The Clock (1945)

Land of the milquetoast dullards

The story of a whirlwind, sleepless courtship involving a New York City secretary (Judy Garland) and soldier on 48-hour leave (Robert Walker), The Clock serves as a crude precursor to Richard Linklater's far superior Before Sunrise. While both share the same, simple premise -- two just-met youngsters in flux falling in love overnight amid a string of logistical speed bumps -- the miracle of Linklater's 1995 film is its clever, subtle dialogue and the romantic chemistry between the central tandem of Ethan Hawke (not that annoying, for once) and the angelic Julie Delpy.

The Clock tanks on the exact-same terms. The dialogue is ridiculous -- not one clever line is uttered -- and both characters come off as milquetoast dullards. Overacting abounds, most ominously by the dreadful Walker, who did filmgoers a favor by overdosing on prescription drugs six years after this film was released. It's actually too bad Walker didn't die before this film, because his corpse would have had more chemistry with the then-adorable Garland, fresh off Meet Me in St. Louis and still at the peak of her celebrity.

An unfortunate byproduct of The Clock is that Garland and director/husband Vincente Minnelli were boning on the set. The result of said boning: an infant who, legend has it, was born with a fistful of Quaaludes in one hand and a coffee mug filled with bourbon affixed to the other. While Liza Minnelli shares Garland's foxy, husky voice, she looks as though someone took a pitching wedge to Mom's pretty little genes. As if Minnelli's junkie pedigree weren't enough, getting beaten at birth with the ugly stick led Liza to seek comfort in the narcotic haze of Studio 54, where she became acquainted with a string of gay artist types, most of whom she eventually married.

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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