Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Johnny Eager: Robert Taylor's Filmic Redemption
Robert Taylor specifically asked to play the cold-blooded hood in the title role, since he was very impressed by the script, based on a short story by James Edward Grant and John Lee Mahin’s screenplay. Van Heflin plays Johnny’s only real friend, an alcoholic writer who spouts philosophical ramblings, comparing Lisbeth with Cyrano de Bergerac’s Roxane. Although Van Heflin won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his poignant performance as Jeff Hartnett, a tormented drunkard who has established a suspiciously intimate bond with Johnny, Robert Taylor’s biographer Charles Tranberg contends ‘this is Taylor’s picture.’
On December 8, 1941 United States declared war upon Japan in response to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. 'Johnny Eager' was released in theatres on 9 December 1941. As Charles Tranberg remarks in his biography, Robert Taylor made a contribution to the war effort by donating his monoplane, which was given to the Los Angeles Sheriffs Air Squadron in 1942. The war accelerated the longstanding trend in social stigma of illicit romances, they were nonetheless validated on-screen.
Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Johnny Eager’: Robert Taylor’s Filmic Redemption on Blogcritics