by Herbie J Pilato
A couple of movies after she went off to see The Wizard of Oz, and a few films before he became one of the Strangers on A Train, Judy Garland and Robert Walker (father to Robert Walker, Jr. Charlie X of original Star Trek fame) co-starred in a beautiful little motion picture titled, The Clock (released in 1945).
Garland played the sweet Alice Mayberry of New York City, and Walker played a soldier named Corporal Joe Allen, who visited (by train) the Big Apple on furlough.
They met when she broke her high heel by the escalator he was standing next to.
They didn’t think they’d meet again, but made a date to meet in front of a big clock, close-by.
Along the way, they encounter a milk man and his wife (James Gleason and Mrs. Al Henry), a drunk (Kennan Winn); and a myriad of other characters, each introduced with truth and solid credibility.
Alice and Joe fell in love with each other, and we fell in love with both of them.
The film’s first director was Fred Zinnemann, who was replaced by Vincent Minnelli, then-married to Ms. Garland, who insisted her husband be at the helm. Thus, her love off-screen transferred on-screen – and it shows.
Garland’s performance was earnest and real, as was Walker’s.
Minnelli (father of Liza, by the way) filters with finesse the words of this film, which features a screenplay by Robert Nathan and Joseph Schrank, based on a story by Paul Gallico and Pauline Gallico.
Minnelli, along with Zinnemann, establish the movie’s many moving moving-pictures and action from a basic and simple story of two lonely people who meet and marry over a two-day period.
There’s not a gun in sight, nor a measure of violence or vulgarity of any kind at any moment.
This was no blockbuster or epic story, but sweet and consistent.
The Clock was made with precision and high-regard for its audience, introducing each character as an integrated part of the story’s development.
The dialogue rings as true today, as when it was first heard in 1945. The feelings expressed by Alice and Joe are realistic and, as a result, the movie makes sense, and sets hearts afire.
Theirs and ours.
We care about these people, because they care about each other.
The caring is conveyed with wit and intelligence delivered by all those involved…the characters….the actors….the director(s)…and the entire production team.
A team effort, indeed, The Clock was always on time. This film hit its mark at every turn of the visual page, as should any cinematic transposition of any worthy script. And this script was more than worthy – it was genius.