Johnny Eager, 1942, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday November 9 at midnight and on Sunday, November 10 at 10 a.m. November 9 is not closed captioned. November 10 captioned. This is one of Mr. Taylor’s best. Don’t miss it.
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Edward Arnold, Van Heflin, Robert Sterling, Patricia Dane, Glenda Farrell, Barry Nelson. Slick MGM melodrama with convoluted plot about sociology student (and daughter of D.A. Arnold) Turner falling in love with unscrupulous racketeer Taylor. Heflin won Best Supporting Actor Oscar as Taylor’s alcoholic friend.(TCM)
Having only been familiar with Robert Taylor’s body of forgettable [humpf!] work from the thirties (The Broadway Melodies, Camille, etc), seeing him in the title role of Johnny Eager was stunning. Tom Hanks’s 180 degree turn from silly comedies to Philadelphia might be a modern day equivalent. Taylor steps into a role that would seem tailor made for Bogart, Cagney or Robinson, and does an arguably better job than any of them could have. Yes, Lana Turner is present, and yes, Van Heflin won a supporting Oscar, but Taylor owns this film.
Johnny Eager is one of the best films of the 40s, as well as one of the all time greats.
(Taken from a review by Justin Behnke on the IMDB).
Some behind the scenes photos:
Left to right: Robert Taylor and Meryn LeRoy; Mr. Taylor and Lana Turner; filming
Left to right: Mr. Taylor and Director LeRoy; Mr. LeRoy directs Mr. Taylor and Ms. Turner; Mr. Taylor and Mr. LeRoy go over the script.
I really enjoyed Robert Taylor in this movie. I thought the chemistry between him and Lana Turner was quite something. After reading his bio books and researching his affair with Lana Turner I watched the movie again. Then I did more research. Lana Turner’s daughter wrote that when they made the movie, her mother and Robert Taylor were very attracted to one another and he wanted to leave his wife Barbara Stanwyck for Lana but she didn’t want to marry him so she broke off the affair. I found that difficult to believe. I read from a number of sources that Barbara Stanwyck cut her wrist when Robert Taylor told her he wanted a divorce to marry Lana Turner. I think they had a very serious affair and Lana was willing to go along with him leaving his wife. I feel that when Barabara Stanwyck cut her wrist even though it was written up that she by accident pushed her hand through a window at her home trying to open it. I believe that Robert Taylor upon seeing how upset and desperate she was over his unfaithfulness felt very guilty and he made the decision to end the affair with Lana Turner.
Linda, Mr. Taylor and Ms. Stanwyck had a sort of arranged marriage-arranged by MGM. She took it much more seriously than he did. He did have affairs, including one with Ava Gardner. I think he truly cared for Ms. Stanwyck but he did have a roving eye until Ursula Thiess took him in hand. He asked for the divorce in Italy while working on “Quo Vadis.” She agreed and then regretted it. Ms. Stanwyck never remarried. She also took 15% of his income until he died. Judithj
Yes I am aware of all this. I know he was known to have affairs while on set making a movie. I do believe that when they were first asked to marry by the studio because they had been living together and Sheila Graham had written an article about the number of unmarried actor couples living together. i think at that time he really was in love with her and I am certain she loved him. She was already famous and he being a shy person needed her guidance. But as his fame grew and he matured I think the controlling and critical side of her personality became to much for him. There is a scene in the first movie they did together, where she says to him, “I will love you until the day I die.” When she said that line I felt she really meant it with all her heart. Regards, Linda Doty
Hi, Linda. I didn’t know that Sheila Graham was the author of that article. She and Mr. Taylor were supposedly lovers at one time. I think you’re totally correct that Ms. Stanwyck’s controlling nature eventually became too confining for Mr. Taylor. Ms. Thiess never interfered with his professional life. She did, however, come with him on location to keep his eyes from straying. Mr. Taylor and Ms. Stanwyck stayed friends until his death despite his resentment of having to give her 15% of his income. Judith
Hi Judith: Yes Sheila Graham wrote the article and as you know they were supposed lovers at one time and a friend of Sheila Graham told her daughter after Sheila Graham died that Robert Taylor was the father of Sheila Graham’s son. I looked a bit into this and even though he looks a lot like Robert Taylor when he was young. He was born when Robert Taylor was in the Navy. And it just seems like during that time Robert Taylor was so busy flying planes and being a flight instructor, I can’t see how he would have had time to have had an affair with her. His second wife was a smart lady, going on location with him. Regards, Linda Doty
I agree, Linda. I don’t believe the Graham son story. The poor guy apparently really doesn’t know who his father was. At one point he said it was Robert Taylor or someone else, whose name I don’t remember. Ursula was a smart cookie. She always put him first and made him a very happy man. Judith