Lawson Art Deco Clocks in the Movies

Lawson Art Deco clocks were made at three locations, all close to Hollywood. So why aren’t these stylish timepieces seen in the movies? Turns out, they are.

The Black Cat (May 3, 1934)  Not very similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s story, Universal’s The Black Cat combined both Karloff and Lugosi with Art Deco plus a dash of necrophilia. This was a winning combination and The Black Cat was Universal’s top grosser for 1934. I find it a yawn, but without question the Art Deco sets are fabulous. Briefly, Bella Lugosi comes looking for his wife, who he believes to be living in a big Art Deco house with Boris Karloff. Unfortunately, Bella’s only half-right. His wife is indeed hanging around the house but…you’ll never guess…she’s not alive. All is not lost however, as Karloff has kept the young lady in remarkably good, “showroom” condition.

Lawson-movies (8 of 17)

The Black Cat (1934).

Lawson-movies (5 of 17)

The house is nice enough, but the landscaping needs work. Most of The Black Cat takes place in the house.

I almost forgot about the clock. This is, I believe, the first on-screen appearance of a Lawson clock. If you look closely, you’ll see the numerals are in the style drawn by inventor Frederick Greenawalt for his patent. Very early Pennwood clocks used this “font” for the numbers but I had not seen them on a Lawson until an unusual model 14 showed up (see below.) This clock is unique in a number of ways and I’ll do a separate post for those who care about such things. What’s interesting here is that it establishes Lawson Clocks Limited was in business in early 1934.

Lawson-movies (9 of 17)

Getting ready for a good night’s rest, David Manners unpacks in The Black Cat (1934).

Lawson-movies (10 of 17)

What’s that on the nightstand?

Lawson 148984- 0914-60070

Lawson Model 14




He Walked By Night (November 24, 1948)  Thanksgiving 1948 got off to a happy and wholesome start with the release of He Walked By Night, a very dark, late film noir starring Richard Basehart. While Basehart is completely convincing as a psychopath, he has to share the limelight with the Los Angeles storm drain system which he uses to escape from his crime scenes. He Walked By Night has it all–senseless killing, voiceovers by Reed Hadley, the ever-reliable Whit Bissell and the head of the crime lab at police headquarters is none other than Jack Webb.

Lawson-movies (13 of 17)

He Walked By Night (1948). Jack Webb explains the mischief you can get into with a little nitro.

In this scene, a trap has been set for Roy (Basehart). Roy’s told Paul Reeves (Bissell) to have some cash ready, and to expect him around 8pm. Whit Bissell nervously checks the time on his trusty Lawson 73. Curiously, this a a pre-war, 1930s clock in a post-war movie.

Lawson-movies (12 of 17)

Whit Bissell checks the time on his Lawson (He Walked By Night, 1948)

Lawson-movies (11 of 17)

You’ll need to be quick to spot it but that’s a Lawson 73.

Lawson-movies (16 of 17)

Lawson model 73





What about TV? Check out the M Squad episode, Model In The Lake (May 15, 1959).  That’s actress Barbara Darrow, who’s resume included 1956’s The Mountain, a great movie with Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner and some lesser efforts like The Monster That Challenged The World and Queen Of Outer Space. Ms. Darrow’s character is about to meet an untimely end, but not before we get a good look at a Lawson “Southerner” model 215.

Lawson-movies (4 of 17)

I thought there was a Lawson clock here, somewhere…Barbara Darrow models a swimsuit (M Squad 1959).

Lawson-movies (3 of 17)

Lawson “Southerner”

Lawson-movies (17 of 17)

A Lawson Southerner from the late ’40s or early ’50s.





Star Trek Into Darkness (stardate 5.16.2013)  I’ve already done a post on this recent Lawson sighting of a Lawson Zephyr. This clock, which was NOT DESIGNED BY KEM WEBER (except on eBay) must have been one of Lawson’s most popular. Although an older Zephyr was used in Star Trek, these clocks were made both before and after World War II.

Lawson-movies (1 of 17)

An early scene from Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

I’m sure there have been other Lawson appearences.  Let me know.


This entry was posted in Art Deco Architecture, Lawson Clocks and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lawson Art Deco Clocks in the Movies

  1. Dana Slawson says:

    “The Artist” (2011)
    After George Valentin’s (Jean Dujardin) last silent movie venture fails, he finds himself destitute and forced to auction off his possessions. A pan of a table in the auction hall reveals a Lawson Model 208 among those possessions.

Leave a Reply to Dana Slawson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *