Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Big Clock (1948) review

The Big Clock (1948)

Joe Dante is mostly known for directing the mega hit Gremlins, but he has also directed many other films of note.  Recently BAM (The Brooklyn Academy Of Music) did a retrospective of his films :

Joe Dante at the Movies

and TV work, plus offered to show some films that Joe Dante was a fan of, or that influenced him.  There were multiple double features, and some pretty great stuff was shown.  He even showed up for some screenings, did a Q&A after a showing of his work print of Gremlins, and introduced a couple of screenings as well.  I got to meet him and chat with him, and he is not only a great guy, but very down to earth, personable, and very aware.  Talking with him felt like talking with any of my other movie obsessed friends, except that he has been amazingly successful, unlike the rest of us!

This double feature shown did not include a film that Dante directed, but instead was a couple film noir movies that he loved, one called The Black Book (Reign Of Terror) and The Big Clock starring Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Harry Morgan, who is best known as Colonel Potter on TV's M*A*S*H.  Although I did not get to see The Black Book, as I was at another screening, I did make it in time for The Big Clock. 

In the last few years I have been able to catch a few Ray Milland Films, including Panic In Year Zero!, X: Man With The X-Ray Eyes, Dial M For Murder, and Frogs, and have been wanting to see more of his work.  As for Charles Laughton, I caught a double feature of White Woman and Island Of Lost Souls, and although I did not love White Woman, I did think Island Of Lost Souls was pretty great.  He also directed the amazing Robert Mitchum movie Night Of The Hunter, which I recommend to anyone who has not seen it.  With both these guys in this, I felt I had to catch this movie.

Early on in the film I noticed a woman elevator operator who looked amazingly familiar.  I could not place her, and went right over to IMDb when I got home, and it turns out she was Noel Neill, the actress who played Lois Lane in the original Superman serials and the second season of the classic TV version, which I watched many times as a small child.  Funny how certain people just stick in your brain.

The plot revolves around a magazine conglomerate run by a Rupert Murdoch type who is rich, arrogant, and obnoxious.  He is overly demanding of his staff, is obsessed with time, and fires people for not being able to do things he thinks they should, even if he's wrong.  At some point he has a meeting with his mistress, or girlfriend, or lover, and things don't go too well.  She then meets the main character, played by Ray Milland, who is about to go on vacation and things don't work out too well for him either and he gets fired.  Somehow Milland and the mistress spend the night out drunk, and he has to sneak out when the boss shows up, and then all kinds of shit happens. 

This is one of those noir films that focuses on the wrongly accused trying to keep themselves out of jail from a crime they did not commit.  The look of the film is brighter than many noir films, though it has its dark moments, and there are some truly funny moments as well.  The individual performances are really good, and although there is nothing wrong with this picture at all, it doesn't reach the heights I want it to.  Not to say it's a disappointment, I guess I just wanted something more from it. 

7 out of 10 stars.

Location : BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) , theater 2, Brooklyn, NYC
Date and time : Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 at 10:15 PM
Format : 35mm
Audience : About 30 people, I know a bunch of people I was with enjoyed it