Johnny O’Clock – The 1947 Film
In most countries around the world, gambling has become an essential part of society, bringing in major revenue for the state and country. For thousands of years, gambling has been a part of who we are. The desire to win money has always been with us and always will. The role of casinos both legal and illegal has shaped the modern world and found its way into our culture and heritage. This is especially true when it comes to films. There are countless films that feature gambling in some way or another. One of the classic films that featured a casino and gambling was the popular Johnny O’Clock film.
The Director and the Cast
Released in 1947, the film starred Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, and Lee J. Cobb. Dick Powell who played the main character was a rising star in the 1930’s and who went on to become a film and TV director. Johnny O’Clock was based on the original story written by Milton Holmes. The film was directed by the Robert Rossen who already had a successful run of films behind his name. The film was given a budget of more than 1 Million dollars to complete and filming began in July of 1946.
The Main Characters
Johnny O’Clock has been described as a crime drama with heavy romantic elements. The film centres around the main character Johnny (played by Dick Powell). Johnny is a junior partner in an upscale casino in New York along with Guido Marchettis (played by Thomas Gomez). The main female lead in the film is Guido’s wife Nelle (Played by Ellen Drew). Unbeknownst to her husband, Nelle is still in love with her ex-boyfriend Johnny which sets the stage for the films main drama aspect.
The Drama Aspect
The romantic drama begins early on in Johnny O’Clock when Nelle gives Johnny an expensive custom pocket watch. The watch is the exact same type of watch she gave her husband on his birthday, except the one she gave Johnny contains a romantic engraving on the back. Johnny decided to give the watch back along with a rejection letter. He gives the letter to a hat-check girl at the casino to deliver to Nelle. Before the watch can be handed back, the girl apparently commits suicide.
The Plot Thickens
When the news of the girl’s death breaks, her sister Nancy shows up to find out what happened. She immediately becomes attracted to Johnny (Johnny O’Clock). Nancy eventually finds out from the police that her sister was actually poisoned. While he tries his best to resist, Johnny starts to fall for Nancy. When both pocket watches are show to Guido, Johnny decides to end his relationship with Nancy and takes her to the airport. She refuses to leave him as his is involved in a drive by shooting.
Johnny (Johnny O’Clock) eventually decided to flee to America with Nancy. He returns to the casino to cash out his share of the casino. While he is there, Guido pulls a gun on him and they shoot it out. Guido is killed and Johnny is wounded. Nelle offers to testify for Johnny if he decided to go back to her. He turns her down and she tells the police he murdered Guido.