The Big Clock (1948)


This has a crackerjack beginning: you zoom into a city through a window (common today but rare then) tracking a man going into the inner workings of a giant clock, then we zoom from the inside of the clock top the outside, then focusing on the time, zoom back three days and across the lobby we scan to find our man. Then the camera sticks to him as he walks across and into an elevator. Cut and he is inside and we learn something about the elevator’s door which features later.

That clock. The fact that the building is a beehive of storymachines all driven by that clock. Then we fall into a conventional noir: average Joe falls into a machinery of fate that knowingly ruins his life.

This guy loses his job, his family and gets framed for murder. Then the twist: he becomes part of the machine intent on grinding him up and the position of the narrator changes from inside noir to outside. It begins as a noir and ends as a happy Hollywood confection.

This is an unsatisfying film to watch: the ending of the remake is far more intelligent. But it is a great film to start and think about afterward.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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