New York gambling house operator Johnny O'Clock is junior partner in a posh casino with Guido Marchettis and Chuck Blayden, a crooked cop. But Blayden is trying to cut into the casino's profits and warns Johnny not to interfere with his intention of becoming Marchettis' full partner. Blayden ends his relationship with coat check girl Harriet Hobson, then disappears. Later, Harriet is found dead in her apartment, apparently from suicide. Police Inspector Koch begins an investigation.He questions Johnny, Harriet's sister Nancy, who is infatuated with Johnny, and Johnny's associate, Charlie. When Blayden's body turns up in a nearby river, and when it is learned that Harriet death wasn't suicide but murder by poison, Johnny and Marchettis become prime suspects in both cases.To make matters worse, Pete Marchettis discovers that his wife Nelle may be having an affair with Johnny. Out of jealousy, he sends hired gunmen to kill Johnny in a drive-by shooting while Johnny is driving Nancy to ...Written by
The film's casino set was the most expensive set constructed in Hollywood since the end of the war. The set comprised 14 gaming rooms featuring $50,000 worth of Las Vegas gambling equipment that was shipped to Hollywood. See more »
51 minutes into the film, Johnny and Nancy go into a restaurant to eat. It had been raining outside. The number and size of the wet spots on Johnny's shoulders changes several times while they are seated at the table. See more »
Johnny O'Clock has everything under control. He has a partnership in a thriving casino and all his little peccadilloes are at ease in his world. Then things start to go awry, his partnership with Marchettis comes under severe pressure on account of Mrs Marchettis' dalliances, and worst of all, the hat check girl he had a soft spot for has turned up dead. Johnny is feeling the heat, from every corner of his world it seems.
At the time of writing this, Johnny O' Clock has under ten reviews written on IMDb and barely 200 votes cast, one can only assume that Johnny is badly under seen! Without knowing the issues of accessibility on TV and DVD, it may just be that this little noir treasure has slipped through the net of many a genre observer. Without pushing the boundaries of noir and its devilish off shoots, it's a film with all the necessary noir components in place, a tightly accomplished film that definitely deserves a bigger audience.
The plot, though very basic in the context of the genre/style it sits in (thus making it easy enough for the casual viewer to enjoy), is a series of double (triple) crosses smothered in a delicate hint of aromatic femme fatale. Throw in crooked and grizzly bear like coppers, get Robert Rossen to make it his directorial debut, and ask Burnett Guffey to photograph it, and you got a lovely helping of noirish stew. All you then ask for is your cast to come up trumps, and thankfully they do.
Dick Powell plays Johnny O'Clock with the right blend of dapper charm and cool calm toughness, Lee J Cobb (grizzly bear copper), Thomas Gomez (Pete Marchettis) and John Kellogg (the muscle) all play it tough without over egging the pudding. The girls are nicely played by Evelyn Keyes ("99 River Street" & "The Seven Year Itch"), Ellen Drew ("The Man from Colorado") and the delicious Nina Foch ("The Ten Commandments") - with Drew showing definite shades of Hayworth at times - though only shades mind!
It's not a dark picture and those hoping for a head scratcher will be sorely disappointed, and I would be a liar if I said that I didn't think the ending needed a more dramatic punch. But I'll be damned if this wasn't a most enjoyable experience, twisty and turny without making the head spin for sake's sake, "Johnny O'clock" is well worth your time. Time! Get it? Groan. 7/10
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