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The Big Clock (Universal Noir Collection) (1948)

Ray Milland , Charles Laughton , John Farrow  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, George Macready
  • Directors: John Farrow
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00023P4FQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,905 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Big Clock (Universal Noir Collection)" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

Just 24 hours ago his life was perfect. Oscar-winning Best Actor Ray Milland stars in this smart and stylish thriller based on Kenneth Fearing's novel and precursor to 1987's No Way Out starring Kevin Costner. Milland portrays hotshot crime magazine editor George Stroud, who inadvertently becomes the subject of a murder investigation after spending an evening with his boss' (Charles Laughton) mistress. She ends up dead and he is being framed by the actual killer. Meanwhile, at the publishing office, Stroud's competent staff scurries for clues while he finds himself in a race against the clock. It seems the prime suspect they are seeking matches an all-too-familiar description…his own! Maureen O'Sullivan and George Macready co-star in this richly told, often humorous story The New Yorker hailed as "slick and entertaining." Known for its intriguing film noir cinematography and featuring beautiful costumes by Edith Head, this is one suspense classic you won't want to miss.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done Noir, Well Worth Watching August 2, 2004
This is not, in my opinion, one of the great noirs, but it tells a fast-paced, well-acted story with style, tension and humor. Ray Milland plays George Stroud, dynamic editor of a crime magazine, one of many in Earl Janoth's (Charles Laughton) publishing empire. Through circumstances, he meets Laughton's mistress one evening. She later is killed. Janoth puts Stroud in charge of tracking down the murder to get an exclusive for the magazine...(not much of a spoiler ahead; the killing is shown early)...and to cover the fact that Janoth was the killer. Milland is quickly set up to take the fall.

Milland was edging into middle age and this added to the authority he brought to the role. Although he still had the charm and light comedy springingness, he is believable as a quick-thinking potential victim.

Laughton is first rate. In a couple of scenes he scurries to the elevator or across a hall and looks like a fat, dangerous spider. He helps define Janoth's character as an indulgent, morally corrupt egoist by touching his mouth and grooming a small, ridiculous moustache with a little finger.

Rita Johnson plays the mistress and is terrific. She's shrewd, sexy and sophisticated. She didn't have much of a career and, according to IMDb, apparently had a death worthy of a noir movie.

George Macready plays a smart, cold, condescending lawyer whose ethics are flexible. His range may have been be limited, but Macready was one of Hollywood's great character actors.

You might be able to find an old, used paperback of the book by Kenneth Fearing. He was a good poet who never made it. In the three or four mystery/novels he wrote he uses the device of having the characters speak for themselves in the first person, each to his or her own chapter.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
It is a real pleasure to rediscover obscure films from years ago which are still of interest today and "The Big Clock" (made in 1948) falls into this category and is well worth seeing again. At the start of this compelling thriller we find Ray Milland hiding in the "Big Clock" of the title wondering to himself how he ever got involved in murder and deception when he is just a hard working married man devoted to his family and career and completely innocent of any crime. As was usual in forties films at that time we now go into a lengthy flashback which explains everything. Ray Milland plays George Stroud who is the crime editor for "Crimeways Magazine" which specialises in solving real life crimes. Charles Laughton is Earl Janoth, head of the Janoth publishing empire which produces many successful magazines including "Crimeways". George accidentally meets up with Pauline York (Rita Johnson) in a bar unaware that she knows Janoth and is in fact his mistress - George spends the evening with her and goes back to her apartment. Unfortunately he is seen with the girl in several places quite publicly so when she is later found dead in her apartment Stroud finds himself falling under suspicion. Janoth forces Stroud to investigate the case but his personal involvement with the girl means that many witnesses can identify him as being with her on the night she was murdered. He has to use all his investigative skills to keep himself in the clear and track down the real murderer. Wife Georgette Stroud (Maureen O'Sullivan) is not very sympathetic as she is anxious to take the family on holiday (and plans to do so with or without George). Elsa Lanchester has a very good cameo role as Louise Patterson, an eccentric artist who plays a significant part in the unfolding drama. Read more ›
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Clock's Ticking! October 9, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
John Farrow's "The Big Clock" is one of the great noir films of the 40's. The downside is many people have 1) rarely seen it. 2) Many haven't even heard of it! Ray Milland stars as George Stroud a man who as the film goes on will have to track down a murderer when all the clues lead to one man, him! How can he prove his innocence. And how will he get anyone to believe him? These are the interesting questions that arise as you watch this film.
George Stroud (Milland) works for a publication that somehow manages to break cases before the police do. He is also suppose to go on his honeymoon with his wife Georgette (Maureen O' Sullivan) which is long overdue ( they now have a 5 year old son!). But, his boss Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton) wants him to postpone his honeymoon. Claiming he'll give him higher pay and a month's vaction. But George knows his wife will kill him if he's not there ready to leave with her lol. Now, one thing leads to another ( I don't want to give anyway too much of the plot). But George ends up missing his train and spends the night with Janoth's mistress! Later on that night, he finds that Janoth's mistress is dead! Was it murder? Well, all directions point that way since George saw Janoth go into Pauline York's (Rita Johnson) apartment. In an attempt to cover up his actions, Janoth tells George he has to solve the case before the police get involved. "The Big Clock" has a great musical score by Victor Young, nice cimatography by Daniel L. Fapp & John F. Seitz. And, fammed costume designer Edit Head does wonderful work. All of these things give this movie the "classic" noir feel to it. There are good, solid performances by everyone, and nice directing by Farrow. This is a very pleasurable film to watch on one of those rainy, dark nights, that just feels like watching a noir film. One of the best noir films I've ever seen.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
for me and I love film noir
Published 1 month ago by jwright
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Tense
We enjoyed this movie with Ray Milland, etc. He is such a great actor. Good sound quality and a good picture.
Published 6 months ago by MD Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie
I think the actors in this movie are just great. Who could not love Elsa Lancaster steal every scene she's in. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Geradine Dinardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Super movie for Charles Laughton fans!
I love this movie! Charles Laughton is at his best - the suspense with just the right amount of edginess makes this enjoyable. Read more
Published 9 months ago by MDJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Edgy and highly entertaining
Both a clever murder mystery and a tense straying-husband noir, with an ingenious and genuinely unique premise. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Eric O. Allstrom
1.0 out of 5 stars review of the big clock
acting, especially charles laughton, ray milland, george macready and harry morgan excellent.-- also, dialogue and plot, plus laughton's character's obsessions are fascinating.
Published 10 months ago by teresa
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Eugene Hyon of "The Big Clock"
Classy film noir starring some of my favorite actors of all time. Charles Laughton and Ray Milland. About as top-notch as Hitchcock as it will ever be.
Published 10 months ago by Eugene Hyon
4.0 out of 5 stars The Big Clock in a Film Noir Festival
The American Film Institute holds an annual noir film festival in Washington, D.C. which gave me the opportunity to see the 1948 film adaptation of Kenneth Fearing's novel, "The... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Robin Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story
A good cast, a good story, and good directing by John Farrow. This is a film noirish tale of power , intellect, and murder. The bad people lose and the good people win. Read more
Published 12 months ago by mj
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
Great movie; loved Charles Laughton in this! Wanted to get the movie for a long time! Since Laughton is my favorite actor, I like him no matter what he plays!
Published 14 months ago by M. Cacace
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