GregoryPeckfan

John Garfield: Film Noir, War , and Hollywood Canteen

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JOHN GARFIELD: DEAD BEFORE HE COULD REACH 40, THE AGE HE BELIEVED ACTORS BECAME GREAT ACTORS.

 

John Garfield was a major movie star during the studio system era.  He was an activist and campaigned for a role in Gentleman's Agreement opposite Gregory Peck about anti-Semitism. He won the role.

 

Garfield was himself Jewish.

 

Garfield was ready to join the fight in WWII and showed up only to fail the medical - 4F - like a lot of Hollywood stars did - because of heart problems.

 

But Garfield wanted to contribute to the war effort as best he could and joined Bette Davis in starting Hollywood Canteen - a place where military personnel of any branch could  stop  off each night and be entertained by the most famous actors, actresses, dancers, singers and comedians every night.

 

He and Bette Davis later played themselves in the movie version Hollywood Canteen.

 

 

edit: Tom has pointed out that it was Bette Davis who was the actress behind Hollywood Canteen.

 

No problem.  Everyone wanted to help out. :)

 

His signature movie is The Postman always Rings Twice.

 

But other favourites of mine   - I mean my top 5:

 

Between Two Worlds

Destination Tokyo

They made Me a Criminal

The Sea Wolf

 

I've seen 17 of his films so far.

 

Considering he died at 39 - he made a lot of films.

 

The only film I tried to watch and could not get through was Dust Be My Destiny.  Maybe it was a bad day for me.

 

Maybe I just don't like this film.

 

I'll have to try it out again.

Edited by ColumboFan
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John Garfield had a unique screen persona;  he could be laid back and sleepy eyed like Mitchum but explosive and full of energy like Cagney.

 

My favorite Garfield films are:

 

The Sea Wolf

Out of the Fog

Postman Always Rings Twice

Nobody Lives Forever

Body and Soul

Force of Evil

The Breaking Point

He Ran All the Way

 

I also enjoy Humoresque but mainly for the Joan as bitter women performance.

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b3ecc12479a88b3060dc4ff39c6fa42d.jpg

 

Bette Davis and John Garfield, the two driving forces behind Hollywood Canteen. I believe you may have become a little mixed up on the movie queen involved in your otherwise fine Garfield tribute, ColumboFan.

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John Garfield was, for me anyway, the closest a classic studio era actor got to the style of the later film actors, especially those of the "New American Cinema" of the 1970's. His NY background and his blue collar looks stand in stark contrast to the Robert Taylors, Tyrone Powers, and Gary Coopers of the time. He also brought a real sense of menace to the screen that was only rarely exploited to full effect. For all the greatness of Cagney and Robinson, I could always tell that they were at heart a hoofer and an art collector, respectively. Garfield seemed like someone they just pulled from central booking and put in front of a camera. And at the same time he had an air of vulnerability that shown through enough to grab the romantics in the audience, as well. His early death was one of the great tragedies in Hollywood history, in my opinion, as I can only imagine the great performances he still had left in him. Brando is among my favorite actors, and I thought he was brilliant in the role, but I wonder what Garfield would have been like in The Godfather. He would have been 58 or 59 when it was filmed, and I can see him being magnificent in the part of Vito Corleone. But we only have what he left us with, and there are more than a couple of true classics in the bunch.

 

I have seen 16 of his 33 films. Here are the ones I've seen, in order of my preference, based on his performance and not on the film overall.

 

Body and Soul

Force of Evil

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Four Daughters

Air Force

The Sea Wolf

Gentleman's Agreement

Tortilla Flat

Juarez

They Made Me a Criminal

Destination Tokyo

Jigsaw

We were Strangers

Daisy Kenyon

Hollywood Canteen

Thank Your Lucky Stars

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b3ecc12479a88b3060dc4ff39c6fa42d.jpg

 

Bette Davis and John Garfield, the two driving forces behind Hollywood Canteen. I believe you may have become a little mixed up on the movie queen involved in your otherwise fine Garfield tribute, ColumboFan.

Bette Davis?  Yes I did.

 

What I should have said that in movie version It was Katherine Hebpurn... I'll make an editorial comment at the bottom of my first post.

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Here are the John Garfield Movies I have seen:

 

He Ran All The Way

The Breaking Point

Force of Evil

Gentleman's Agreement - seen several times for Greg and hard to watch, but wonderful

Humoresque - need to see this again as it has been years

The Postman always Rings Twice

Pride of the Marines

Hollywood Canteen 

Between Two Worlds - beautiful look at people on an ocean voyage who don't know they're dead

The Fallen Sparrow - hope people recorded this if they did not see it for Bob's Picks

Destination Tokyo - Grant and Garfield together -YES!

Air Force - really an ensemble piece

Tortilla Flat - not a big fan

The Sea Wolf - love Robinson, Lupino and Garfield together

The Made me a Criminal - again, a favourite of mine

Juarez - seen only once

Four Daughters  - love this movie

 

 

 

 

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Bette Davis?  Yes I did.

 

What I should have said that in movie version It was Katherine Hebpurn... I'll make an editorial comment at the bottom of my first post.

 

Actually Hepburn appeared in Stage Door Canteen, while Davis was in Hollywood Canteen. I think you're getting your all star films a little confused here, ColumboFan, which, I know, is more than easy to do.

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Actually Hepburn appeared in Stage Door Canteen, while Davis was in Hollywood Canteen. I think you're getting your all star films a little confused here, ColumboFan, which, I know, is more than easy to do.

Yes, I am.

 

Can I blame it on the power washing going on next door? 

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I can't look at this thread without thinking of the most passionate John Garfield fan I have seen on these boards named Lori. Some of you, I'm sure, will recall her.

 

She was upset about what she considered to be the injustice of Garfield not being as well remembered today as a lot of the other stars of his time, pointing out how he was an early exponent of the method acting style which today is more associated with Brando or Clift, and she was angry and upset about the political machinations of his time which led to his being blackballed by the Hollywood studios and undoubtedly played a huge role in his heart attack death at age 39.

 

Lori created a petition that she wanted to send to Warner Brothers for a DVD box set of his films to be released, and among those people who signed her petition was Julie Garfield, the actor's daughter, with whom Lori had been in contact (through Facebook, I believe). Garfield's daughter knew only too well what a devoted fan her Dad had in Lori.

 

Lori passed away, shockingly, very suddenly, in December, 2012.  Much to my surprise, though, her touching tribute to her film favorite still exists on You Tube today. Lori would be pleased.

 

Here it is:

 

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Actually Hepburn appeared in Stage Door Canteen, while Davis was in Hollywood Canteen. I think you're getting your all star films a little confused here, ColumboFan, which, I know, is more than easy to do.

The whole first post in this thread is now edited to fix this.

 

I got the two movies mixed up in a games and trivia thread before.

 

Don't even start asking me who is in Thousands Cheer.  I started to watch that as a Gene Kelly fan and did not realize until I started watching it that it was a thinly veiled plot so Hollywood could get all stars to do whatever it was that made them the most famous.

 

lets just say that Thousands Cheer was a one time viewing for me.

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I can't look at this thread without thinking of the most passionate John Garfield fan I have seen on these boards named Lori. Some of you, I'm sure, will recall her.

 

She was upset about what she considered to be the injustice of Garfield not being as well remembered today as a lot of the other stars of his time, pointing out how he was an early exponent of the method acting style which today is more associated with Brando or Clift, and she was angry and upset about the political machinations of his time which led to his being blackballed by the Hollywood studios and undoubtedly played a huge role in his heart attack death at age 39.

 

Lori created a petition that she wanted to send to Warner Brothers for a DVD box set of his films to be released, and among those people who signed her petition was Julie Garfield, the actor's daughter, with whom Lori had been in contact (through Facebook, I believe). Garfield's daughter knew only too well what a devoted fan her Dad had in Lori.

 

Lori passed away, shockingly, very suddenly, in December, 2012.  Much to my surprise, though, her touching tribute to her film favorite still exists on You Tube today. Lori would be pleased.

 

Here it is:

 

Thanks so much for sharing this Tom.

 

I have seen this on Youtube before.

 

I am sorry I never met Lori.

 

Now I am THRILLED  I sent a private message to LawrenceA about whether or not he as going to start a thread on John Garfield as he has being doing when he changes his avatar.  He did not do a separate thread for Flynn, because Speedracer already has one.

 

 

When Larry said he was not feeling like it today, I asked him if he would not mind doing one as I am a big fan of Garfield.

 

Obviously, not as big a fan of Garfield as Lori, but I can tell you this:

 

Gregory Peck had an official fan club on yahoogroups  whose founder met Gregory Peck at one of his talks.  Because of this, when we did a birthday tribute book for him when he turned 85, the book was delivered to his doorstep.

 

He knew who I was, and all of us, even though I never met him in person.

 

When he died, the group did a memorial tribute book for his widow, but I was too devastated to take part in it.

 

I was also a member of Richard Widmark's fan club on that site -never made official - and he knew who we were because his daughter showed him the website.

 

She contacted us to get us to stop trying to get him a Lifetime achievement Oscar because he did not want one.

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Tom, thank you for posting Lori's amazing tribute to John Garfield. Although I'm a great admirer of Garfield, I never think of him as one of the best-looking actors of his era, yet in some of these shots he is breathtakingly handsome. The variety of looks shows how many different ways he could be cast.

 

Lawrence makes a great point about the roles Garfield might have played, had he lived. He would have made a sensational Don Corleone in THE GODFATHER. I'd like to have seen his Captain Queeg in THE CAINE MUTINY, too.

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What adds to the loss, for us, as film fans and fans of Garfield, in particular, is that the actor was clearly maturing as an actor in his later films. At the time of his death there is every reason to believe that his best work as an actor was yet to come.

 

This first becomes apparent to me in his portrayal of the street guy who becomes a lawyer for the Mob in Force of Evil. Garfield, with his suits and ties, has the unexpected elegant look of Wall Street about him. Yet the street guy is always there, bubbling just beneath the surface. But he plays a smoothie in this film, a sharp guy, and listen to the actor's impressive delivery of some of Abraham Polonsky's oddly affecting poetic dialogue (particularly in his exchanges with his sensitive leading lady, Beatrice Pearson).

 

No one talks like that in real life, of course. It was clearly an experimentation on the filmmakers' parts to have that kind of surrealistic dialogue but it works, I think, thanks to Garfield.

 

Even moreso, however, I point to the actor's second last film, The Breaking Point. This is my favourite Garfield performance and probably my favourite Garfield film.

 

As a film version of Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, it's interesting to contrast this film to the more famous Bogart-Hawks version (which kept the author's title). For starters, the Garfield-Michael Curtiz version is closer to Hemingway's short story than the Bogart, the latter, essentially, a Casablanca-derived adventure film with an emphasis upon action and romance.

 

Everyone remembers the sexy Bogart-Bacall banter and that's fine if that's all you're looking for. But there is no real suspense or human drama in this film. It's Bogart in Super Hero mode, and we all know that he will be trumphant at the end.

 

But that's not the case in The Breaking Point. This is not a story of a "hot romance" but a tale of survival. Garfield is a family man with two kids who has difficulty putting money on the table and gets mixed up with gangsters because he needs the money. That will lead to tragic consequences, beyond the main protagonist's control.

 

This is a film about a barely surviving family man (once a "hero" in the war, that now a faded memory), and the desperation he feels at not being able to support his family. As opposed to the indestructible Bogart, Garfield is a flawed human being, one scared, his emotional (and later physical) vulnerability palpable. We can never be sure that Garfield will be trumphant, therefore there is far more genuine suspense in The Breaking Point than in the Bogart-Hawks film, and far more emotional investment from the viewer.

 

Bogart and Hawks are taking us on a slick adventure so we just sit back and go along for the ride (a nice sexy detour with smoky eyed Bacall actually becomes the main emphasis of the film). But the Garfield film, because of his character's vulnerability and the great uncertainty of the outcome, grips our insides (it certainly did me) and we are on pins and needles as to what will happen next.

 

The Bogart film works as slick entertainment while the Garfield film is the stuff of great human drama. And throughout the entire film Garfield is the part that he plays, the man who repeats to himself towards the end "A man alone ain't got no chance."

 

It was a line, ironically, that could soon be applied to the actor himself, as his left wing politics put him under the microscope and the Hollywood studios (starting off with Warner Brothers which cancelled a followup film after Breaking Point), fearful of being branded communist sympathizers, uniformly turned their backs on him.

 

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