Time: 107 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Heflin).
SYNOPSIS: Johnny Eager a rough-tough guy, drives a taxi for the benefit of the parole board while directing his underworld activities of slot machines, protection and the opening of a dog track. Debutante Liz Bard meets him at the parole office, and falls in love with the intriguing supposedly ex-convict. After discovering his gangster activities, she keeps his secret, but becomes the victim of his dirty schemes in his efforts to gain control of her stepfather, the town's crusading prosecutor.
BOTTOM LINE: Mostly known for playing pretty boys, Taylor slightly expands his repetoire in this flick by playing a gorgeous, bad boy gangster. The fact that he's easy on the eyes relegated him to playing many lackluster boyfriend roles, but here, his looks are a necessary feature. How else could a low life criminal get an uptight dame to even look at him, nevermind seek him out? Lana Turner's not exactly believable as a good girl, which is why her character turns out to be more interesting than she should be.
The story is more complex and intriguing than it first appears with many unexpected twists and turns that will leave you wondering if Johnny is really as bad as he seems. Taylor's casting only adds to the ambiguity. Both he and Turner make the most of a good script with well-developed characters to give better than their usual performances. Van Heflin is wickedly funny and heartbreaking as Johnny's eternally drunk secondhand man, who helps almost as much as he hinders. Without him this picture wouldn't be half as entertaining. At its' core JOHNNY EAGER is just another gangster pic, but it's surprisingly one of the best of its' genre gritty, sordid and downright irresistible.