Thursday, October 1, 2009

Noir! The Big Clock

Now, this is some noir, people! If you like black and white movies, again with a little bit of grit to them, you will love The Big Clock, released in 1948. I was so surprised by how great it was. First off, it has the amazing Ray Milland in the lead, with quirky Charles Laughton as the heavy, and his real life wife, Elsa Lanchester, as the wacky modern artist. Elsa was the Bride of Frankenstein, and she has the most unusual voice and is such a joy to watch. She fills the screen with warmth, and I may now have to see every movie she was ever in.
Ray Milland is an editor for a true crime magazine, run by the unctuous Laughton, in a Randolph Hearst-like role. A crime occurs (yes, it involves a dame, alcohol, and a clock), and Milland must use all of his creative wiles to solve the crime to avoid being convicted himself. Suspense, twists and turns, and even Maureen O'Sullivan, it's a noir cornucopia.
The movie feels a bit like a Hitchcock film, with its "wrong man suspected" theme and its taut thrills. It also has quite a bit of black humor and comedy. Laughton here reminds me a bit of Orson Welles in A Touch of Evil, and the last half of the film, with Milland going to great lengths to expose the true killer, is just delightful. Man, it has held up well, considering it's over sixty years old. Give it a go.
Great quote from The Big Clock: "Isn't it a pity... the wrong people always have money. "


  1. I've never seen this! Surprising since a friend of mine is crazy about this genre! Did you ever see that movie Brick? It was a modern day take on film noir. We saw it in the theater when it opened and loved it :)

  2. I did see Brick, and it was a fun little movie, wasn't it. You'd like The Big Clock, I think.