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Johnny O’Clock

USA 1947. Dir: Robert Rossen. 95 min. DCP

Johnny O’Clock, suave ladies’ man and junior partner in a New York gambling den owned by a mobster, is in a heap of trouble: the boss’s wife is in love with him; a crooked cop is out to get him; and the casino’s hat-check girl has just turned up dead. And that’s for starters! Screenwriter Robert Rossen’s directorial debut is a hard-boiled noir thriller replete with seedy atmosphere, complex plotting, moody visuals (by prolific noir cameraman and Bonnie and Clyde Oscar-winner Burnett Guffey), and an array of colourful characters. Dick Powell (Murder My Sweet) has the lead; the fine cast includes Evelyn Keyes, Ellen Drew, Nina Foch, and a cigar-chomping Lee J. Cobb. Rossen, blacklisted in the 1950s, would go on to direct Body and Soul (also 1947), All the King’s Men, and The Hustler.

REVIEWS

"A smart whodunit, with attention to scripting, casting and camerawork lifting it above the average."

Variety | full review