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The Big Clock (1948)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 9 April 1948 (USA)
A career-oriented magazine editor finds himself on the run when he discovers his boss is framing him for murder.



(screenplay), (novel)

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2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Earl Janoth
Steve Hagen
Pauline York
Louise Patterson
Harold Vermilyea ...
Don Klausmeyer
Dan Tobin ...
Ray Cordette
Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)
Nat Sperling
Elaine Riley ...
Lily Gold
Luis Van Rooten ...
Edwin Orlin
Lloyd Corrigan ...
Margaret Field ...
Second Secretary


When powerful publishing tycoon Earl Janouth commits an act of murder at the height of passion, he cleverly begins to cover his tracks and frame an innocent man, whose identity he doesn't know, but who just happen to have contact with the murder victim. That man is a close associate on his magazine whom he enlists to trap this "killer" George Stroud. It's up to George to continue to "help" Janouth, to elude the police and to find proof of his innocence and Janouth's guilt. Written by Ron Kerrigan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The strangest and most savage manhunt in history! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 April 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A nagy óra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It's initial Los Angeles telecast took place Saturday 31 January 1959 on KNXT (Channel 2); in Philadelphia its television premiere took place 7 February 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10). See more »


At the magazine staff meeting right after an investigator has visited Louise Patterson and gotten the name of "the blonde woman", the shadow of the boom microphone can be seen moving on the upper left of the chalkboard frame. See more »


Don Klausmeyer: I'm Don Klausmeyer, from Artways magazine.
Louise Patterson: Yes.
Louise Patterson: Oh, yes. Didn't you review my show in '41?
Don Klausmeyer: I think I did.
Louise Patterson: Oh, come in, Mr. Klausmann.
Don Klausmeyer: KlausMEYER.
Louise Patterson: [laughs gleefully] I've been planning to kill you for years.
See more »


Version of Police Python 357 (1976) See more »


I'm in the Mood for Love
Music by Jimmy McHugh
source music heard when Pauline first meets George at the bar
See more »

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User Reviews

1 December 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When reviewing films like The Big Clock the usual temptation for reviewers is to say it's all right, but Alfred Hitchcock could have done it better. I'm prone to that comment myself.

But I can't see how Hitchcock could have done it better in this case. The plot is complicated, but not so that you get bogged down. It defies encapsulation, but briefly Charles Laughton, a Rupert Murdoch like publisher back in the day kills his mistress Rita Johnson. Earlier that day Johnson had picked up Ray Milland who is the editor of one of Laughton's publications Crimeways magazine and had a night on the town with him.

Laughton sees someone leaving Johnson's apartment, it's Milland, but Laughton only glimpses and can't identify him before killing Johnson. With the help of his right hand man George MacReady, Laughton tries to find the stranger to pin the murder on him and enlists Milland to do it. Milland realizes what the game is and it's quite a duel of wits between two very intelligent people.

Milland, though directed by John Farrow here, is a typical Hitchcock hero trapped by circumstances and desperately looking for a solution. It's possible that Hitchcock saw this film and had Milland in mind for one his films and he did eventually use him in Dial M for Murder.

Laughton covers some familiar ground here. He's a powerful man with a fetish for punctuality. The title of the film refers to The Big Clock in the lobby of his skyscraper in New York. It runs on naval observatory time and is also running in tandem with all the clocks in all the buildings that Janoth publications has in the country. In fact it's Johnson's lateness that sets him off in their confrontation. And Milland throws him off his game by stopping The Big Clock in the lobby.

The closest role that Laughton played to Earl Janoth here has to be Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. Both are complete anal retentives, with Javert it's the law, with Janoth its time. Javert has no personal life, Janoth apparently can't handle one. And with both only an actor of great talent and skill like Charles Laughton can make you be repelled by his actions and still feel some sympathy for him.

The Big Clock holds up very well today and I wish it would be remade and could be. It was with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman in No Way Out with the setting now the Pentagon. I'd like to see it updated and keep it in a civilian setting. Though I doubt it would be as good as the Laughton/Milland version.

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