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Johnny Eager (1941)

The step-daughter of a district attorney falls in love with a gangster on parole who her father originally imprisoned.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screen play), James Edward Grant (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 ... Marco
Paul Stewart ... Julio
Cy Kendall ... Halligan
Don Costello ... Billiken
Lou Lubin ... Benjy
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Storyline

Ruthless hood Johnny Eager is pretending to his parole officer that he has chucked the rackets and is working as a taxi driver. In fact, he's as deep into crime as he ever was and desperately needs official permission to open his new dog racing track. When he meets up with Lisbeth Bard, the step-daughter of the district attorney, he finds she is not only stunning but a possible way to get his permit. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's Taylor-made for her! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Johnny Eager See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$651,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Van Heflin's Oscar winning performance is his only Academy Award nomination. See more »

Goofs

When Johnny is approaching the Fifty-First Ward Social Club right before the gun battle, his tie and shirt can be seen over his scarf. But on the following shot, his tie and shirt are now covered by his scarf. See more »

Quotes

Johnny Eager: When you've been where I've been you can never get enough company.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Melancholy
(1911) (uncredited)
(Also known as "Melancholy Baby" and "My Melancholy Baby")
Music by Ernie Burnett
Played during the opening and closing credits
Played as dance music by the band at Tony Luce's place
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Eager's good look goes beyond its stars.
25 November 2009 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Robert Taylor doesn't ace every scene but he gives a more than credible performance as Johnny Eager, an inventive pragmatic and violent when called for gangster trying to open a legit dog track from behind the scenes. In order to avoid being a parole violator Eager pretends to drive a cab while he masterminds the track deal paying off cops and officials to smooth things. Some officials can't be bought however and a judge (Edward Arnold) with a deep seeded resentment of Eager whom he refers to as "Thief" and humiliates blocks his license. The coldly practical Eager circumvents the problem by compromising the judge's daughter (Lana Turner) but loses his balance on the tightrope he's walking when he falls hard for her dame.

Eager has a crisper look than most noirs and director Mervyn LeRoy deftly handles the storyline and avoids run of the mill by injecting minor but telling incidentals that indicate Johnny's slow transformation. Suspense scenes are well edited and mise en scene is busy and filled with pertinent detail.

While Bogart might seem an apt choice to play Eager I doubt he could have played it with the same nervous authoritative energy or insecurity Taylor does here. Most of all he lacks Taylor's good looks which are crucial to romancing Lana Turner. The glamorous Ms. Turner is at first a little hard to believe as a student studying social work but she does acquit herself well in some powerfully dramatic scenes with Taylor. Paul Stewart, Glenda Farrell and Edward Arnold chip in fine supporting performances while Van Heflin delivers a magnificent one. Heflin as Eager's alcoholic sidekick and pickled conscience is not only effectively moving but also lends a droll sense of wit to the film with his sardonic observations.


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