Merriam-Webster defines meet-cute as “a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners (as in a movie).” I first heard the late Roger Ebert use the term in various reviews of romantic comedies, sometimes facetiously, since it’s one of the oldest tropes in Hollywood’s arsenal.
There’s certainly no shortage of examples - both good and bad - but in 1945’s The Clock, the entire story is practically a meet-cute.
Robert Walker is Joe Allen, a bumpkin soldier on leave for two days in New York. After arriving at the train station, he has a chance encounter with Alice (Judy Garland) by retrieving the broken heel to her shoe. Unfamiliar with the city, he asks for tips on where to go, then invites her to come along. Though initially reluctant, Alice agrees. A simple bus ride turns into a trip to the zoo, then a museum, then a bonafide date (to the chagrin of Alice’s roommate, who warns her about “picking up” a soldier).
|"I don't get it."|
To call The Clock narratively slight would be an understatement. Anything resembling real conflict is minimal and fleeting, the only suspense being whether or not they can get their blood tests done on time. However, Joe and Alice are pretty likable (if not particularly dynamic), with Walker and Garland giving suitably congenial performances, so we kind of enjoy their company.
It’s a textbook example of the meet-cute, and other than being one of the few films in which Garland isn’t required to sing, The Clock doesn’t hold any real surprises. But while it’s never been mistaken for a cinematic milestone, fans of old fashioned romantic drama will have no complaints.
SHORT: “HOLLYWOOD SCOUT” - An amusing look at animal “auditions,” with Pete Smith’s reliably-cornball narration.
CARTOON SHORT: “THE SCREWY TRUANT” - Seeing Screwy Squirrel cartoons always reminds me of how much I hate Screwy Squirrel.
RADIO SHOW ADAPTATION - Featuring Judy Garland and John Hodiak.