Monday, August 4, 2014


Watched this movie for the umpteenth time tonight. It was made in 1944 toward the end of World War Two and reflects the world I'd been born into a few years before, which is probably why I'm so sentimental about it. It's hokey and corny and full of typical 1940s Hollywood bits, some even almost a little hysterical, in the not-funny way. And the old Hollywood gimmicks for reproducing Manhattan are sometimes pretty lame from the vantage of 2014, yet the set for the old Penn Station not only makes me miss that iconic structure no longer with us even more than I do, but it also makes me miss old Hollywood sets that could reproduce something so vast and complicated so perfectly

But THE CLOCK is also extremely poignant and romantic, and Vincent Minnelli adds his unique perspective to camera movements and angles and framing. And for my money it may be the best, or at least at times most subtle, acting Judy Garland ever did. After THE CLOCK, she and Minnelli married, so it's also one of the movies she looks her best in (along with another collaboration between her and Minnelli, MEET ME IN SAINT LOUIS). And Robert Wagner hadn't started doing creepy characters yet, was still the iconic WWII innocent-on-his-way-to-war, and did it perfectly.

When I first arrived in Hollywood, I met all kinds of people who predicted movie stardom for me, and one was a well known and highly successful producer who my then wife knew. We spent an afternoon at his comfortable Malibu home that had a pool in it even though it was on the beach (I discovered this wasn't uncommon there) and as he and his wife sat outside the pool watching me and my wife in it, they started talking about how much I reminded them of Robert Walker.

Walker was long dead and mostly forgotten. But not by me, even though I was younger than this couple. I've been, like most of us, told I looked like various famous people, and sometimes it stoked my ego (Brando and Eastwood), and sometimes it pissed me off (Dennis Hopper and Alan Alda) but being told I reminded these Hollywood pros of Robert Walker just made me feel totally fulfilled. Like I didn't ever have to do anything again, because someone had compared me to Robert Walker.

If you know THE CLOCK, or watch it, you probably won't get why. He was a skinny, seemingly perpetually naive, boyish young man, or played that type anyway. Not the image I and others had of me. Except for the skinny part.  But as a kid I'd always felt like we had something in common, something I was totally grateful to share even if only secretly in my soul, and now here was this experienced, successful, smart Hollywood movie producer who seemed to know what he was talking about and shared that with me like equals (he told me I should do what he did and make one movie for the studio, then one for me, then one for them, etc.) saying I evoked the spirit and presence of a man who'd been his friend and I'd admired and identified with as a boy, Robert Walker.

Walker and Garland both have what some might see as cheesy moments in THE CLOCK, but they also each have some stunningly realistic moments of what new love looks and behaves and reacts like, as realistic as anything the "New Hollywood" guys came up with decades later. And it still works for me.

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