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The Big Clock

There are weaknesses lurking in this pic [based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing, adaptation by Harold Goldman], namely a too-patly tailored yarn and some spotty acting, but these matter little. The pace is so red-hot that there's no time or inclination, during the unfolding, to question coincident or misplaced mugging.

With:
Ray Milland Charles Laughton Maureen O'Sullivan George Macready Elsa Lanchester Dan Tobin

There are weaknesses lurking in this pic [based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing, adaptation by Harold Goldman], namely a too-patly tailored yarn and some spotty acting, but these matter little. The pace is so red-hot that there’s no time or inclination, during the unfolding, to question coincident or misplaced mugging.

Laughton, in this instance, is cracking the whip as the topkick in a gigantic publishing house. Toiling under him is Ray Milland, editor of a crime mag, whose peculiar value is his ability to run down concealed felons and expose them in his sheet. Goaded by insane jealousy, Laughton kills his mistress and scurries for cover. It’s at this point that story’s peculiar twist shoves it into high.

Laughton is aware that he’s been sighted by his unknown rival. As he sees it, there’s only one way out, and that’s to locate the sole witness and either buy him off or cancel him in some other way. Milland, of course, is hired for that job, and his desperate efforts are directed towards covering his own tracks while pinning the goods on the real murderer.

Milland turns in a workmanlike job, polished to groove to the unrelenting speed of the plot. Laughton, unfortunately, overplays his hand so that his tycoon-sans-heart takes on the quality of parodying the real article.

The Big Clock

Production: Paramount. Director John Farrow; Producer Richard Maibaum; Screenplay Jonathan Latimer; Camera John F. Seitz; Editor Eda Warren, Gene Ruggiero; Music Victor Young; Art Director Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson, Albert Nozaki

Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1948. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Ray Milland Charles Laughton Maureen O'Sullivan George Macready Elsa Lanchester Dan Tobin

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