70 user 39 critic

The Big Clock (1948)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 9 April 1948 (USA)
After murdering someone, a magazine tycoon tries to frame an unknown, innocent man of the murder instead, while the innocent man tries to solve the murder himself.



(screenplay), (novel)

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Cordette
Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)
Nat Sperling
Elaine Riley ...
Lily Gold
Luis Van Rooten ...
Edwin Orlin
Margaret Field ...
Second Secretary


When powerful publishing tycoon Earl Janoth 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 happens 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" Janoth, to elude the police and to find proof of his innocence and Janoth'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:

Spiel mit dem Tode  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When George Stroud asks the operator to call Pauline York's apartment, the number he asks for begins with BUtterfield8. This was a telephone exchange in a ritzy part of upper Manhattan. Just as Pauline met her demise in this part of town, so did Elizabeth Taylor's character twelve years later in her academy award winning role of Gloria, a high-priced call girl in 1960's BUtterfield8. 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 »


Louise Patterson: Oh Penelope, you forgot to put away your rollerskates.
See more »


Featured in Last Rites (1999) 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

29 January 2009 | by See all my reviews

Remade in 1987 as "No Way Out," the 1948 film "The Big Clock" is a wonderful suspense film starring Charles Laughton, Ray Milland, George MacCready, and Maureen O'Sullivan, directed by O'Sullivan's husband, John Farrow.

Earl Janoth (Laughton), the owner of a publishing empire, is a quiet, enigmatic tyrant who loves clocks and has them all over his buildings throughout the country, including a big one in the lobby of his New York building. The clocks everywhere run together on naval observatory time.

Janoth's right-hand man, Steve Hagen (MacCready) does his dirty work for him. When Janoth kills his mistress (Rita Johnson), Hagen cleans up the mess. Janoth is sure he saw someone in the hall when he arrived at his girlfriend's apartment, and feeling that the man can identify him, wants him found and eliminated. He orders his executives to get the man, telling them the person they want is involved in a war contract scheme. One man, George Stroud (Ray Milland), who is heading up the investigation, isn't fooled. He knows that he is the man Janoth is looking for -- and why.

"The Big Clock" is a great cat and mouse story, with Stroud ducking people who saw him in various places with the mistress on the night she was killed. He also attempts to leave the building to find a cab driver when someone who can identify him is standing at the exit with security people.

Milland does an excellent job of being both cool and panicky, and Laughton's underplaying makes the character of Janoth all the more deadly. Maureen O'Sullivan is delightful as the long-suffering Mrs. Stroud, who's never had a honeymoon because of her husband's work. Elsa Lanchester is hilarious as an artist whose painting figures into the story.

My only complaint is that the ending is a tiny bit abrupt, though very amusing.

A really wonderful film for suspense-lovers, Hitchcock-like, and highly entertaining.

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