"TNT - Taylor 'n Turner - Together They're Terrific!" So went the ad campaign for MGM's Johnny Eager (1942). And indeed they were. Robert Taylor and Lana Turner, two of the most beautiful faces ever to appear onscreen, were dynamite in their one and only film together.
Their steamy onscreen chemistry carried over to real life, as the married Taylor fell hard for the sexy 21-year old blonde bombshell. In her autobiography, Turner admits to a romance, but not an affair. She says she "flirted," but she didn't want to be responsible for breaking up Taylor's marriage to Barbara Stanwyck. Taylor, however, told his wife that he was in love with Turner and asked for a divorce. Turner says she then cooled the flirtation, and Taylor stayed married. Whatever the truth, the attraction between the two stars only helped the film.
Taylor and Heflin recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 21 Jan 1946. Susan Peters portrayed "Lisbeth" in the radio production, and Cy Kendall, who portrayed "Bill Halligan" in the film, portrayed "Marco." In an article in Saturday Evening Post entitled "The Role I Liked Best," Heflin cited Johnny Eager as his favorite performance.
As for exorcising Robert Taylor's glamour-boy image once and for all...well, as Wanda Hale gushed in the New York Daily News, "Taylor makes as handsome a gangster as you'd find if you'd go through the underworld with a fine-tooth comb." Still, glamour or not, Taylor's performance Johnny Eager is one of his best.