John Garfield’s last film–made in 1951, shortly before its talented and neglected director, John Berry, was driven into European exile by the Hollywood blacklist and Garfield himself died of a heart attack at 39 (many believe because of related pressures)–is a fitting and powerful testament to the actor’s poignancy and power as a working-class punk. (As critic Thom Andersen has noted, he is an “axiom,” especially in relation to the socially caustic noirs that proliferated in Hollywood just before many of the artists involved in them were hounded into silence by the HUAC.) Here Garfield plays a hoodlum in flight from a bungled robbery, falling for a young woman (Shelley Winters) and holding her family hostage as he oscillates wildly between mistrust and a desire to be part of this family circle. Combining an effective script (Guy Endore and Hugh Butler adapting a Sam Ross novel), superb cinematography by James Wong Howe, and a keen sense of working-class manners shared by Berry and Garfield, this is a highly affecting thriller that draws us relentlessly into its plangent moral tensions; with Wallace Ford, Selena Royale, Gladys George, and Norman Lloyd. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, February 26, 6:00 and 7:30, 443-3737)
This entry was posted on Friday, February 26th, 1993 at 12:00 am and is filed under Featured Texts. Follow the comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are closed, leave a trackback from your site.