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THE BREAKING POINT, Sunday August 16 at 12pm (EST)


TomJH
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Probably the last great film of director Michael Curtiz's career, Ernest Hemingway considered The Breaking Point to be the best film adaption of any of his works. The second to last film in the career of John Garfield, it has, among its many virtues, one of the most poignant final shots that you will ever see in a film.

 

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I really like this film with John Garfield too!  I will have to watch the entire film again to see the

scene you mentioned.  I had taped many of his films (including this one)  on VHS several years ago and were transferred to DVD.  I plan to re-watch this film tonight.  I remember he was at a breaking point in his career and it filtered into his marriage,  I seem to recall that Phyllis Thaxter was his wife.  Both turned inn an outstanding performance.

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Probably the last great film of director Michael Curtiz's career, Ernest Hemingway considered The Breaking Point to be the best film adaption of any of his works. The second to last film in the career of John Garfield, it has, among its many virtues, one of the most poignant final shots that you will ever see in a film.

 

 

Not the last great film of Curtiz' career. That film came a few years later, in 1954, and gave Bella Darvi her big break.

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Wallace Ford is very good in this too.

He is, indeed, his weasely wheeler dealer of underground activities slowly evolving into a pathetic and scared little man way in over his head who will perhaps even elicit a little bit of audience sympathy, something quite inconceivable after his initial appearances in the film.

 

But the entire cast is excellent, including Phyllis Thaxter, an actress who usually doesn't make that much of an impression upon me, as Garfield's wife. Garfield is particularly fine, I feel. He was clearly maturing as an actor from the young hot head with a chip on his shoulder character that he had previously played so often in his career. Here he conveys a depth of feeling that is most effective, making his Harry Morgan a far more flawed, vulnerable and interesting characterization, to me, than the one that Bogart had done just a few years before in the first adaption (of sorts) of Hemingway's novella, To Have and Have Not.

 

In the famous Bogart-Howard Hawks version, though, the story becomes mere backdrop for the scenes of sexual chemistry and bantering between Bogart and Bacall. That film works well on the rather superficial level of breezy action romance with Bogie in superhero form. No one watching that film has any doubts that Bogart's Harry Morgan will eventually emerge triumphant.

 

That is not the case with John Garfield's version of the character in The Breaking Point. Garfield is full of self doubts and insecurities, portraying a man who is afraid that he can't support his family, thereby resorting to getting involved in criminal activity for a fast buck.

 

The relationships portrayed in this film, whether that within Garfield's family, with loyal ship mate Juano Hernandez (another wonderful performance) or even with a fast talking party girl (Patricia Neal) with whom he faces temptation, all bringing layers of depth to the film. Therefore, when a flawed anti-hero like Garfield puts his life potentially on the line and the outcome is far from assured, the emotional involvement of the viewer is palpable.

 

As I said in the OP of this thread, too, Mike Curtiz's final shot in the film is a masterful one, and one which has considerable emotional impact which sneaks up on the viewer. It's a truly memorable finale to an equally memorable film.

 

For far too long The Breaking Point had disappeared from view, and become a largely forgotten film. It's only in the past couple of years that a DVD of it was produced by Warner Archives and TCM has revived it with a number of broadcasts.

 

Michael Curtiz's post-'40s films are a largely disappointing lot. This 1950 production, however, ranks among the best films of his career, I feel.

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  I totally agree. THE BREAKING POINT is one of Michael Curtiz's best films.  The entire cast in this film does an excellent job. By the way, the only piece of ---- on today's tribute to Patricia Neal is RATON PASS. She must have known it also. When interviewed by Robert Osborne a few years before her death,it wasn't even mentioned.

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I was just reading that The Breaking Point (1950) was restored with help form Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation and is held in the UCLA Archive.

I'm not sure when this was done but I am guessing that this was the copy that TCM was showing recently.

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I was just reading that The Breaking Point (1950) was restored with help form Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation and is held in the UCLA Archive.

I'm not sure when this was done but I am guessing that this was the copy that TCM was showing recently.

Thanks for that news, Bogie. It's great to hear that a long neglected and even forgotten film has received the treatment that it so rightfully deserves.

 

When John Garfield died in 1952 I suspect that he was best known for Body and Soul, his boxing hit of five years before. Today, because of its film noir status, The Postman Always Rings Twice may well be his most famous film.

 

But throughout it all, The Breaking Point, which received good reviews at the time of its release but little promotion from Warner Brothers (because of the increasing Red Scare controversy engulfing its star), dying at the 1950 box office, has been a small masterpiece in Garfield's career about which few people appeared to be aware.

 

Finally, over six decades after its release, the film is starting to receive the attention and respect that it always deserved. This film has what is probably my favourite John Garfield performance.

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