Monday, March 4, 2013

John Garfield 100th Birthday Blogathon: Humoresque(1947).

To celebrate classic actor John Garfield’s centennial birthday. Patti at "They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To", is hosting The John Garfield Centennial Blogathon. Please click on poster located on the side bar to read all contributions.

This is my contribution to the John Garfield, event. He was a popular leading man of his era, who made some great films. Which brings us to one of my favorite Garfield films the very glamorous:

Humoresque(1947). One of the best tortured love stories ever filmed. It is about.. one rich, bored with life woman and one poor, talented young man violinist, who fall in love and make trouble for everybody including themselves. Cast: Joan Crawford, John Garfield, Oscar Levant, J. Carroll Nash, Joan Chandler, Tom D'Andrea, Peggy Knudsen, Ruth Nelson, Craig Stevens, Paul Cavanaugh, Richard Gaines, John Abbott, Bobby Blake, Tommy Cook, Don McGuire, Fritz Leiber, Peg La Centra, Nestor Paiva, Richard Walsh.

John Garfield's violin "performances" are actually played by two professional violinists standing on either side of him, one to bow and one to finger. The actual music was performed by Isaac Stern. According to Isaac Stern's autobiography, "My First 79 Years", when the movie shows closeups of the hands alone playing the violin (without Garfield in the frame), those are Stern's hands you see.

Awards: 1947 Oscar nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture: Franz Waxman.

Violinist Paul Boray, first becomes interested in the violin as a child when he receives the violin as a birthday present. Phil, Paul's older brother, resents the fact that Paul spends all his time practicing, instead of working in the family grocery store.

Paul, finds a job with a radio orchestra, but.. things don't work out because he thinks he is ready to make his classical concert debut. His friend Sid, suggests that he attend a party at the home of socialites Helen and Victor Wright, where he might meet the right people, who introduces him to Bauer.

At the party Helen, who is jaded and bored with her life, amuses herself with young men. Becomes interested in the ambitious classical violinist performing at her party, she jokes that he will probably end up in prison.

Soon after, Paul becomes a successful performer and he and Helen fall in love. When Helen talks things over with his mother Esther, she reminds Helen about her three previous failed marriages and begs her to leave Paul alone.

One night, while Paul is performing on the radio, a drunken Helen realizes that she maybe holding him back from the thing he loves the most, his career. You see the despair written on Crawford's face and her loneliness of being in an unhappy marriage and not knowing what to do with her forbidden love.

The final chilling good-by scene is when Helen, walks along the beach, the ocean is dark, lonely and beautiful all at the same time....


  1. This is such a wonderful of my faves of both Garfield and Crawford. The music is beautiful...and that ending scene is haunting.

    When I first went to watch this movie a few years ago, I thought the pairing of Garfield and Crawford seemed very odd, but I found that it worked. I think they both were excellent, and there appeared to be great chemistry between them.

    Your review is a wonderful addition to the blogathon. Thanks so much for participating and for your help in spreading the word.

  2. Good post, Dawn! This is very much not my sort of film (and I must confess, I usually go out of my way to avoid Joan Crawford movies), but I enjoyed your review, especially the information about how Garfield's violin playing was achieved. That's a great final shot, of Crawford striding off donw the beach.

    The presence of Garfield almost - almost ;) - makes me want to check this one out.

  3. Dawn, I just LOVE this film. It really is Crawford's show, but it's fun to see her go toe to toe with a real actor. It is gorgeous, glamorous and totally over the top. Great post and a great choice to honor Garfield.

  4. I love this film too - in many ways (not just at the end) it seems to be like a role reversal version of 'A Star Is Born'. Both Crawford and Garfield are excellent. Really liked your posting, Dawn, and I was interested in how the violin playing scenes were achieved. Must just add that I love Oscar Levant in this film!

  5. Patti, I agree.. the pairing of Garfield and Crawford did seem odd to me at first, but.. I think it helped with their performance at being a couple of troubled misfits.

    Jeff Flugel, LOL.. Thank you. You never know someday you might be in the mood to watch this film.

    FlickChick, Thank you from one Chick to another...

    Judy, I can see why this film would remind you of the wonderful film,'A Star Is Born'. Oscar Levant, was not in many films, but.. the ones he was in were great films.

  6. Oh, I haven't seen this in forever! I adore Joan Crawford and definitely need to see it again. I don't think I was very familiar with John Garfield when I did see it so it would be interesting to pay more attention to his role next time around.

    Wonderful review!

  7. Dawn, I must confess that films like HUMORESQUE usually make me want to scold people like Joan Crawford's character: "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, lady! Do something useful with your life and teach kids to read or learn a trade or something!" This is why I'd never be the heroine of a Fannie Hurst novel, I guess! :-D Nevertheless, your beautifully written post about HUMORESQUE really held my interest, with Isaac Stern's music and that terrific cast - with Oscar Levant being my favorite. Your post is a wonderful read, Dawn, as usual! Great job!

  8. Hi Dawn, a great review that sounds like a wonderful film to watch on a rainy day with a cup of hot chocolate.

    I've been a bit busy latley but just want to say I really like the new look.

  9. Victoria, Thank you. This my favorite John Garfield, performance that I have seen so far.

    DorianTB, Thank you. I know.. but, it makes for an interesting story.. :)

    Alyssa LM, Thank you.. It is a perfect movie to watch on a rainy day with a cup of hot chocolate.

  10. Dawn, glad you chose this one for your contribution to the Garfield blogathon. I'm not a huge fan of Crawford. I like her work from the early thirties and the mid-late forties the best, and "Humoresque" is my favorite Crawford performance of all. Even though it seems more a Joan Crawford movie than a John Garfield movie, he does manage to hold his own in a role that calls for the usual Garfield intensity but also an artistic sensitivity that isn't typical of a Garfield role. Glad you mentioned Oscar Levant, whose wisecracking cynicism allows him to steal every scene he's in!

  11. R. D. Finch, I have not seen many of John Garfield's films. So, my list of choices for this blogathon, were some what limited.

    I have enjoyed reading others favorite films. As it will help me pick the John Garfield films that might be of interest to me..


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