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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.



(screenplay), (novel)

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Cordette
Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)
Nat Sperling
Elaine Riley ...
Lily Gold
Luis Van Rooten ...
Edwin Orlin
Margaret Field ...
Second Secretary


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


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


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 April 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spiel mit dem Tode  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. An immediate favorite among local television audiences, its initial telecast took place in St. Louis Wednesday 7 January 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), and it soon spread across the country, grabbing key prime time movie slots in Los Angeles Saturday 31 January 1959 on KNXT (Channel 2), in Minneapolis 5 February 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Philadelphia 7 February 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), in Chicago 5 March 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Milwaukee 18 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Phoenix 29 May 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in San Francisco 6 August 1959 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Seattle 15 August 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Detroit 21 October 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Toledo 24 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in both Pittsburgh and Asheville 9 November 1959 on KDKA (Channel 2) and WLOS (Channel 13), in Grand Rapids 11 November 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Omaha 26 November 1959 on KETV (Channel 7), and in Johnstown 20 December on WJAC (Channel 6); but New York television viewers did not get their first look at it until 12 September 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2). It was released on DVD 6 July 2004 as part of the Universal Noir Collection, and since that time has received frequent airings on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


Killer Earl Janoth (Laughton) dispatches his employee Steve Hagen (Macready) to the crime scene to eliminate any evidence connecting him to victim Pauline York (Johnson). Hagen alters the broken clock time as well as removing the murder weapon and misc.incriminating evidence.George Stroud (Milland) subsequently enters the York apartment and changes the clock time again. What both fail to see and leave behind is the most incriminating evidence of all. A photo of the real killer, Earl Janoth, prominently displayed in the apartment. See more »


George Stroud: White clocks, yellow clocks, brown clocks, blue clocks. Oh, Miss York, where are the green clocks of yesteryear?
See more »


Featured in Pulp Cinema (2001) See more »


I'm in the Mood for Love
Music by Jimmy McHugh
source music heard when Pauline first meets George at the bar
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Big Clock" delivers BIG suspense
11 February 2009 | by See all my reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I'm not sure I would categorize it a noir as much as I would a Mystery/suspense film. But whatever you call it, I call it a great way to spend 95 minutes. I can't recall a film that does a better job of building the suspense as this one. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last half of the film.

The film makes great use of irony to help achieve this - in that the lead character, George Stroud (Ray Milland), is called upon to search for a wanted man - who turns out to be himself. He is mistakenly believed to be the killer of his boss' mistress, when in reality, it is the boss, Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton), who is the guilty party. It is a classic cat and mouse game - except that instead of searching for the "Randolph" character, Stroud is actually trying to find the real killer so as to clear his own name.

Stroud is literally surrounded on all sides by people who could identify him as the man who was with the murdered mistress on the night she was killed. He is running for his life within his own office building trying to avoid being identified. I love how the painting and the artist are used in the story. Elsa Lanchester was a true gem and quite a funny character. It's interesting to note that she was married to Charles Laughton. They certainly make an odd pair - especially in light of the fact of his known homosexuality.

Another married couple from the film was actress Maureen O'Sullivan, who played Stroud's wife, and Director John Farrow. They were married for 27 years (until his death) and had 7 children together, including Mia Farrow. Maureen and Mia appeared together in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986).

Overall, a very good movie with a talented cast.

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