Although hardly unknown, The Big Clock is not as familiar as such other classic film noirs as The Big Sleep or Laura, so fans of noir and psychological thrillers who do not know this film should seek it out. Clock is immensely rewarding for all viewers, but especially for those with an inclination for moody black-and-white cinematography, twisting convoluted plots, and snappy dialogue with a certain edge. Jonathan Latimer's screenplay is clever and lean, providing just enough detail to flesh out its characters without getting in the way of the intricate plot. John Farrow's direction is top notch; he does a masterful job of creating tension and suspense, showing the audience just enough to keep them hooked without giving away too much. He skillfully melds the relatively lighthearted mood of the first portion of the film with the dangerous, desperate mood of the second part. Farrow's efforts are enormously aided by the evocative, atmospheric photography of Daniel L. Fapp and John F. Seitz. Their contributions heighten the tension without becoming overwhelming and make excellent use of shadow and light. Ray Milland is a solid presence as the hero, and Charles Laughton is a menacing delight as the villain, but Elsa Lanchester almost steals the film away from them with her bizarrely amusing supporting role.
by Craig Butler review