46 user 18 critic

Johnny Eager (1941)

The daughter of a district attorney falls in love with a gangster who her father is trying to have imprisoned.


Mervyn LeRoy


John Lee Mahin (screen play), James Edward Grant (screen play) | 1 more credit »


Airs Wed. Feb. 27, 8:00 AM on TCM

Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Peggy is 21 and bored. She has just been awarded a certificate for starting work on time for 1000 days. She decides that she needs a change so she leaves a note, which is taken to be ... See full summary »

Director: Wesley Ruggles
Stars: Lana Turner, Robert Young, Walter Brennan
Certificate: Passed Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A disparate group of women try to adjust to their new lives after enlisting in the Women's Army Corps.

Director: Edward Buzzell
Stars: Lana Turner, Laraine Day, Susan Peters
Hi, Nellie! (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The managing editor for a newspaper, in hot water with his boss, is demoted to writing the "Nellie Nelson" heart throb column, where he gets the unexpected opportunity to crack a major story.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Ned Sparks
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An Irish maid falls for the son of her wealthy boss, though their disapproving fathers and a bitter strike at the steel mill complicates matters.

Director: Tay Garnett
Stars: Greer Garson, Gregory Peck, Donald Crisp
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The misadventures of a group of diverse guests at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon
Certificate: Passed Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Torchy Blane has to solve a blackmail case.

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: Glenda Farrell, Barton MacLane, Tom Kennedy
Cornered (1945)
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard finds that his wife has been murdered by a French collaborator. His quest for justice leads him to Switzerland and Argentina.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel
High Wall (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Stars: Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall
Action | Crime | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A deported gangster's plan to re-enter the USA involves skulduggery at a Mexican resort, and gambler Dan Milner is caught in the middle.

Directors: John Farrow, Richard Fleischer
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Through a fluke circumstance a ruthless woman stumbles across a suitcase filled with $60,000, and she is determined to hold onto it even if it means murder.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An ambitious lumberjack abandons his saloon girl lover so that he can marry into wealth, but years later becomes infatuated with the woman's daughter.

Directors: Howard Hawks, William Wyler, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Discovery by Flo Ziegfeld changes a girl's life but not necessarily for the better, as three beautiful women find out when they join the spectacle on Broadway: Susan, the singer who must ... See full summary »

Directors: Robert Z. Leonard, Busby Berkeley
Stars: James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr


Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Taylor ... Johnny Eager
Lana Turner ... Lisbeth Bard
Edward Arnold ... John Benson Farrell
Van Heflin ... Jeff Hartnett
Robert Sterling ... Jimmy Courtney
Patricia Dane ... Garnet
Glenda Farrell ... Mae Blythe
Henry O'Neill ... Mr. Verne
Diana Lewis ... Judy Sanford
Barry Nelson ... Lew Rankin
Charles Dingle ... Marco
Paul Stewart ... Julio
Cy Kendall ... Halligan
Don Costello ... Billiken
Lou Lubin ... Benjy


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 <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They're Dynamite in Johnny EAGER See more »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Tote lebt See more »


Box Office


$651,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Garnet tells Johnny that Jeff has called him "Herod Agrippa", he is referring to the last King of Judea who reigned from 41-44 AD. She also states Jeff called her Johnny's "enamorada", which is the Spanish feminine noun for "lover". 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 »


Johnny Eager: When you've been where I've been you can never get enough company.
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Little-known crime story with two big stars and an Oscar-winning performance
20 February 2010 | by jimjo1216See all my reviews

Johnny Eager is an ex-gangster parolee who needs to hide his current criminal activities. He's a classy gangster and always knows how to get what he wants. He runs a dog racing racket and has henchmen to do his dirty work. He seems to have everything figured out until he meets a girl who figures him out but still falls in love with him. A guy like Johnny Eager can't have a respectable dame like her falling all over him, right? Johnny Eager doesn't fall in *love*.

Robert Taylor stars in the title role and is very good as the classy criminal. The lovely Lana Turner plays the love interest Liz Bard. This was still relatively early in Turner's career. She'd feature in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941) the same year, but make more of an impression later on in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946). Turner's character is a key component of JOHNNY EAGER, but she spends considerable time offscreen.

Van Heflin won the Oscar for playing Jeff Hartnett, a well-read alcoholic and Johnny's best friend and confidant. He's not interested in the criminal activities, but he keeps Johnny company, offers him advice, and keeps his secrets. A selfish crook like Johnny Eager knows nothing about love or sympathy, but even Johnny Eager needs a friend.

Heflin would go on to such movies as SHANE (1953) and 3:10 TO YUMA (1957) in the 1950s, but he actually won an Academy Award for this film early on in his career. Heflin's performance was my favorite part of the movie and he deserved Oscar recognition. He really stood out among the ensemble. His character is always half-drunk, but functional, honest and prone to colorful literary quotations. The performance is subtle and nuanced compared to the rest of the cast. Heflin is able to convey different emotions throughout the movie and even takes a punch, falls to the ground, rolls around, looks up, and leaves, all in (if I recall correctly) one shot.

(Other viewers have pointed out undertones with Heflin's character that are there if you want to take 'em or leave 'em. The film works fine either way.)

A big-time racketeer who uses people for his own advantage, Johnny doesn't understand love and has no real friends except Jeff. He'd never even had a pet dog growing up. Johnny Eager is like an emotionless robot, until Liz comes along. In the end it is Johnny's newfound shred of humanity that ultimately leads to his downfall. (I guess. The ending never made 100% sense to me.)

JOHNNY EAGER is an enjoyable little film from 1941. Part gangster movie, part film noir lite. I really don't know how best to classify this one. But it has somehow fallen out of the public consciousness, available only by on-demand DVD from Warner Archive and occasionally on TCM. It's hard to understand why, since it's a decent enough movie with two notable stars, Robert Taylor and Lana Turner. And it's an OSCAR_WINNER! One would think people would be interested in seeing the film that provided the Best Supporting Actor of 1941, Van Heflin's shining moment.

I caught this on TCM recently and I'd recommend checking it out if you have the time. It's not essential viewing, but it's worth a look. Catch it when you can.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 46 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Recently Viewed