Johnny Eager (1941)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  17 January 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,705 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 15 critic

District Attorney's daughter falls in love with a gangster the D.A. is trying to put in jail.



(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lisbeth Bard
John Benson Farrell
Jeff Hartnett
Jimmy Courtney
Patricia Dane ...
Glenda Farrell ...
Mae Blythe
Henry O'Neill ...
Mr. Verne
Diana Lewis ...
Judy Sanford
Lew Rankin
Charles Dingle ...
Cy Kendall ...
Don Costello ...
Lou Lubin ...


Ruthless hood Johnny Eager is pretending to his parole officer that he has chucked the rackets and is now a full-time taxi driver. In fact, he's as deep in as he ever was and desperately needs official permission to open his new dog track. When he meets up with Lisbeth Bard, he finds he not only has a stunning new girlfriend but a possible way to get his permit. Written by Jeremy Perkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"TNT - Taylor 'n Turner - Together They're Terrific!" See more »


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Tote lebt  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 21, 1946 with Robert Taylor reprising his film role. See more »


In the scene where Johnny is asking Benjy about the cop that won't let him put in slot machines, Benjy hands him a note with the cop's badge number (#711) on it which he unfolds before handing to Johnny. Then we see Johnny unfolding it again. See more »


John Benson Farrell: You couldn't stop being a thief any more than a weasel could stop sucking chicken blood.
See more »


Featured in Watch the Birdie (1950) See more »


(1911) (uncredited)
(Also known as "Melancholy Baby" and "My Melancholy Baby")
Music by Ernie Burnett
Played during the opening and closing credits
Played as dance music by the band at Tony Luce's place
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

Van Heflin shines in this MGM gangster film
17 November 2004 | by (Boulder, Colorado) – See all my reviews

MGM produced this well-written, well-produced gangster saga, a type of film that was very unusual for the studio.

As the alcoholic, self-loathing, philosophizing buddy of Johnny Eager (Robert Taylor), Heflin steals the show. He plays his role with great intensity and complexity, making his performance one of the most deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscars in the history of the Academy Awards. His crying scenes are enough to choke a person up, and his possible suggestion of a homoerotic attraction to Eager is unique in a film of this era.

It's unfortunate that Heflin's subsequent roles and performances were generally dull. This actor needed roles that put him emotionally on the edge and exploited his intensity. But at least in Johnny Eager, Heflin set a standard for screen acting that remains a role model to this day.

Robert Taylor plays his scenes with Heflin with some dramatic tension and a hint of subtext, while still remaining comfortably within the confines of a handsome Hollywood leading man. Turner delivers her lines very artificially, coming across as insincere, and her face seems incapable of expressing emotion. Beautiful she is, but given the taut script, the director had the potential of eliciting less formulaic playing from her. Luckily, the rest of the cast is excellent -especially Edward Arnold and Robert Sterling.

Watch this one and you won't be disappointed. Heflin's performance is worth it all.

28 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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