Joe (Robert Walker) is a corporal in the army with a two day pass in New York City. Instead of doing what most of us would do with it, like blow all our money on hookers, Joe decides he’s going to hang out at Penn Station.
As played by Robert Walker, Joe is a small town goof who just can’t believe how big this here city is. He asks people in the station what he should do on a Sunday in New York. I knew this was fairy tale when people were fairly polite to him and no one stuck him in the ribs with a screwdriver.
Joe is sitting down reading the paper and Alice (Judy Garland) trips over him, losing a heel in the process. She goes on up the escalator, yelling after the soldier to get her heel. Being the shoe fetish guy he is, he doesn’t immediately tell her to get lost and retrieves the heel.
After they get her shoe taken care of, Alice says she needs to go home and Joe, showing that same perseverance that defeated Hitler, asks if he can ride along, just for awhile, what with him being a horny, lonely soldier and all and what with her being a gal with no common sense. She agrees and they ride the bus together.
They end up in Central Park watching seals eat some fish and the movie begins this running gag about how kids are mean to Joe, even though where he came from kids loved him. Trust me, this is one gag they should have run from, but it does allow the audience the vicarious thrill of kicking Joe in the shins.
Eventually, all first dates at the park watching seals eat smelly dead fish must end. Joe wants to see her again (either tonight or later tonight, what with that two day pass and all) and she’s playing hard to get.
He gives her his lighter and she catches the bus. Then he proves his stalker mettle by running after the bus and asking her to change her mind and to see him tonight. She agrees and shouts that they’ll meet under the clock at the Astor at 7:00.
Well our boy waits around, spying on other soldier/townie couples trying to get tips on how to get in her star-spangled drawers and decides that maybe a flower is the way to go. So he gives her this flower and she puts it in her hair, and it’s off for a night on the town.
They go to a fancy restaurant where Alice and Joe get into their first argument. (They’ve only got two days so everything is compressed – he has a midlife crisis scheduled for 3:30 a.m.)
Eventually, even Alice is bored by it all and remembering that she has a dead end job in the morning to go to, decides that they should go home. Of course it’s too late for the buses to run and this is where the milkman enters the scene.
Al the milkman is one of those lovable old guys who talks a mile a minute and is all too happy to help a pair of lovers out of a jam. The viewer would be all too happy if Al got salmonella.
He offers to give them a ride in his milk truck. After a drunk somehow manages to knock out the milkman Alice and Joe decide that it’s up to them to save Christmas and to make sure everyone gets their milk on time. What follows is a montage of how fun it is to deliver milk all over the city.
At the end of this fantastic date they manage to lose each other on the subway (well, he is from a small town and probably doesn’t realize that if she gets on and he doesn’t, they will get separated).
The movie then spends about six minutes trying to build up suspense as to whether they will locate one another again.
Two cops give Joe the bright idea to go back to a place that was special to them and maybe she’ll be there waiting. He goes back to the clock and doesn’t find her so he hangs out at Penn Station moping around until he finds her there trying to hook up with another soldier. (I thought that was you, Joe!)
They decide that they don’t ever want to be separated again without at least being married (have you two ever thought about exchanging names, addresses and phone numbers?) so they embark on a wild effort to get hitched before he gets shipped off to certain death in Europe.
A relatively dull affair with Robert Walker stinking up the joint with his stereotypical portrayal of the hick who is bewitched by the big city and by Judy Garland. She does look like a movie star in this film, so maybe you can excuse him on that account, but he’s got the personality of oatmeal and sits around talking about how he wants to be a carpenter and build houses after the war and how he wants to go back to little Cowpie, Indiana and do all sorts of hickish stuff like join a bowling league.
As for Alice, I don’t get and the movie never showed us what she sees in this guy that would cause her to get married to a dude she’s known all of two days. She was portrayed as a level headed gal concerned about getting to work on time and nothing happened that changed who she was in this movie.
The Clock plays on people’s notions of how romantic wartime must be and how love can conquer all. Here, love didn’t conquer much more than a milk route and some administrative hurdles that would have delayed their marriage from only two days after they met to five days after they met.
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