March 4, 1913 – May 21, 1952
John Garfield is, and has been for many years, one of my most favorite actors - right up there with Cagney, Kirk, Burt, DeNiro and The Duke! If someone were to ask me, who's this guy John Garfield, whats he all about? I'd first show them the picture above because it so totally captures his onscreen persona...I wish I knew the name of the photographer!
A still from "Force of Evil" 1948, arguably John Garfield's greatest performance, but certainly one of them! This is one of those films that the more times you see it the more you get from it thanks to the incredible screenplay and direction from the then soon-to-be-blacklisted Abraham Polonsky, stunning cinematography by George barnes, a great score by David Raskin and stellar performaces from every cast member, but especially Garfield and Thomas Gomez! My interest in this film started with my interest in Martin Scorsese and he so often referred to this film in interviews and discussions and since I had already started being interested in Garfields work, well I just had to see it and have seen it many times since!
Garfield was perfectly cast as wanderer Frank Chambers in MGM's slick 1946 production of "The Postman Always Rings Twice". Lana Turner was also perfectly cast, I mean seriously, who WOULDNT kill Cecil Kellaway for her?
I have been collecting John Garfield memorablilia for many years now and probably have more material on him than almost anyone else. A vintage one-sheet poster for 1938's "Blackwells Island" hangs right near my TV. That was only his second film and WB threw that into production right after "Four Daughters" wrapped up, but after that film was released and Garfield caused such a sensation they went back and reshot many scenes trying to elevate it's B level production. The result is a fun and silly "tough guy" picture but certainly far beneath his abilities.
My vintage one-sheet poster for "Saturday's Children" 1940, a film Garfield very much wanted to do because it would give him a chance to stretch and play a wilbur milquetoast type guy. The film did mediocre box-office which was all WB needed to throw him right back into the same brooding tough guy roles he had been playing for 2 years non stop.
I thought my blinds looked boring so I hung a half sheet in each window, this one for WB 1946 production of "Nobody Lives Forever" directed by Jean Negulesco, one of my favorite post war directors. I also have several Lobby Cards and a One-Sheet from that film. I NEVER open those blinds....sunlight....BAD for artwork and old cheaply printed movie posters!
Hanging on the door to my art studio is a 1953 re-release insert style poster for Garfield's boxing noir "Body and Soul" 1947 - absolutely one of his greatest performances and just a great must-see film overall with an incredible cast, a beautifully written screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and solid direction from Robert Rossen. It was the only time John Garfield ever received an oscar nomination for best actor but he lost out to Ronald Coleman in "A Double Life".
On the wall of the stairway leading to the Art studio loft is a One-Sheet poster for "Humoresque" 1946, another absolute must-see John Garfield film and in my opinion Joan Crawford's finest hour. Jean Negulesco was director on this one too
Below are 4 Lobby Cards from "Castle on the Hudson" 1940 which was a remake of "20,000 Years in Sing Sing" which starred Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. These are on that weird "linen" paper that WB sometimes used.
Below is a Lobby Card for "The Breaking Point" which was a remake of "To Have and Have Not" but apparently more faithful to the original Hemingway story. Co-star Patricia Neal was on TCM talking about this film...I guess Garfield was discussing her character with her and he says "You know...you're a whore...know what I mean?" laughing she says "Yeah i knew what he meant!". Directed by Michael Curtiz and with a great supporting cast, I recommend this film highly!
Yet another great John Garfield performance can be seen in WB 1945 production of "Pride of the Marines", believe me, a far cry from the patriotic flag-waving war films of the previous few years! This was the 2nd of his films I ever saw (The first being "Gentleman's Agreement", which, no disrespect intended, he promptly stole from his co-stars with just a few scenes) and I was really impressed with his interpretation of real life Marine Al Schmidt, who was blinded in combat and trying to cope with life after he gets back home. Its heavy stuff with some of the most intense "battle scenes" (all experienced from a foxhole in Guadalcanal) ever. Co-star Dane Calrk gave his career best performance in that film.
"Get 'em in the eyes, get 'em RIGHT in the eyes!"
One of 2 vintage Lobby Cards I have for that film. I also have a One Sheet which gets my top prize for most misleading movie poster ever... it pictures John Garfield, Eleanor Parker and Dane Clark all smiling and holding hands and off to the side a close up of Garfield and Parker together, smiling and rosie cheeked - one would instantly think its a fun-filled musical like "Yankee Doodle Dandy"or silly war-time farce like "Pillow to Post"! HARDLY!
Lobby Card for "We Were Strangers" directed by John Huston. Very good film, with one of the best roles for the always excellent Gilbert Roland!
The prize of my John Garfield collection, a vintage (is there any other kind?) autograph matted up with a still photo. I found it many years ago at an antique paper show, poorly matted, so upon taking it apart I found on the reverse side, another peice of paper signed by WB actor Dane Clark who co-starred in 2 films with Garfield! That helped soften the sting of what I had to pay haha!
Another fave still photo of John Garfield taken by the great George Hurrell - who is he running from?....probably himself....
edit: I am linking this post to the John Garfield 100th birthday blogathon at "They Dont Make 'Em Like They Used To"