The Clock (UK title Under the Clock) is a 1945 American romantic drama film starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker and directed by Garland's future husband, Vincente Minnelli. This was Garland's first dramatic role, as well as her first starring vehicle in which she did not sing.
A soldier, Joe Allen (Robert Walker), on a 48-hour leave, meets Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) in Pennsylvania Station when she trips over his foot and breaks the heel off one of her shoes.
Although it is after hours, Joe gets a shoe-repair shop owner to open his store, and the proprietor repairs her shoe. Alice asks Joe where he is going, and he says he is on leave but has no definite destination while in New York. He asks to accompany her on her way home and she points out landmarks along the way, including Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
When he asks her whether she is busy that evening, she says that she is. However, when he persists, chasing the bus she is riding down the street, she relents, promising to meet him under the clock at the Astor Hotel.
Although her roommate chastises Alice for "picking up" a soldier, Alice keeps her date with Joe, arriving late, and the two have dinner. Having missed the last bus home, they accept a ride with a milk man. When the milkman's truck has a flat tire, he and his passengers visit a lunch room to call for assistance. A drunk strikes the milk man, blackening his eye, and after the company's road repairman has changed the truck's tire, Alice and Joe spend the night delivering milk to their benefactor's customers. Later, they enjoy the hospitality of the milkman and his wife, who serves them an early-morning dinner.
After they become separated in a subway crowd, they try frantically to find one another, not even knowing each other's last name. They finally reunite by returning to the place at which they met for the first time, the escalator at Penn Station. Having fallen in love, Joe asks Alice to marry him before his departure the next day, and she consents. However, they must run a maze of red tape which nearly prevents them from doing so. Through their perseverance, they win over bureaucrats upon whom their success or failure depends. However, Alice finds the hurried ceremony "ugly" and it is only after they repeat their vows alone in a church pew that she feels truly married. Shortly after the young couple weds, Joe's leave ends and he returns to war.
Garland had asked to star in a straight dramatic role after growing tired of the strenuous schedules of musical films. Although the studio was hesitant, the producer, Arthur Freed, eventually approached Garland with the script for The Clock after buying the rights to the short unpublished story by Paula and Paul Gallico.
Fred Zinnemann was initially hired to direct the picture. After about a month, he was removed at the request of Garland as there was a lack of chemistry between the two and early footage was disappointing. When Freed asked who Garland wanted to direct the film, she answered, "Vincente Minnelli". Minnelli had just directed Garland the previous year in, which was a tremendous success. Moreover, she and Minnelli had become romantically involved during the principal photography of Meet Me In St. Louis. During production of The Clock, they rekindled their romance, and were engaged by the end of shooting. Minnelli discarded footage shot by Zinnemann and reshaped the film. He revised some scenes, tightened up the script, and incorporated New York City into the film's setting as a third character. As with Meet Me in St. Louis, he supervised adjustments to Garland's costumes, make-up, and hair.
Both producer Arthur Freed and Roger Edens have a cameo in this film. Near the beginning, Freed lights Walker's cigarette and then gives him the lighter. Edens, a music arranger and close friend to Garland, plays piano in a restaurant. Screenwriter Robert Nathan appears uncredited smoking a pipe.