John Garfield as Harry Morgan, cynical charter fishing boat captain and Navy veteran
Newport Beach, California and Ensenada, Mexico, Spring to Summer 1950
Film: The Breaking Point
Release Date: September 30, 1950
Director: Michael Curtiz
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
One of the most intense and talented actors of his generation, John Garfield was born 110 years ago today on March 4, 1913 in New York’s Lower East Side. His birth name was Julius Garfinkle, with Julius added as a middle name that resulted in his nickname “Julie” among friends and family.
Garfield delivered many excellent performances during his too-brief life and career, eventually citing his personal favorite to be in his penultimate film The Breaking Point, a more faithful retelling of Ernest Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not than the popular and stylish 1944 adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Lushly photographed and set against the docks of Newport Beach, The Breaking Point stars Garfield as self-described “boat jockey” Harry Morgan, a World War II veteran who makes a living for his supportive wife and daughter by chartering his fishing boat, Sea Queen, that ferries passengers back and forth from Mexico. Continue reading
John Garfield as Nick Robey, desperate small-time thief
Los Angeles, Summer 1951
Film: He Ran All the Way
Release Date: June 19, 1951
Director: John Berry
Wardrobe Credit: Joe King
John Garfield, one of the most talented and naturalistic actors of Hollywood’s “golden age”, died 70 years ago today on May 21, 1952. Garfield had long been troubled with heart health issues, but it’s been argued that the resulting stress brought on by harassment from the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee contributed to his early death at the age of 39, nearly a year after the release of his final film, He Ran All the Way (1951).
John Garfield as Frank Chambers, restless drifter-turned-diner worker
Laguna Beach, California, Summer 1945
Film: The Postman Always Rings Twice
Release Date: May 2, 1946
Director: Tay Garnett
Costume Supervisor: Irene
As #Noirvember continues, let’s step away from the trench coats and fedoras to see how our hardboiled anti-heroes dress for a day at the beach. An ode to deviance that originated from James M. Cain’s 1934 novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice was adapted twice by European filmmakers before Hollywood dared to tackle it during the golden age of noir in the 1940s.
The lascivious source material had presented a challenge for presenting the story in a way that would satisfy the draconian Motion Picture Production Code and, even before it was published, a synopsis of Cain’s story had been deemed “definitely unsuitable for motion picture production” by the pearl-clutching Hays Office. After the two European adaptations were released, MGM was finally ready to proceed with its own version, inspired by the success of Double Indemnity, another piece from Cain’s poison pen centered around adultery and murder. By this time, nearly a dozen years into the rigid enforcement years of the Production Code, American filmmakers had mastered the art of stylized shadows and suggestive innuendo that allowed—and often enhanced—these films noir set in lurid worlds filled with unscrupulous and unsavory elements.
“It was on a side road outside of Los Angeles,” Frank Chambers begins his story, as the down-on-his-luck hitchhiker stumbles into the Twin Oaks diner boasting a $1.25 “best in the world” chicken dinner. The simple sign, “Man wanted,” echoes both the restaurant’s staffing needs as well as the sensuous needs of Cora (Lana Turner), the ambitious young platinum blonde who runs the roadside lunch room with her proud yet oblivious husband Nick (Cecil Kellaway)… and, even if you haven’t read or seen it, you probably already see where this is going.