JOHNNY EAGER (1942) B/W 108m dir: Mervyn LeRoy
w/Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Van Heflin, Edward Arnold, Robert Sterling, Patricia Dane, Glenda Farrell, Barry Nelson, Henry O'Neill, Charles Dingle
Top-rate gangster melodrama about a good-looking, egotistical hood.
From The Movie Guide: "Here's a glossy world of crime wrapped in white fox and expensive leather where one sinks into deep armchairs and drinks imported Scotch. This is the crooked cafe society world of callow, sexy Taylor who abuses callow, sexy Turner. They're made for each other, see? Each acts in a highly stylized mode of tragic glamour that is most evident in the swooning vortex of their love scenes. Casting them together was inspired --- they give each other extra resonance and depth. ...
"JOHNNY EAGER is a lavish candy box film in which Taylor wholly abandons his male ingenue image and becomes a believable bad guy whose sliver of human compassion causes his undoing; its [sic] one of his best early roles. Although there's a synthetic element to JOHNNY EAGER, the crime melodrama aspect is so well handled by LeRoy and the chemistry between Taylor and the luscious 21-year-old Turner so strong that it's wholly satisfying. Taylor and Turner made only this film together and more's the pity. Their penthouse balcony scene is definitive Hollywood passion, all glossy open lips, eye lash shadows and whispered urgency --- the latter a Turner specialty.
"Throughout, Heflin is the presence that gives depth to the film as the drunken conscience of cold-hearted Taylor. The homoerotic content of the film is unusual for staid MGM. Heflin acts like Taylor's domesticated, kept house pet and he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his effort."