Johnny Eager

Johnny Eager

Director: Mervyn LeRoy

Cast: Mervyn LeRoy, Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Edward Arnold

     
 
Robert Taylor toughened up his image considerably with this gangster movie, which was unusual both in its plot and origins, having come from MGM, which was generally not known for its crime movies. Taylor plays a parolee who is pretending to follow the straight-and-narrow as a hardworking cabbie, but is really the mastermind behind a dog-racing track being built with

Overview

Robert Taylor toughened up his image considerably with this gangster movie, which was unusual both in its plot and origins, having come from MGM, which was generally not known for its crime movies. Taylor plays a parolee who is pretending to follow the straight-and-narrow as a hardworking cabbie, but is really the mastermind behind a dog-racing track being built with mob money. Eager works every angle, has a gang that's generally in line, and also has a loyal right-hand man in Jeff Hartnett (Van Heflin, who won an Oscar), his educated assistant, who drinks too much and waxes poetic when he isn't looking after Johnny's interests (and sometimes when he is, too). Eager has only one problem, special prosecutor John Benson Farrell (Edward Arnold) -- who was also the attorney instrumental in sending Eager up -- who has gotten an injunction against the track's opening. But the hood sees an opening when he accidentally crosses paths with a young sociology student, Lisbeth Bard (Lana Turner), who is drawn to him romantically, and then finds out that she's Farrell's step-daughter. After romancing her for a few months, he sets her up in a scam, making her believe that she killed one of Eager's men (Paul Stewart). He "generously" gets her away from the scene and then informs Farrell of what has happened, pointing out that he holds the evidence against Lisbeth. Farrell has no choice but to withdraw the injunction, and the track opens, but problems ensue when rival mobsters decide to try and cut in on Eager and his racket, and he finds out that Lisbeth is so guilt-ridden over her "crime," that she's destroying herself mentally. Eager can't figure out why she feels the way she does or what to do about it, or even if he should do anything to help her, but with Jeff's help, he discovers a nobler side to his nature. Realizing that she really does love him, and knowing it's not possible for the two of them to be together, he goes out in a blaze of glory -- laced with a special irony built into the plot -- solving Lisbeth's problem and also curing her of her love for him, and settling a score or two in the process.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
Often mentioned as one of the earliest attempts at film noir, Johnny Eager is really too pretty to count, what with Robert Taylor and Lana Turner both constantly positioning themselves to get the better key lights. Van Heflin, as Taylor's alcoholic lawyer friend, easily takes the acting honors and would quite deservedly win a best supporting actor Academy Award, but both Taylor and Turner are actually surprisingly potent and a solid corps of supporting players add color to the sometimes overly melodramatic proceedings. Mervyn LeRoy, who used to be grittier at Warner Bros., directs with his usual professionalism and the production benefits from the accustomed MGM care.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/05/2009
UPC:
0883316164563
Original Release:
1941
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:47:00
Sales rank:
5,809

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Taylor Johnny Eager
Lana Turner Lisbeth Bard
Edward Arnold John Benson Farrell
Van Heflin Jeff Hartnett
Robert Sterling Jimmy Courtney
Patricia Dane Garnet
Glenda Farrell Mae Blythe
Henry O'Neill Mr. Verne
Diana Lewis Judy Sanford
Barry Nelson Lew Rankin
Charles Dingle A. Frazier Marco
Paul Stewart Julio
Don Costello Billiken
Lou Lubin Benjy
Connie Gilchrist Peg Fowler
Robin Raymond Matilda Fowler
Leona Maricle Miss Mines
Byron Shores Policeman
Hooper Atchley Actor
Arthur Belasco Actor
Gladys Blake Actor
Joyce Bryant Woman
Jack Carr Cupid
Georgia Cooper Wife
John Dilson Pawnbroker
Mike Pat Donovan Switchman
Edward Earle Actor
Harrison Greene Actor
Alice Keating Maid
Richard Kipling Husband
Art Miles Lt. Allen
James C. Morton Card Player
Emory Parnell Traffic Cop
Alex Pollard Butler
Alonzo Price Actor
Stanley Price Man
Janet Shaw Girls in Verne's Office
Elliott Sullivan Ed
Beryl Wallace Mabel
Anthony Warde Guard
Pat West Hanger-on
Joe Whitehead Ruffing
Douglass Newland Cop
Gohr VanVleck Frenchman
Charles Thomas Bus Conductor
Cliff Danielson Floyd Markham
Cy Kendall Bill Halligan
Nestor Paiva Tony
Joe Downing Ryan

Technical Credits
Mervyn LeRoy Director
Albert Akst Editor
John W. Considine Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
James Edward Grant Screenwriter
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Bronislau Kaper Score Composer
John Lee Mahin Screenwriter
Stanley Rogers Art Director
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

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