The Clock 1945
In 1945 a young soldier newly arrived in New York City, stands confused and lost in the hustle and bustle of New York City’s Penn Station. He peaks outside and is so overwhelmed by what he sees and hears that he scurries back into the station and buys a newspaper to see what he can make of this place. Si...tting on the bottom step of the grand staircase, his lanky legs extended and unaware of what and who is passing in front of him he peruses the paper. Suddenly a young girl walks by, trips over his leg, and knocks the heel of her shoe off. So begins the The Clock Vincente Minnelli’s lovely romantic fable of love found, lost and then found again in Manhattan during the last year of World War II. The young soldier is played by Robert Walker and the young woman is played by Judy Garland, both achingly sweet and beautiful and both destined in real life to doom. But enough of that. Walker plays a small town guy in the city on leave for just two days, and he soon becomes very smitten with the young Garland. After some awkward talk between the two, she agrees to let him tag along with her as she rides one of those long lost delectable double decker buses that use to own 5th avenue. She points out the sights to him, they visit a nearly empty Metropolitan Museum, take a stroll in Central Park and we can see that they are taken with each other and who could blame either of them. But she is hastate about seeing him for a real date that night and they say their goodbyes. Judy continues on her way home on the bus. and looking out the window she sees that Walker is running along side the bus begging her to see him that night, as the other riders laugh and grin at the spectacle of him racing the bus. Judy finally agrees to meet him under the clock at the Astor Hotel later that night. So their New York City adventure and love affair begins within studio sets and process shots of this 1945 city that no longer exists. Beautifully directed by Vincente Minnelli who does a great job guiding Garland (they had just married) in her first non-singing role as Alice. This guy knows how to move his camera. It rolls along through subways and crowds and neighborhood streets that he fills with little bits of business that ring true. Little children playing, neighborhood women hanging out of windows, garbage trucks picking up the trash, milk men doing their deliveries and he actually shows quite a few African Americans which for the time and Hollywood was very unusual. Some may be turned off by the cuteness of the film, or may even find it trite. Not me I was enthralled by it once more, and caught up in the romance and the lovely work by every one involved both in front of and behind the camera. Of special note is a small bit by Moyna MaGill who was Angela Lansbury’s mom as a somewhat raggedy and put upon customer in a luncheonette who is trying to eat her dinner. MaGill pretty much walks off with the scene. Also lovely and true is the breakfast scene with Garland and Walker and James Gleason as a milkman and his wife Lucile Gleason who were husband and wife in real life. Also notable is the cinematography by George Folsey and the great art direction by William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons and Edwin B. Willis. The Penn Station set is absolutely amazing, and when I first saw the film many years ago I thought that they had actually filmed the movie there. Watching this movie is like finding a tender time capsule of place and performance. One of the ten best films of 1945.