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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 <email@example.com>
In one of the bedrooms in Johnny's apartment at the track is a large painting, done in the art deco style, of a reclining blonde woman. Coincidentally, this same painting is featured briefly but prominently in Eyes in the Night (1942), released the same year and also starring Edward Arnold, referred to in that film by Marty as "a blonde tomato." 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 »
(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 »
The celebrated German philosopher Immanual Kant's premise of theory was that there is no originality, because we are influenced by what we experience. In that case Johnny Eager (1942)is a clichéd gangster film. But the clichéd roles give way to nuanced characters, which have originality within their various slants of their respective stereotypes. Director Leroy achieves this by adding to the clichés of sharp suited mobsters and their dolls anomalies as in the emotional, erudite gangster with ethics.
A classic stereotype, (well observed and researched by the production team) is that of Lana Turner's character; Lizbeth Bard. She is the clichéd sociology student. That is she is a middle class naive ingénue, whose fascination with her subject matter gets her in too deep. This role gave Turner credibility as an actor! Likewise, the film gave Taylor the credibility he deserved as an actor of dimensions. His caricature of the solipsistic gangster gave him an edge which usurped his 'pretty boy' image. Nevertheless Taylor's Johnny Eager seems to have a sense of his beauty that has the women running to him. One example is the scene when the women run to serve him at the desk near the start of the film. This begs the question of was Johnny Eager's looks that had the women eating out of his hand? or was it his 'gangster' image that attracted them? Could Eager have had the women falling for him with just looks alone? His character wouldn't be half as sexy in the role of Bard's other love interest, that of the sweet, well intentioned good -guy as in Robert Sterling's character; Jimmy Courtney.
The other stand out performance (deserved of his Oscar) is that of Van Heflin playing the complex ,sesquipedalian and polymath, Jeff Hartnett. He is the cerebral side kick of Eager. Like the women, he has got in too deep with Eager because of his homo erotic attraction to the latter.
Mention should also go to the excellent turns by Edward Arnald as the over protective Dad, who has come from nothing,making it as a respectable lawyer, with ambitions for his daughter to marry a wealthy socialite with a good name. His over protectiveness as Bard's Dad gives way to a subtext of incest. This has Hartnett (Heflin) mention the famous psychologist Freud.
Also outstanding in this film is the clever script, which is evidently well researched, as in the example of the naive sociology student. The direction of the film is a credit to Mervyn LeRoy who portrays the clichéd caricatures of the characters to almost perfection. . The film takes allot of twists and turns, which defines it as 'film noir'.
This was the film that altered the career of Robert Taylor, transforming him from a 'pretty boy' film star to a credible actor. It definitely is worth seeing.
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