One year, one film: 1945
The Clock, dir. Vincente Minnelli
starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker
Recommended | Highly Recommended | MUST-SEE
“Every second a heart-beat,” reads the poster for 1945’s The Clock, a sweet and sentimental wartime romance. The film tells the story of Corporal Joe Allen (Robert Walker), who has a two-day leave in New York and finds himself alone in the big city. At Penn Station, he accidentally trips Alice Maybery (Judy Garland), breaking the heel of her shoe. It’s a rocky start to a friendship, but when Alice discovers that Joe has just 48 hours free in the city, she decides to spend that time sightseeing with him… and what began as a broken-heel mishap becomes a whirlwind romance.
The first time I saw The Clock, it jumped directly on to my list of favorites. Some may say it’s overly sentimental and unrealistic, but I find it charming and love the chemistry between Walker and Garland. I don’t believe in love at first sight… but these two make me believe it for the film’s 90-minute run time.
Years after discovery, this film remains a favorite for me, placed highly on my ranking of Judy Garland films (one of my favorite actresses) as well as my general favorites list.
Did the critics of 1945 love The Clock as much as I do? Well, the reviews were somewhat mixed… but all agreed that the romance was sweet.
Our ol’ pal Bosley Crowther of The New York Times seems to have liked the film, calling it “a tender and refreshingly simple romantic drama.” The supporting performances of Keenan Wynn and James Gleason are given high praise. Crowther did take issue with Walker’s characterization of Joe, though, writing that he played the character with an “overabundance of juvenile bewilderment.”
The Film Daily praised the film’s “first-rate performances” and said that Walker and Garland made “a convincing pair of lovers.” Again, Keenan Wynn’s supporting performance received props as well.
Screenland heaped kind words on The Clock as well. The mag describes the film as a “tender, touching romance” in which “Robert Walker and Judy Garland will warm your heart.” Minnelli’s direction is described as hit-or-miss: sometimes charming, sometimes “slow-paced and arty.” Still, the review is largely positive.
I consider The Clock to be a must-see, especially for fans of wartime romance or of Judy Garland, who appears in a dramatic non-musical role.
HEADS-UP! If you’ve never seen this film before or are in the mood for a re-watch, it’s airing on TCM November 6 at 4:30 pm EST and December 12 at 4:30 pm EST.