The Clock

Year: 1945
Studio: MGM
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Robert Nathan/Joseph Schrank/Paul Gallico/Pauline Gallico
Cast: Judy Garland, Robert Walker

I wanted to see this movie because I realised at some point I'd never seen Judy Garland in anything else except for The Wizard of Oz, and I wanted to see if she could play more than an all-innocent Kansas teenager.

The answer? Not really. It seems audiences and studios loved her for her sweet, all-American girl next door shtick and she traded on it more than any other skill, even playing an office girl in wartime New York.

We meet her romantic foil in Joe Allen (Robert Walker), a soldier with a few days shore leave in the Big Apple. A smalltown guy, Joe finds himself a bit overwhelmed by the bustle and crowds of Grand Central Station, but when he sees harried office girl Alice (Garland), he's smitten.

The most interest historical artifact about the movie is the way we identify with Joe following Alice around to a degree that would be enough to prompt a face full of pepper spray nowadays, but his hangdog appeal and almost pleading for her company wins her over and she agrees to show him some of the sights.

The plot is very slight – it doesn't do much more than follow the burgeoning lovebirds around in a fairly episodic fashion (meeting and spending time with the milkman and his wife, looking over the city from the park, etc).

When they decide on a whim to get married, it suddenly becomes a Brazil-like satire of bureaucracy as they rush from one office to another getting blood tests that clear them for matrimony, the judge to sign the paper, the celebrant to oversee the vows, etc.

When it seems they feel like they rushed into it so fast they didn't have time to enjoy it (and therefore have regrets), it feels like the movie's going to say something more than it has thus far, but it ultimately glosses over it to become another heartstring-tugging golden age love story with a Henry Mancini-esque score. It probably had them in the aisles in the mid 40s, but there's nothing very sophisticated to grab you nowadays.

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