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Johnny O'Clock

Screening on Film
Directed by Robert Rossen.
With Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Ellen Drew.
US, 1947, 35mm, black & white, 85 min.
Print source: Sony Pictures

During a battle between director and producer over contracts, the film’s direction fell into the seasoned screenwriter’s lap and for his directorial debut, Rossen composed a spry, noirish murder mystery spun around a corrupt network of assorted characters whose connections to one another only gradually come into focus. The enigmatic man with the interesting name eludes definition – a casino boss who never gambles – and delicately dances around an ornate array of broken female companions and business partners – many of whom are likewise linked to each other by unsteady emotional and economic dependency. Cordially spurning attachment or purpose, O’Clock is finally jolted into existential action by the persistence of a clever detective and the murder victim’s beguiling sister.

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The Bodies and Souls of Robert Rossen

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