Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Big Clock (1948): Beware the Boss from HELL!

This post is part of the Sleuthathon,  hosted by Fritzi Kramer of Movies, Silently, from March 16th through March 17th, 2014.  Don your deerstalkers and have a great time!

Ironically, this is NOT a scene from The Lost Weekend!

Paramount’s 1948 thriller The Big Clock (TBC), based on poet/novelist Kenneth Fearing’s 1946 suspense novel, is not only a riveting hunted-man story with a fresh twist, but also a cautionary tale about what can happen if you let your job dictate your life:
  1. You’ll miss your own honeymoon, as well as every family vacation.
  2. Your marriage will suffer as your loving, understanding wife and child start to lose faith in you, along with your endless excuses, as your family life erodes.
  3. What am I saying?  Family life?  What family life?  Kiss it goodbye!
  4. Worst of all, when your obsessive, uber-controlling Boss From Hell kills someone in a fit of rage, you just might find yourself suspected of the crime!

Happily, in real life, TBC was a family affair, with director John Farrow (Five Came Back; His Kind of Woman) working with his real-life wife Maureen O’Sullivan (The Thin Man; Tarzan the Ape Man and its many sequels).  Last but far from least, Farrow cast the real-life husband-and-wife team of Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, who also teamed up for Witness for the Prosecution, the latter earning Oscar nominations for both Charles and Elsa!  It’s even a reunion of sorts for star Ray Milland and composer Victor Young, who brought us the 1944 chiller The Uninvited, also starring Milland; who could forget the beautiful “Stella by Starlight,” as well as the delightful Road to Morocco? 

Poor George!  Maybe he can give his pursuers
the slip by pretending to be a light display! 
Stop the presses!
Overworked George
tells boss where to get off: Wheeling, West Virginia!
Noel Neill of The Adventures of Superman wishes
she could fly up, up, and away from fresh elevator operators!
Janoth Publication's big clock: The Hands of Fate!
"Georgette, it's not what you think! 
We're singing along with Pauline to "Do-Re-Me!"

Set in NYC (in 1948,that was present-day), TBC introduces us to George Stroud (Milland), letting us in on our anxious hero’s innermost thoughts as he hides in the giant clock in the Janoth Publications lobby at night.  George works for a huge Time-Warner/Henry Luce-style publishing company.  Director of Photography John F.Seitz (Double Indemnity; The Lost Weekend) works superbly in the film’s “docu-noir” style, with Edith Head’s costume design always a pleasure to see.  In flashbacks, we see that despite being married for seven years, George and his lovely and charming wife Georgette (O’Sullivan) have never had a honeymoon. We also learn  that the head man at Janoth Publications, Earl Janoth  (Laughton), hired George after he cracked a major murder case on his old newspaper in Wheeling, WV, and control-freak Janoth hasn’t given George a day off since, always snatching the Stroud family’s vacations from under them at the very last minute.  Adorably enough, George and Georgette have a young son, George Jr.  With the prestige and great salary Crimeways  affords him, George has always been reluctant to say “No” to Janoth, especially since Janoth does NOT take “No!” for an answer.  However, our hero is getting fed up, big-time!  So is Georgette, who sadly notes, “Sometimes I think you married that magazine instead of me…Little George hardly knows you...We’re like two strangers sharing an apartment.”  George and Georgette do their best to get as much family time as possible under the circumstances; perhaps that’s why the Stroud family’s names are all in various versions of the name “George”— papa George, mama Georgette, and son George Jr., sometimes even just calling each other “George” just for the heck of it.  At least it helps the family to keep track of each other!  You have to wonder how George and Georgette even got time to start a family!  

Louise Paterson tries to get her painting back, only to find she's in a bidding war!

Meet Pauline York, Janoth's mistress, an aspiring singer.
 Is she tired of singing for her supper, or does she have a veiled agenda?

Time really is money in Earl Janoth’s tight, suffocating world; for instance, this phone conversation between Janoth’s right-hand man Steve Hagen (George Macready from Gilda; Paths of Glory; My Name is Julia Ross): “On the fourth floor, in the broom closet, a bulb has been burning for several days.  Find the man responsible, dock his pay.”  I know we’re all trying to conserve energy (even back in the 1940s), but Janoth doesn’t have to be a tyrant about it!  In this sharp, twisty manhunt thriller, the renowned mystery writer Jonathan Latimer (The Glass Key; They Won’t Believe Me; TV’s Perry Mason) had ably adapted Fearing’s novel for the silver screen, with its blend of suspense, urban cynicism, and smart, snappy dialogue virtually intact.  I also find it intriguing that everything at Janoth Publications seems to be carved in stone, all cold and unyielding.   George does make big money at Janoth Publications,and it’s always cool to work in the big city, but I’ve also known people like George, who have grueling hours and no time to themselves, to the detriment of their family lives, with some co-workers even getting divorces from the pressure.

Check out the Crimeways Clue Chart!  That'll fix those no-goodniks!
I happen to love both the novel and the Paramount movie version of The Big Clock.  The book is more gritty and complex, but there’s also plenty of wry humor in it, too.  For example, in Kenneth Fearing’s novel, the Strouds actually have a little daughter, Georgia.  My husband Vinnie and I always get a kick out of the scenes with the Stroud family at breakfast; they always crack us up, because they remind us of our own goofy yet loving family life (not to put the whammy on it!  We’re great believers in not taking our happiness for granted).  For instance, here’s the Stroud family at breakfast in the novel, starting with papa George:

“Orange juice,” I said, drinking mine.  “These oranges just told me they came from Florida. 

My daughter gave me a glance of startled faith.  “I didn’t hear anything,” she said.”

“You didn’t?  One of them said they all came from a big ranch near Jacksonville….”

Here’s my own favorite Georgia Breakfast Bit Breakfast scene from the novel, where George regales us with The Adventures of Cynthia!  She’s…

“…about five, I think.  Or maybe it was seven… (she) also had a habit of kicking her feet against  the table whenever she ate.  Day after day, week in and week out, year after year, she kicked it and kicked it.  Then one fine day the table said, ‘I’m getting pretty tired of this, and with that it pulled back its leg, and whango, it booted Cynthia clear out of the window.  Was she surprised.”

This one was a complete success.  Georgia’s feet pounded in double-time, and she upset what was left of her milk…”

Some of the film’s grittier elements were softened a bit in the 1948 film version, probably for the Breen Office’s sake.  For instance, Janoth and Pauline’s fight in the film results from infidelity between Janoth and his mistress and possible aspiring blackmailer Pauline York (played by radio actor-turned-film star Rita Johnson from Here Comes Mr. Jordan; Sleep, My Love; Billy Wilder’s The Major and the Minor.  The film is as gripping as the book, sometimes more so.  In Fearing’s novel, our hero George Stroud talks about the “big clock” which inevitably runs our lives no matter what:

“Sometimes the hands of the clock actually raced, and at other times they hardly moved at all. But that made no difference to the big clock…all other watches have to be set by the big one, which is even more powerful than the calendar, and to which one automatically adjusts his entire life…” 

Keeping in mind that film is, of course, a visual medium, the “big clock” metaphor becomes a literal big clock — a huge clock/globe that can tell you the time anywhere in the world — and lots of little clocks sprinkled all over the headquarters of Janoth Publications, a Henry Luce/Time-Warner style magazine empire whose periodicals include ace editor George’s magazine Crimeways , as well as Airways; Newsways; Sportways; Styleways; etc. in the 1948 film version.  Janoth and Pauline’s fight in the film was the result of infidelity, but in the novel, their affair ends in murder when each accuses the other of being a closeted gay (keep in mind this was 1946).
"Georgette, darling, I was desolate!  Thank goodness
this was the film version so I couldn't get into worse trouble!"

George and Georgette better enjoy his firing while they can,
before George has to clear himself, by George!
Henchman Bill doesn't talk much, but I bet he's thinking:
"Life is too short to massage this jerk! I'm joining the Army"!

What's this? A sundial, used for a shady purpose!
It’s not all family fun and games when Earl Janoth’s mistress, Pauline York (Rita Johnson of The Major and the Minor; Sleep, My Love; Susan Slept Here) overhears George justifiably bellyaching to Janoth’s right hand man, Steve Hagen (George Macready from Gilda; Paths of Glory; My Name is Julia Ross) about his treatment at Janoth’s hands. At the Van Barth bar, Pauline tries to involve George in a blackmail scheme targeting Janoth, but George isn’t interested, though he does finally stand up to Janoth, getting himself fired and blackballed, and drowns his sorrows at the bar with Pauline, only to realize too late that he missed his train, with his disappointed family already heading to West Virginia without him. It’s The Lost Weekend time as the tipsy George and Pauline go on a bar crawl all over the East Side of Manhattan, hunting for green clocks to spite Janoth on behalf of a colleague who was fired for wanting to use red ink.  Sheesh, Ray Milland’s characters really need to knock off the booze!  Didn’t Ray Milland learn anything from The Lost Weekend?  George and Pauline drop by Burt’s Place (Frank Orth from; Lady in the Lake; Wonder Man, and of course, The Lost Weekend), where you can find anything from a bubble to a sundial, in keeping with the time theme.  The tipsy George and Pauline keep the sundial as a souvenir.  George is also lucky enough to get a painting by George’s favorite artist, Louise Patterson (Lanchester) .  Of course, she’d probably appreciate it more if George hadn’t taken it from her in an impromptu auction, as she huffs, “It’s a pity the wrong people have money!”

In Fearing’s novel, Janoth’s mistress is Pauline Delos.  Janoth and Pauline have a far more heated quarrel in this version, starting with sex between George and Pauline, which they’d apparently been doing for some time!  For people who are always swamped, they always seem to find time to be frisky!  Anyway, one night,  after a visit to Pauline’s pad, Janoth spots George in the shadows; fortunately, he couldn’t  actually see George clearly.   This time, Janoth and Pauline have a far more heated argument in the novel as they each draw first blood.  Compare and contrast each version:

The Movie Version:
Janoth: “At least this time he wears a clean shirt.”

Pauline: “Are you bringing that up again?  Throwing that cab driver in my face?  You never forget him, do you?”
Janoth: “No.  Do you?”
Pauline:  “No, you cheap imitation Napolean! 
Janoth:  “And you don’t forget the bellboy or the lifeguard  last summer, or the tout at Saratoga, and who knows how many others?  You don’t forget any of them, including the one to come.”

George leads the Crimeways manhunt for "Jefferson Randolph," with ace investigator Bert Finch!
He saved us all from The Thing from Another World, for goodness' sake!
Pauline: “Do you think you could make any woman happy?  Have you  lived this long without knowing that everybody laughs at ya behind your back?  You’d be  You’d be pathetic if you weren’t so disgusting!” (Ouch!)

The Novel’s Version
(Prepare for swear words and adult situations!)

“At least this time, it’s a man.” 

“Are you bringing that thing up again?  Throwing Alice in my face?...You talk.  You, of all people….What about you and Steve Hagen?...Do you think I’m blind?  Did I ever see you two together when you weren’t camping?...As if you weren’t married to that guy, all your life…Go on, you son of a bitch, try to act surprised.”

Well, Pauline is surprised, all right—dead surprised when Janoth loses it, killing  Pauline in a fit of rage!  Whango—was Pauline ever surprised!  Which just goes to show that booze, adultery, and vicious insults are no way to go through life, kids!  In the film version, George and Pauline’s relationship in the film ends as fast as it starts, with him waking up fully-clothed on her couch after their pub crawl.  Seeing Janoth’s car on the street, Pauline hustles the dazed George out the door. Alas, Janoth is outside waiting for his turn with the sly blonde. Though he doesn’t see George’s face as he slips out of sight, Janoth still suspects the worst. He lets Pauline have it, bludgeoning her with the heavy sundial, killing her instantly. The tight close-ups on the quarreling lovers’ angry faces, especially Janoth’s; nobody’s jowls quiver like Charles Laughton’s!   In any case, these scene adds enough intensity to make up for the bowdlerized argument before the murder.

The desperate but wily Janoth gets a brainwave: he’ll have Steve rig the clues to misdirect suspicion, and he’ll recruit the crack staff of Crimeways to track down the culprit, catching a killer and boosting magazine sales at the same time—and who better to lead the manhunt than our own George Stroud!  George can’t turn Janoth down this time; by leading the investigation, he can help to save himself do with some clever misdirection, buying time for our hero to find the real killer as the tension mounts ; George is actually doing double duty as both cat and mouse!  If George doesn’t deserve a huge bonus if he escapes this nightmare, I don’t know who does!  Fans of TV’s Harry Morgan of  M*A*S*H  fame will get a swell change of pace as a superbly sinister henchman!

On a bittersweet note, Rita Johnson didn’t quite live happily ever after.  In a twist of fate, Rita was seriously injured at a beauty parlor when a 40-pound hood which apparently frequently fell to the floor frequently.  Nowadays, she’d lawyer up and sue those dopes!  There were also rumors that Rita’s then-beau, Broderick Crawford (who went on to win an Oscar for All The King’s Men) had roughed her up, but there was no proof.  Rita managed to get supporting roles, but she was never really the same, and she died at the age of 52.To borrow a line from North by Northwest, it’s so horribly sad, how is it I feel like laughing?

R.I.P. to Pauline York, would-be blackmailer.  The cleaning lady isn't gonna like this!

Louise Patterson: "I think I've captured this mood rather successfully, don't you?
(Actual dialogue from the film as George is aided and abbetted by Louise!)
Check out The Los Angeles Review of Books for more on “The Booby-Trapped Life of Rita Johnson” by Matt Weinstock (August 13, 2013).” 

Leave it to a radio actor to help George save his bacon!
(Lloyd Corrigan is one of Team Bartilucci's favorite character actors!)

Baby, you're the greatest!  Wheeling, West Virginia,
we're going home, for keeps!

Milland’s superb performance balances suavity, sympathy, and desperation. He and O’Sullivan ring true as a loving couple whose relationship is being sorely tested. Laughton is marvelously odious and sadistic with a pathetic undercurrent. Macready makes a stylishly devious right-hand man. The supporting cast includes a silent, sinister young Harry Morgan as a masseur-cum-henchman.  I was delighted to see one of our favorite character actors, Douglas Spencer of Double Indemnity and The Thing from Another World as Crimeways  reporter Bert Finch (not to be confused with Burt from Burt’s Place, played by Frank Orth); and the ever-jolly Lloyd Corrigan (the Boston Blackie films;  It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World;  The Manchurian Candidate)  played Burt’s pal, a radio actor of a thousand  guises,  including the faux suspect known only as “Jefferson Randolph.”  TBC has been reworked twice, as 1987’s No Way Out and 2003’s Out of Time. They’re both fun movies, but TBC is still my favorite version of the story.



  1. Yeah, I'd want to hide in a high-tech, Fritz Lang METROPOLIS style clock if the deal was about to go down on me. The top of the Statue of Liberty's getting too crowded as it is.

    (Heck, if the interior of the clock featured a bathroom, a kitchenette and soundproofing, it's the sort of place I wouldn't mind as an efficiency apartment. Can we all say PHANTOM OF THE LOBBY CLOCK?)

    Love this movie, especially for Charles Laughton's nibbling on the scenery style of acting here (his habit of idly stroking his lip was nicely sinister, if not outright reptilian. Wasn't SNAKEWAYS one of the Janoth Publications?). He was sort of the bridge between Rudolf Klein-Rogge's Haghi (from SPIONE) and the better Blofelds from the later James Bond films (a pity Laughton couldn't have been born later, so he could show everyone how Blofeld should've been performed . . . but then who would Elsa Lanchester have to chum around with?).

    A definite must see piece of noir.

    1. Michael, my friend, you always make me a little more smart and erudite with your comments here at TotED, with your comments about Spione (English title: Spies, a.k.a. SPIES), bless you! You've also got me giggling about "The PHANTOM OF THE LOBBY CLOCK" and your quip "SNAKEWAYS"! Ah, to see Charles and Elsa in a Bond movie the way you suggest! By the way, Michael, regarding your quip about the Empire State Building, I dare say NYC denizens would be clawing tooth and nail to get protagonist George Stroud's initial hiding place to live in, since any decent NYC apartment is up for grabs, even a if it's a hiding place in a big clock! :-) It's always swell to have you join us here at TotED! :-D

  2. Thanks so much for a fabulous review! I especially enjoyed your comparisons between the book and the film. You're so right about the advantages of the visual medium in conveying symbols like the big clock. Thanks for participating!

    1. Fritzi, thanks and you're and most welcome! I really appreciated your enthusiastic review of my BIG CLOCK post; I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks also for letting me play in your garden in your wonderful Sleuthathon! :-D

  3. I loved looking at "The Big Clock" with the Dorian commentary track.

    "For people who are always swamped, they always seem to find time to be frisky!" There's a lesson here about the importance of prioritization.

    I think it must be the cast that makes "The Big Clock" stand out from the other adaptions. Stellar, to say the least. Harry Morgan's role is so unique and he carries it off beautifully.

    Have you ever seen the Roy & Dale movie "Lights of Old Santa Fe". You'd get a kick out of Lloyd Corrigan playing a radio actor.

    1. Caftan Woman, You put a big smile on my face with your comments: "I loved looking at "The Big Clock" with the Dorian commentary track"as well as" "For people who are always swamped, they always seem to find time to be frisky!" There's a lesson here about the importance of prioritization." And does THE BIG CLOCK have a swell cast of stars and great character actors, or what? And as the icing on the cake, thanks for the tip about LIGHTS OF OLD SANTA FE; I've got to see Lloyd Corrigan as a radio actor in a Roy Rogers/Dale Evans movie! Thanks for your enthusiastic praise, my friend, and warmest wishes to you and yours from all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ! :-D

  4. Excellent review because you read the book and saw both versions or was there three versions? Fascinating stuff. I love publishing house movies because I came from the newspaper business and I'll have to find this one some day.

    1. Eve, I'm delighted to hear from you! It's been crazy-busy here in Northeastern PA, so I'm glad to catch up with you! I'm so pleased you were able to enjoy THE BIG CLOCK in all its forms, from novel to film; I count at least 3 versions, including NO WAY OUT with Kevin Costner, and OUT OF TIME with Denzel Washington, though the filmmakers of the latter didn't go out of their way to credit the late Kenneth Fearing (how naughty!) Thanks so much for your great comments, my friend, and warmest wishes to you and yours! :-D

  5. The book doesn't sound half bad.

    1. Rich, if you have free time to read the novel, it's definitely a fascinating read, with a great blend of both humor and paranoia!

  6. Dorian! Terrific analysis of "The Big Clock" Film + Novel Combo Pack! You always include info about the film, background and folks who contributed to the project. I feel like a real smarty pants after reading your posts!

    I've only seen this film once, but I know it shows up frequently on the TCM schedule. The next time it's on TCM, I'll be sure to view it with your post at hand!

    1. Ruth, I really got a kick out of your kind praise and your witty comments on "The Big Clock" Film + Novel Combo Pack! I feel like a real smarty pants after reading your posts!" Thanks a million for your kind kudos for my labor of love, my friend! Also, I totally enjoyed your Sleuthathon entry! :-D

  7. I have to admit, I still prefer NO WAY OUT (closer in spirit to Fearing's novel, even if it changes the setting; plus, I love the twist ending), but I've gotten to appreciate TBC over the years, especially Laughton and Macready's performances, and I enjoyed your write-up.

    1. Sean, my friend, I think there's room for more than one version of THE BIG CLOCK and NO WAY OUT! :-) In fact, I've always considered Denzel Washington's film OUT OF TIME to be a tropical version of THE BIG CLOCK, since those films seem to me they have many elements in comment, and I agree NO WAY OUT has a stunning twist! Thanks for your most kind comments!

  8. How have I not seen this? There's no excuse really, as I even own a (unread!) copy of the book. I always love reading about individual's comparisons between book and film (even if I can't make my own) and this was a fun and insightful post. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey, Girls Do Film, thank you kindly for your enthusiastic comments about the movie version of THE BIG CLOCK! I know it's not always each to catch up with our favorite books, even when they turn into movies; as our hero George Stroud says in the 1948 film version, "Time! There's too much of it!" (Believe me, I have the same problem! :-)) In any case, I'm delighted that you enjoyed my BIG CLOCK post; thank for joining the conversation! :-D

  9. Been waiting for your review since you mentioned it over at 24frames a few weeks back. Would like to read the novel if I can get around to it. My current list is rather long (LOL). It was worth the wait! The film is definitely a warning to folks not to let the job run your life. I also think that's what keeps this film so modern today. Corporate greed then and now. You, my lady, never disappoint!

    1. John, bless your heart for remembering my comment on your own excellent post about THE BIG CLOCK over at Twenty-Four Frames a while back! :-D Like you, I have plenty books I want to read and so little time to to give them my undivided attention, but THE BIG CLOCK has long been one of my favorites, so I'm glad that, thanks to you and Fritzi's swell Sleuthathon, I've been able to help spread the good word about both the superb novel and the great movie (or rather, movies, since there's three versions.) You had me smiling at "You, my lady, never disappoint!" Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, my friend, and warmest wishes to you and Dorothy from all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ! :-D

  10. I love this movie, I LOVE Elsa's bit! laugh out loud funny portrait that looks like him "more or less"...his smug self satisfied look, haha. Did you know that no less an expert than Raymond Chandler was a fan of the novel and said it made his own writing look bad. I agree Harry Morgan does a good turn here, and really the whole thing is really gripping. Great post! cheers

    1. Kristina, thanks for your kind kudos about my BIG CLOCK post, my friend! I'm pleased as the proverbial punch that you enjoyed it, as well as you being as pleased as I was to find that Raymond Chandler was a fan of Kenneth Fearing as well; Chandler was known to be a prickly pear at times, but he knew terrific noir fiction when he read it, not to mention writing it! :-D And how adorable is Elsa? She always cracks me up, bless her, among an already superb cast! Thanks again, pal, and warmest wishes and all good things to you and your family from all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ!

  11. Wow. Now I want to read the book. I've always enjoyed the movie, but now I look forward to seeing it again with your comments in mind. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

    1. Joe, I'm happy to see you're getting a hankering for the original novel THE BIG CLOCK! I love both the film and book, but I'm confident you'll find the novel both suspenseful and thoughtful! Thanks for joining the BIG CLOCK conversation! :-)

  12. I watched this film because I saw it'd be reviewed in the blogathon, and girl, I couldn't be more satisfied! I loved it! Mauren O'Sullivan's character bothered me sometimes, but all the rest was perfect. I love how Elsa Lanchester can steal every single scene she is in. I can't complain about Ray, and his dizzy moment really looks lik something that should have appeared in The Lost Weekend.
    I laughed with the captions you put in the pictures. Oh, and by the way, the film here in Brazil is called The Green Clock, in allusion to what killed Pauline... and was nver used to prove Geroge's our Janoth's guilty.
    Don't forget to red my contribution to the blogathon! :)

    1. Le, thanks so much for your enthusiastic review of THE BIG CLOCK! My family and I love Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester whether they're playing good guys or bad guys, but Elsa always steals the show, bless her heart! I can understand why Maureen O'Sullivan's wife character might have bothered you, but keep in mind that the film was made in the late 1940s, and wives back then probably felt more frustrated, with fewer options as mothers stayed home with the kids, and worries about femme fatale types like the Pauline York characters; after all, you can't fault people for NOT being ahead of their time. It's great to have more career options here in the 21st century! I'm delighted that you enjoyed my captions and my pictures, and thanks for the information about "The Green Clock"! I really enjoyed your post, Le; thanks, my friend! :-D

  13. I am ashamed to reveal that I have never watched The Big Clock. Why? I have no idea -- particularly after reading your marvelous article! It sounds like everything I would like -- not to mention Ray Milland, for whom I tend to salivate whenever I see him. (My favorite pic and caption here is the very top one -- it certainly DOES look like it comes from The Lost Weekend. As usual, a very fun read as well as an interesting post, Dorian...

    1. Becky, I'm delighted that you enjoyed my take on THE BIG CLOCK; thanks a million for your kind kudos, Big Sis! You're always a gal after my own heart anyway, but especially when Ray Milland is involved; you're right, Ray is definitely worth salivating about! :-) (And I must confess the GIF with tipsy Ray is my fave, too! :-) ) Warmest wishes to you and yours from your Little Sis and all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ! :-D

  14. Dear Dorian: Your new picture about the Big Clock looks good. GoodJob!!!

    Love always,
    Cara and Barry

    1. Thanks, Cara, Barry! Vinnie and I are glad you enjoyed THE BIG CLOCK Love to all!

  15. You've outdone yourself with this review, Dorian! I always know I'll get a kick just from reading your captions and you didn't disappoint. But it was a great surprise and pleasure to get all that extra information about the original book. I had no idea that Janoth and his mistress were gay...or at least bisexual. Adds another weird little dimension to an already engrossing movie. I agree with Caftan Woman that it's the stellar cast that really lifts this one, without a weak link in the bunch (even if poor Maureen Sullivan does kind of get the short end of the stick). Elsa Lanchester is a complete delight.

    So glad you decided to join the blogathon and that you decided to treat us to such an in-depth, witty, and creative review.

    1. Aubyn, you've really made my day with your enthusiastic comments about my BIG CLOCK post; I'm so delighted you enjoyed it! It would have been easy to just watch the 1948 movie (besides, I love it anyway), but Kenneth Fearing's novel has long been one of my favorites as well as the movie, so I really wanted get into all the complicated the characters as much as I reasonably could, including the bisexual characters. In fact, when my mom first saw me reading the novel and read the scene with Janoth and Pauline, to quote the novel, whango, was she ever surprised! :-) Luckily, my dear late Mom was a free spirit in many ways, bless her, and she loved movies and novels as much as Vinnie and I do. THE BIG CLOCK and WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION are high on our list of our favorite Laughton and Lanchester movies! Thanks a million for your kind kudos and warm praise, Aubyn; I was happy to join the Sleuthathon fun! :-D

  16. I'm sorry Dorian but I just have an awful lot of trouble picturing Charles Laughton with a hotsy totsy blond. Ha! I mean, really. Think about it. What woman in her right mind? But then, Elsa Lanchester apparently saw something in him and truth to tell, in WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION he did have a certain something. (Not saying what.) But remember him in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY? OMG! I'm sorry, Dorian, I can't get past that. I know, I know, I'm showing my shallow roots. I'm sure in reality he was a charmer. :)

    Hey, by the way, one of your paragraphs has doubled up in the body of your post. I thought I was seeing double and guess what - I was! :)

    1. Yvette, you're a delightful wit, as always! I've always assumed that Rita Johnson in THE BIG CLOCK was just using Charles Laughton's character as a sugar daddy who also happened to be a cheapskate; no wonder their characters were bickering! :-) Laughton and Elsa Lanchester had what you might call a bohemian relationship, those dear little scamps, but it certainly seemed to work out well for them. As I've mentioned, in addition to THE BIG CLOCK, my favorite Laughton and Lanchester films include WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. Did you ever hear Charles and Elsa singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside"? It's a hoot! Ah well, we can't all be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or the like! I always enjoy your bon mots, my friend! And thanks a million for pointing out my goof in my BIG CLOCK post; I had a funny feeling I had unwittingly missed something, so I truly appreciate your help. Many thanks for your help and your good humor, my friend, and I hope you and your family are happy and well and have a great weekend!

      P.S.: RUGGLES OF RED GAP is another film Laughton film I'd like to see; what I saw of it was great fun, and boy, he sure looked young!)