THE BIG CLOCK (1948)

The Big Clock

There’s a lot of  noir titles that begin with “The Big.” The Big Sleep, The Big Combo, The Big Knife, and the whole Hardboiled Hangover project even started with a review of the big, brutal masterpiece The Big Heat. Today I’m taking on a “The Big” that’s got possibly the most boring variation of the title ever: The Big Clock. Oh boy. A clock, that’s big. Dull title, but a pretty damn effective metaphor for the way our lives tick away and cripple humans – wearing men down until they commit heinous activities. However, this is the first Hardboiled Hangover review where I say to you, dear reader, this movie sucks. Don’t waste your time (on a clock, a BIG clock!).

Ray Milland stars as George Stroud, the editor-in-chief- of “Crimeways” magazine. In the building where he works, there’s a BIG CLOCK, like, an enormous clock. The reason for its existence is his humpty dumpty boss Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton), who is obsessed with clocks. The building they work in reminds me of the building from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. So many gimmicks, it’s a bizarre tourist pull.

Ray’s been working his ass off for about a decade, so he finally decides to take his wife on a much-delayed honeymoon. But the night they’re supposed to catch a train, Ray winds up getting hammered. Hey man, I’ve been there. It’s fine. BUT Ray happens to get shit faced with his boss’ mistress. When Ray realizes he’s missed the honeymoon train, he dives fedora-first into a bender that’s so deep the camera starts doing trippy effects. In a rage, Janoth kills his mistress and frames Ray for it.

Man, I dunno. Emotionally and just as an audience member I didn’t connect at all with this one. The characterizations are great and the twisted plot makes it an interesting watch, but I just didn’t care about anyone in the film. And that made it a tough watch, something that was genuinely difficult to get through.

I wish I had more to say about this one, and it feels like a cop out to bail on this review so soon, but shit, The Big Clock sucked. I don’t like tossing around the term “B-noir” or “B” anything, but this film is like a “C-noir,” at best. Aw hell, it’s Sunday, chill out and watch The Big Heat instead.

Patrick Cooper

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