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The Big Clock (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  9 April 1948 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,017 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 34 critic

A career oriented magazine editor finds himself on the run when he discovers his boss is framing him for murder.

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(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Big Clock (1948)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Earl Janoth
...
...
Steve Hagen
Rita Johnson ...
Pauline York
...
Louise Patterson
Harold Vermilyea ...
Don Klausmeyer
Dan Tobin ...
Ray Cordette
...
Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)
Richard Webb ...
Nat Sperling
Elaine Riley ...
Lily Gold
Luis Van Rooten ...
Edwin Orlin
Lloyd Corrigan ...
McKinley
Frank Orth ...
Burt
Margaret Field ...
Second Secretary
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The strangest and most savage manhunt in history!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 April 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A nagy óra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A 'fin' is $5 in American slang. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Earl Janoth: [talking on intercom to Steve Hagen] On the fourth floor - in the broom closet - a bulb has been burning for several days. Find the man responsible, dock his pay.
See more »

Connections

Version of Police Python 357 (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

The Wearin' of the Green
(uncredited)
Traditional
See more »

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User Reviews

Another key difference between book and film
16 July 2004 | by (Olympia, WA) – See all my reviews

I posted a message last night about some of the differences between the book and film, and the reasons I think the film is superior, but it strikes me that I left out the most important one. The title, "The Big Clock," carries a much different meaning.

In the book, it's a tortured metaphor, nothing more. There's a big clock up the sky, you see, ticking away, and there's nothing you can do about it, and it just ticks and ticks until finally something happens. This is probably not as eloquent as author Kenneth Fearing's explanation, but it ought to suffice. It's not such a bad idea, really -- the story is one of the best examples of the "ticking clock" device ever set to paper or film, and it's interesting to note that the book was written long before critics started using the term to describe stories of this kind. But Fearing uses this metaphor awkwardly. He describes the concept at great length in the first few pages of the book, and it shows up several more times throughout the novel. And yet it is inserted so clumsily that you have to wonder if he wrote the book first, and then decided he needed a dandy metaphor, so he added a few pages here and there to boost his word-count. It seems to be dropped into the narration without much justification, and the explanation of the concept seems to go on forever. It comes out sounding something like the narration in an above-average forties radio play, the sort of thing you might have heard on, say, Suspense.

The film dispenses with this metaphor, at least in such an obvious way. Instead, it gives us a great big clock in the skyscraper's lobby. (There's no such thing in the book.) Beyond that, no one bothers to explain the title.

The metaphor is present in the movie, of course -- it's just that the entire story serves as an illustration of the concept. It goes without saying; the idea is presented more subtly. No doubt the screenwriters decided that it was a terrific title, but if they were going to dispense with awkward metaphors, they needed a different sort of justification for the name. Their solution works. The clock in the lobby gives the movie a focal point. Better yet, because the movie opens with Ray Milland hiding from his pursuers within the "big clock," we know that a climactic scene will eventually be played out there.

The screenwriters buttressed this idea with other clock references. Ray Milland is late for a train. Much of the dialogue concerns the passage of time. People keep checking watches. And notice that Janoth's girlfriend is beaten to death with a sundial?

Let me add one other thought. The narration in the book and movie carries many similarities to the sort of narration you might have heard on the radio show Suspense, perhaps the best of all nourish radio programs. This type of narration was a standard device in radio and the movies, back in the forties. But there's another connection. In the original trailer for this movie, we see Ray Milland in a radio studio as the show Suspense is being recorded, and the show's director (Anton M. Leder, I believe) steps out from the broadcast booth to offer a testimonial for the movie. An interesting bit of trivia.


9 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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