|Genre: Classics, Drama|
Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy
Written By: John Lee Mahin, James Edward Grant
In Theaters: 18 Febr. 1942
On Disc/Streaming: 30 June 1993
Runtime: 107 minutes
Box office: $2,586,000
Robert Taylor as Johnny Eager
Lana Turner as Lisbeth Bard
Edward Arnold as John Benson Farrell
Van Heflin as Jeff Hartnett
Robert Sterling as Jimmy Courtney
Patricia Dane as Garnet
Glenda Farrell as Mae Blythe
Henry O’Neill as A.J. Verne
Diana Lewis as Judy Sanford
Barry Nelson as Lew Rankin
Charles Dingle as A. Frazier Marco
Paul Stewart as Julio
Cy Kendall as Bill Halligan
Don Costello as Billiken
Lou Lubin as Benjy
Joe Downing as Ryan
Connie Gilchrist as Peg Fowler
Robin Raymond as Matilda “Matty” Fowler
Leona Maricle as Miss Mines
Emory Parnell as Policeman
“Johnny Eager” is a 1941 film noir directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Robert Taylor, Lana Turner and Van Heflin.
Johnny Eager (Robert Taylor) masquerades as a taxi driver for his gullible parole officer, A. J. Verne (Henry O’Neill), but in reality, he is the ruthless head of a powerful gambling syndicate.
Verne introduces him to socialite Lisbeth “Liz” Bard (Lana Turner), a sociology student.
Johnny and Liz are attracted to each other, but then he discovers that she is the stepdaughter of his longtime nemesis, John Benson Farrell (Edward Arnold).
As a crusading prosecutor, Farrell was responsible for sending Johnny to prison, and now as the district attorney, he has gotten an injunction preventing Johnny’s expensive dog racing track from opening.
Johnny decides to use Liz as leverage against her stepfather.
When she comes to see him, he has Julio (Paul Stewart), one of his underlings, burst in and pretend to try to kill him.
During the faked struggle, Julio drops his gun. Lisbeth picks it up and shoots Julio when he seems to have the upper hand.
Johnny then hustles her out of the room before she can realize that the gun is full of blanks and Julio’s blood is actually ketchup.
Later, Johnny threatens to expose her as a murderer unless Farrell removes the injunction. Farrell gives in.
Johnny is depicted as a man without a conscience.
When childhood friend Lew Rankin (Barry Nelson) gets fed up with his subordinate role in the gang and starts plotting against him, Johnny murders him without the slightest qualm.
He lies to his devoted girlfriend Garnet (Patricia Dane) to get her to go to Florida while he romances Liz.
Mae (Glenda Farrell), a prior girlfriend, asks him to help get her incorruptible policeman husband transferred back to his old precinct because his long commute is straining their marriage.
Johnny not only lies, claiming he no longer has any influence, he also hides the fact that he got the man transferred in the first place because he would not look the other way.
When Jimmy Courtney (Robert Sterling), Liz’s high society former boyfriend, becomes alarmed because Liz is going to pieces due to a guilty conscience, he offers Johnny all his money to leave the country and take Liz with him.
Johnny cannot figure out his “angle”, why he would do such a selfless thing.
In fact, the only soft spot Johnny seems to have is for his intellectual, alcoholic right-hand man, Jeff Hartnett (Van Heflin), and even he is not sure why.
Jeff has an insight, telling his boss that “even Johnny Eager has to have one friend.”
However, when Johnny learns that Liz intends to turn herself in, he discovers the meaning of love for the first time in his life.
He confesses to her that he staged the whole incident, but she does not believe him.
To prove his claim, he decides to produce a live Julio, but Julio has defected to Johnny’s dissatisfied partner, Bill Halligan (Cy Kendall).
Johnny manages to bring Julio (at gunpoint) to Liz, but in the process, touches off a gunfight with Halligan and his men.
He kills Halligan and Julio, but is himself shot down by a policeman on his way home after his shift, who in a twist of fate turns out to be Mae’s husband.
Lana Turner plays Lisbeth Bard.
Robert Taylor and Lana Turner made one of the most striking couples ever to grace the screen. Although the obligatory man-woman skirmishes had less sexual tension to them that that produced by the Gable-Turner combination, Taylor and Turner nonetheless possessed a unique sort of chemistry that ignited every romance scene they shared.
When asked to name the sexiest woman in the world Norman Lear, producer, replied: “Lana Turner, as she was held in the arms of Robert Taylor on the terrace in “Johnny Eager.”
“Taylor ‘n Turner are T-N-T,” was the advertising tagline.
You can watch the film here:
Lana Turner did a lot of movies. She really loved being a moviestar.
Here are the most important films in which she starred. Just click the links for more info, photos and videos.
20 April 1937: A Star Is Born
9 Oct. 1937: They Won’t Forget
24 Oct. 1937: The Great Garrick
1 Jan. 1938: The Adventures of Marco Polo
22 July 1938: Love Finds Andy Hardy
12 Aug. 1938: Rich Man, Poor Girl
9 Dec. 1938: Dramatic School
28 April 1939: Calling Dr. Kildare
18 Aug. 1939: These Glamour Girls
29 Sept. 1939: Dancing Co-Ed
19 April 1940: Two Girls on Broadway
19 July 1940: We Who Are Young
25 April 1941: Ziegfeld Girl
12 Aug. 1941: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
2 Oct. 1941: Honky Tonk
18 Febr. 1942: Johnny Eager
27 Aug. 1942: Somewhere I’ll Find You
1 April 1943: Slightly Dangerous
19 Aug. 1943: Du Barry Was A Lady
13 Nov. 1943: The Youngest Profession
23 Aug. 1944: Marriage Is a Private Affair
8 March 1945: Keep Your Powder Dry
1 Oct. 1945: Week-End At The Waldorf
2 May 1946: The Postman Always Rings Twice
5 Nov. 1947 : Green Dolphin Street
1 Nov. 1947: Cass Timberlane
29 April 1948: Homecoming
20 Oct. 1948: The Three Musketeers
1 Sept. 1950: A Life Of Her Own
2 March 1951: Mr. Imperium
5 Sept. 1952: The Merry Widow
25 Dec. 1952: The Bad And The Beautiful
25 Aug. 1953: Latin Lovers
1 May 1954: Flame And The Flesh
7 Sept. 1954: Betrayed
13 May 1955: The Prodigal
4 June 1955: Sea Chase
14 Dec. 1955: The Rains Of Ranchipur
12 Jan. 1956: Diane
13 Dec. 1957: Peyton Place
30 Jan. 1958: The Lady Takes A Flyer
2 May 1958: Another Time, Another Place
30 April 1959: Imitation Of Life
23 June 1960: Portrait In Black
19 July 1961: By Love Possessed
2 Nov. 1961: Bachelor In Paradise
25 Dec. 1962: Who’s Got The Action?
24 Febr. 1965: Love Has Many Faces
27 April 1966: Madame X
30 April 1969: The Big Cube
7 Nov. 1974: Persecution
27 Oct. 1976: Bittersweet Love
31 Oct. 1980: Witches Brew
21 May 1982: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Lana’s biography “Lana, the Lady, The Legend, The Truth“, “The Films Of Lana Turner” by Lou Valentino and “Lana Turner, The Memories, The Myths and The Movies” by Cheryl Crane.