23 September 2012 | Doylenf
Minor noir has all the right elements and yet...
One gets the impression from watching JOHNNY O'CLOCK that the whole idea of the film is to give DICK POWELL a tough screen presence--the kind that suited Alan Ladd in his early films. He's a cool man surrounded by a bunch of surly characters out to get him. He's good with a punch and a punch line, but all the while he leaves you feeling this story is too slow-paced and a bit rambling to become a tight thriller such as MURDER, MY SWEET.
Everyone in the cast does their job nimbly, with LEE J. COBB chewing away at this cigar to make sure he steals every other scene, and ELLEN DREW and EVELYN KEYES doing well in contrasting femme leads. The sets have a noir look with excellent B&W photography, but the trouble is the script which is not compelling enough to draw a viewer into the story about a murdered hatcheck girl (NINA FOCH) and the search for her killer.
All the elements of film noir are there but Robert Rossen's direction cannot tie them together with a tight enough grip. Nevertheless, worth a watch if you're a fan of this genre.