John Garfield (March 4, 1913 – May 21, 1952) was known as a predecessor of Method actors such as: as Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and James Dean.
After the death of his mother, Garfield was sent to a school for difficult children in the Bronx. There he was introduced to both boxing and acting. He received a scholarship to Maria Ouspenskaya's acting school, making his Broadway debut in 1932. After which, he became a member of the Group Theater. Garfield, decided to leave Broadway and travel out to Hollywood. In 1938, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in, Four Daughters(1938).
A Musical drama film, that tells the story of a talented musical family, whose lives are turned upside down by a troubled young composer. Cast: The Lane Sisters, Gale Page, Claude Rains, Jeffrey Lynn, John Garfield and Dick Foran. The Lanes were real sisters, members of a family singing trio. Directed by Michael Curtiz.
The Lemps family, run a boarding house where a young composer Felix Deitz, is one of the tenants. One of the neighbor's named Ernest, is in love with Emma, the oldest daughter, but she does not feel the same. Thea, a pianist and the second oldest, is dating a wealthy man, Ben Crowley. Kay, the next oldest, is a talented singer and is working towards a music school scholarship. The youngest daughter is Ann, a violinist. The new tenant is a troubled young man named Mickey, an orchestral arranger and a friend of Felix. Mickey, is in love with Ann, but Felix also has set his cap for her. What starts out as a comedy turns into a melodrama which helped John Garfield, become a major star.
Garfield, also performed in the film, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), with Lana Turner, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames, and Audrey Totter. Directed by Tay Garnett, with a score written by George Bassman.
The story begins when drifter, Frank Chambers, stops at a diner looking for work. The diner is operated by a young woman, Cora Smith and Nick, her much older husband.
Frank and Cora begin a affair and begin making plans to murder Nick, so they can own the diner. They eventually succeed.
Prosecutor, Kyle Sackett, suspects them both of murder, but doesn't have enough evidence to prove it. He comes up with a plan to turn the couple on each other by trying only Cora for the crime. Cora's lawyer prevents Cora's full confession from landing into the hands of the prosecutor. Cora, pleads guilty to manslaughter and receives probation.
Soon after, Cora dies in a car accident and all the circumstances seem to point to Frank. He is convicted of murdering Cora and is sentenced to death.
When he is informed by authorities that they have discovered enough evidence of his guilt in the murder of Nick, Frank decides that his punishment really is for that crime of killing Nick.
Sparks really fly between Lana Turner and John Garfield and because, it is filmed in black and white, it helps create a very suspenseful film noir.
Humoresque (1946). With Joan Crawford. A story about an older woman and younger man violinist. Humoresque, was directed by Jean Negulesco and produced by Jerry Wald. My favorite scene in the film, is when Paul is performing in his major violin performance, while wealthy, possessive, Helen, sits in her expensive box watching him, while his mother and "girlfriend" are in the cheaper seats. It is almost creepy.
Please click here to view Humoresque(1947) movie review.
He also performed in the, the Oscar-winning Best Picture, Gentleman's Agreement (1947). Drama film about a journalist (played by Gregory Peck) who goes undercover as a Jew to conduct research for an expose on antisemitism. Gentleman's Agreement, was based on Laura Z. Hobson's 1947 novel of the same name.
He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his starring role in, Body and Soul (1947). A film noir which tells the story of a boxer who becomes involved with crooked promoters. Cast: John Garfield, Lilli Palmer, Hazel Brooks, Anne Revere and William Conrad.
The movie, written by Abraham Polonsky and directed by Robert Rossen, is considered the first great boxing picture. It's a story about a successful fighter, who becomes surrounded by shady characters. Charley has to make some very difficult choices.
In 1946, when his contract with Warner Bros. expired, Garfield decided not to renew it and started his own independent production company.
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"England has been praised for turning out intelligent, adult pictures whereas Hollywood has been severely censured for turning out junk. I don't think criticism is a valid one because, in defense of Hollywood, we have censorship problems England doesn't have. I'm not speaking of the license to do sexy stuff. I'm speaking of the license to present adult ideas and viewpoints, which we lack and which means in turn that many of our pictures lack intelligent content."