Tuesday, February 6, 2007

THE CLOCK (MGM 1945) Warner Home Video

The Clock (1945) is one of director Vincent Minnelli and star Judy Garland’s most readily overlooked subtle little masterpieces in either’s artistic cannon. The film costars Garland as Alice Mayberry – a congenial miss who loses her heel…then her heart…to soldier boy, Cpt. Joe Allen (Robert Walker, doing a variation of his hapless good ol’ boy).

Smitten by her gallant man who is only on a two-day furlough in New York City – and with no one to share his brief leave – Alice decides to play host and show Joe the town…albeit on a very limited budget. The two tour Central Park, eat at economical restaurants and take in a seal show. It sounds hokey but it’s not.

In the end, Alice has fallen hopelessly in love with Joe and vice versa. They decide to marry before Joe has to return to his camp – recognizing that the two may indeed never see one another again. The film is imbued with Minnelli’s sublime master craftsmanship from start to finish. There is a sense that the director is really quite engaged with his material.

In one of only two non-singing roles in her otherwise musical career, Garland proves unequivocally that she was – apart from being one of the truly outstanding vocal talents of her generation – a marvelous and intense dramatic actress as well. Character actor, Keenan Wynn makes a welcomed cameo as a drunkard whom Joe and Alice meet at the luncheonette counter while on their brief holiday romp through the city. For the sheer joy of seeing these talents at the top of their form, The Clock continues to hold up as vital melodrama of the highest order.

Warner Home Video’s DVD is above average, though not quite as pristine as some of their other more recent efforts. The gray scale is quite satisfying with deep blacks and sometimes clean whites. Film grain is heavier than expected, though once one settles into its expectation the image doesn’t appear nearly that bad. Age related artifacts are present throughout. The audio is mono but well repurposed. A vintage short subject and radio broadcast are the only extras. Bottom line: recommended.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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