7.7/10
6,643
73 user 42 critic

The Big Clock (1948)

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.

Director:

John Farrow

Writers:

Jonathan Latimer (screenplay), Kenneth Fearing (novel)
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

Unanimously acclaimed as the super-suspense hit! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 April 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spiel mit dem Tode See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The novel on which this film is based was written by its author, poet Kenneth Fearing, as revenge on publisher Henry Luce and his "Time" magazine, where Fearing was obliged to work (for financial reasons) for many years. The fearsome Earl Janoth is often regarded as a libelous parody of Luce, although the book was given a rave review in "Time" when it was first published, as was the film. See more »

Goofs

George Stroud introduces McKinley to Pauline York as the "23rd President of the United States." McKinley corrects him by saying "25th" (which is correct). However, McKinley's lips say "24th" (which is incorrect as Grover Cleveland was the 24th) and the "25th" is an obvious voice over. 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

Edited into The Clock (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

The Wearin' of the Green
(uncredited)
Traditional
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User Reviews

 
The Problem of Publishers
4 March 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

For some reason (despite a tendency to join forces to protect the first amendment's freedom of speech), movies tend to make publishers look venal and awful. Even that most sympathetic of publishers, Charles Foster Kane, is a megalomaniac (albeit one robbed of a happy childhood). Look at the news publishers in "Five Star Final" or even "Unholy Partners"...anything for a story,for circulation, no matter who gets hurt by the publicity. Look at Walter Burns in all the versions of "The Front Page". Look at Sydney Kidd (Henry Daniell) in "The Philadelphia Story". In this film the publisher is a trifle closer to Charles Foster Kane. Earl Janoth does not own and run a newspaper or a magazine, but a whole empire of different magazines with names like "NewsWays" and "CrimeWays". He even centers it in one single building in New York City. And he has no doubt about his prominence. When his right hand man (George Macready) suggests he was not recognized by a witness, Janoth moans (a trifle loud for affect), "Everybody knows me." This film is a nice combination of film noir and study of a publishing empire. Kenneth Fearing had worked in advertising in a magazine, and had an idea of how they actually ran. His novel (which was recently published in the two volume edition on noir novels in the "Library of America" series of books) became a best seller and classic of that field of writing. The movie (with some changes) is a classic too. The issue of this film is can the hero (Ray Milland) manage to sabotage the investigation he is ordered by Janoth (Charles Laughton) to conduct, without Laughton or his ally Macready realizing he is the man they are seeking. It is done with style and comic timing (thanks to Elsa Lanchester, Philip Van Zandt, and several other character actors). Even Laughton and Macready are used for humor, although their characters are menacing. Macready has just set up the orders for Milland's investigation, and Milland (confused but trying to buy time), says "Right." Macready looks at him and says, "What do you mean "Right"?" And look at Laughton's silent reaction to Lanchester's portrait of the sort for witness Milland has to find.

This is one film noir that gets better with every new viewing. Watch it by all means.


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