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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.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... George Stroud
... Earl Janoth
... Georgette Stroud
... Steve Hagen
... Pauline York
... Louise Patterson
... Don Klausmeyer
... Ray Cordette
... Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)
... Nat Sperling
Elaine Riley ... Lily Gold
Luis Van Rooten ... Edwin Orlin
... McKinley
... Burt
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:

The strangest and most savage manhunt in history! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

9 April 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spiel mit dem Tode  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on July 8, 1949 with Ray Milland and Maureen O'Sullivan reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the scene just after the scene where the investigator trips on a roller skate on the stairs, there is a blackboard where they are listing crime clues. The shadow of the boom microphone is seen moving down the left side of the blackboard. This appears on an HD resolution TV image on the Turner Classic Movie channel--not a DVD--and is clearly several inches into the original camera frame. See more »

Quotes

Don Klausmeyer: Our organization, the Janoth Publications, is trying to find someone, possibly a collector of your pictures.
Louise Patterson: So have I for fifteen years.
See more »

Connections

Edited into The Clock (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

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

A rare case where the hunter is also the hunted...
1 July 2000 | by See all my reviews

Most filmgoers are probably more familiar with this film's 1987 updating, "No Way Out", starring Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman. That said, "The Big Clock", as with most originals which later spawn remakes of one form or another, is the better film to my mind. It features Ray Milland as a workaholic crime magazine editor for a ruthless publisher (Charles Laughton). Milland has developed his own special method of catching criminals, consisting of glomming onto details that the police disregard as irrelevant. How little does he suspect that, within 24 hours, that same method is going to be used against him...

He stays the night at his boss' mistress to sleep off a hangover. When Laughton strolls in for a suprise visit, Milland manages to get away before being IDed, but not before Laughton sees his shadowy figure on the stairs. In a jealous rage, Laughton kills his mistress and later sets about framing the figure he saw...who, unknown to him, is actually the man he's putting in charge of the investigation, Milland! What follows from this setup is one of the most elaborate cat-and-mouse games I have ever seen on celluloid, the key difference here being that the cat has no idea who the mouse is.

The leads are what make this film stand out. Milland was always very good at playing "the man caught in the middle" and this time is no exception. Kirk Douglas once noted in his autobiography, "The Ragman's Son", that whenever Laughton speaks his lines, it's as though the words just suddenly occurred to him rather than reciting something from memory. It's definitely put to good use here; Laughton oozes menace and coldness with no discernable effort. Other notables in the cast include Elsa Lancaster ("Bride of Frankenstein" and Laughton's real-life wife) as an eccentric artist who helps Milland and a then-unknown Harry Morgan as a silent, suspicious bodyguard to Laughton's publisher.

While perhaps not extraordinary in and of itself, "The Big Clock" is still a good film worth watching, buying, and owning.


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