(1945)3Craig ButlerThe Clock was the first chance that either Judy Garland or Vincente Minnelli were given to show what they could do in a non-musical film, and they come through beautifully. A sweet (but not saccharine), gentle and perceptive film, it's small in scope but made with loving care and an attentive eye for detail. Minnelli succeeds in his stated ambition of making the City itself a third character - and it's a complex character that can both amuse and threaten, can entrance and then turn and break the heart. Using a seemingly endless array of camera angles, Minnelli captures the vastness of the City, as well as the loneliness of its inhabitants. Garland gives a wonderful, carefully calibrated performance. Her vulnerability, always inadequately masked, plays a consistent but losing battle with a tougher façade. And as always, Garland uses her eyes -- those eyes that the camera loves -- to convey a panoply of complicated emotional responses. (Significantly, Robert Walker saves himself from a difficult moment with her when he notices that her eyes are brown.) Walker is also very good, quite believable as a bumbling, good-natured not-quite-hayseed. There's an unusual chemistry between the two, a chemistry that isn't always sure of itself, which matches the insecurity of their characters' relationship. A small gem, The Clock helped prepare Garland for the dramatic challenges of A Star is Born almost a decade later.