Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anecdote & Link of the Week: "You still got a lot of Nazis?"


The Siren has just one link today, to a piece by Kim Morgan about her stint at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. This year Kim presented, among other things, He Ran All the Way, the final film of the great John Garfield, and spoke with Garfield's fabulous daughter Julie. The Siren shares Kim's evangelical fervor on the subject of Garfield's greatness, and since Kim admits to repeating herself on the topic, the Siren will too: Garfield is the actor who truly divides it all into Before and After.

And the Siren echos Kim's question: Where's HIS damn box set?

In small tribute, a brief, piercing passage from Hildegard Knef, the actress who spent some of Garfield's last hours on earth with him.


Garfield's deep-set eyes over the flame of a match.

'How long are you staying?' (he asks).

'I'm flying to Germany in the morning.'

'I'd like to go along! I don't have a passport.'

'To Germany?'

'You still got a lot of Nazis? I'm a Jew.'

'Don't know, they're quiet for the moment.'

'Ours are deafening. It evens things out.'

111 comments:

Raquelle said...

I loved Kim's pictures. I am starting to develop some John Garfield fervor but it's been toned down by my crazy love for Robert Mitchum. I do adore He Ran All the Way when I saw it on the big screen. What a way to go!

And even with my tiny bank account, I'd still shell out for a nice Garfield boxed set.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'd like to toss in my two cents to the fervor for a Julie box set. The man is due. (I'm reminded of that Red Buttons routine about "he never got a dinner.")

One of the very few occasions in which I got "I-can't-spit-I'm-so-mad" was when I read veteran writer Irving Brecher's autobiography and he dismissed Garfield's death as "on top of a hooker." I wanted to kick his keister!

Tony Dayoub said...

What studio did he work for, Siren?

By the way, yell out the answer please. I think the descendants of Garfield's deafening Nazis are all sitting at the McDonald's from where I write this.

Arthur S. said...

John Garfield is the true inventor of modern acting in American cinema and his work in ''Force of Evil'' is one of the most brave and great performances in American cinema.

According to Todd McCarthy's biography of Hawks, his favourite film was ''Scarface''.

DavidEhrenstein said...

You can literally see Garfield dying in .

The other great Garfield film of this period is of course Abraham Polonsky's masterpiece Force of Evil -- a film so good he wasn't allowed to make another until 1969.

X. Trapnel said...

Force of Evil is indeed great and you sense Garfield expanding his acting range and otherwise coming into his maturity. The loss is incalculable for American film realism. Even though he was often a "victim" it was never in the acted upon/masochist style of Brando/Clift/Dean. He had a controlled ferocity that could have even stood up to George Sanders should such a happy meeting have come to be.
Still, my sentimental favorite is Body and Soul. And will we ever get a restored version without the mysterious excision of the lines about the Nazis "killing our people all over Europe"?

Vanwall said...

My first conscious memory of him was in "The Fallen Sparrow", altho I had certainly must have seen him in many films before that. I was just a kid, but I felt the fear dripping off him in parts of that - it, too, had Nazis that look suspiciously familiar today - and ever after I watched for him. He's my favorite actor, the man was so real and intense on screen.

Great photo to go with with words that sear. Knef is a fave, too, she was marvelous in all things. He's still too radical for a lot of people, the kind of people who decide about boxed sets.

X. Trapnel said...

My favorite Garfield moment (from Body and Soul): "You need money to buy a gun!" (exit, door slam).

The Siren said...

Tony, it was WB, although he made some famous films on loan, like Postman.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And the great last line: "What are you gonna do? Kill me? Everybody dies."

X. Trapnel said...

David,

Of course that line is magnificent, but you'll pardon my pedantry if I point out that the last line is: "I've never felt better in my life."

Yojimboen said...

This one’s on e-Bay as we speak, already up to $1200.
(kidding!)

Speaking of sex, did anyone catch Our George in The Whole Truth last night on TCM? (I’d never seen it – it’s terrific.)
GS looked just as good with his shirt on. Stewart Granger was never more… Stewart Granger-ish; but the night belonged to Donna Reed (TCM’s ‘Star of the Month’) in a spaghetti strap black number which reminded yours truly that, when she was of a mind to, Our Donna could smoulder.

X. Trapnel said...

She sure could. And you can bet John Garfield wouldn't have been gazing off into the middle distance.

Tony Dayoub said...

@Siren, I was hoping you'd say Warner. I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest this but maybe you and your followers can suggest the film be released through Warner Archive. They take suggestions on their FB page.

Yojimboen said...

Back to topic: I must confess to a relative unfamiliarity with Garfield’s work – perhaps because I’ve never sought him out, the few films of his that I’ve seen I wasn’t taken by. While I won’t question his obvious animal magnetism, he seemed always to me a limited actor – very good at what he did within a narrow range. Was he ever permitted to play a character of real intellectual force, or did Warners decide up front to keep him penned as the semi-inarticulate, wounded but adorable bruised-knuckle type? And if so, why?

Even in something like Humoresque where one might expect some polish, some introspection (he is a virtuoso after all), he delivers his dialog as if his day job was still down on Hester St. delivering coal. Ultimately Isaac Stern, with his arms through Garfield’s sleeves, gives a more convincing performance.
(Fair disclosure: Negulesco deserves some blame, and I’m no fan of either J. Crawford or C. Odets.)

But I have enough respect for this kaffee klatsch to study him further.
(Be patient with me.) I don’t believe he was untalented; clearly he had a magnetic presence which, for me, was always nearly, but never completely manifested. It may be simply that he never got the role he deserved or needed.

Karen said...

It looks like this is a safe milieu to again air my dissatisfaction with Frank Sinatra's reinterpretation of Garfield's brilliant role from Four Daughters. And I like Sinatra's acting! But it just feels so lifeless in comparison.

Y., I'm not convinced that Garfield was a limited actor, but I think he didn't get a hugely wide range of parts. I hope that that would have changed if he'd lived longer. I think he's almost unparalleled in his ability to express vulnerability without weakness, as X.T. so cleverly observes. And he had a sly sense of humor that shone through just often enough to make me sorry not to see him in some full-out comedies. Plus? GORGEOUS. Yeesh.

I think he felt like someone from the streets of NY in the same way the young Pacino did, but not necessarily as a coal deliveryman. A kid from the streets who'd worked his way out--or was trying his damnedest.

Incidentally: my WV is "bultsism." And here I thought I knew ALL the -isms.

X. Trapnel said...

No question, Y, that Garfield was typecast, but he wasn't semi-articulate; he was a talker and very responsive to other actors (unlike the self-involved method persons). I think he could have done wonders as a sophisticated New Yorker with good Ernest Lehmann dialogue. He also had a light touch that someone like Kirk Douglas (to me a dispiriting substitute) utterly lacked. But molar grinding, mumbling, and pained frozen staring would ultimately win the decade.

X. Trapnel said...

"I think he felt like someone from the streets of NY.... A kid from the streets who'd worked his way out--or was trying his damnedest."

Exactly. Garfield is REAL. If you're a New Yorker or of NY descent he seems like family.

Happy Miser said...

I was all set for the Warner Archives to release "The Breaking Point" but it has disappeared from their roster. Never much of a fan myself until Scorsese recommended "Force of Evil" in his Personal Journey documentary.
I love the lines where Garfield talks of altruism being unnatural and inhuman!

Sheila O'Malley said...

As I mentioned on Kim's site, Garfield's screen debut in Four Daughters is still shocking to watch today, for the sheer radical modernity of it. Everyone in the movie is fine, adorable, charming - but he walks in the room and you feel that REALITY has just arrived. He is riveting. Playing the piano, cigarette dangling - sexy sexy sexy - He's not even the lead. He's the "bad other" who comes to disrupt this nice family - but it's one of those debuts that tips the balance of the entire film. I'm supposed to care about Jeffrey Lynn, but all I am thinking is: "who the hell was THAT? and where did he GO? and when will he come BACK?"

a true star-making debut.

Vanwall said...

I do have to give some credit, a large dose of it to be sure, to the wonderful Thomas Gomez in "Force of Evil", a truly great supporting turn by a marvelous actor - he grounds the film in the great tradition of the common man. His scenes with Garfield are great brother against brother cut and thrust affairs, with words as swords,and Gomez's body as armor for his "family" of workers against Garfield's lure of ultimate corruption. The mob hit scene in the restaurant is, and was for me as a kid, frighteningly final.

The Siren said...

I need to re-watch Force of Evil, clearly. Yojimboen, I am glad you made your comment because a total love-fest can get repetitive. I happen to love Humoresque, and while I see your point, Garfield is supposed to be from a poor and tough background. Karen is right that he didn't get a huge variety of parts, although I would argue that his turn in Gentleman's Agreement is something of a departure. It was a part he wanted to play because the theme of the movie spoke to him, for obvious reasons, and he and (Yojimboen love) Celeste Holm are the ones in the movie who speak and react as recognizable people and not essay topics.

Also totally agree with XT that Garfield was an extremely articulate actor, very adept with long passages of dialogue and able to give street talk all kinds of unexpected cadences.

Happy Miser, you remind me that I have Breaking Point in the DVR all ready for a repeat viewing.

Ivan, indeed the man is due. Raquelle, Julie can bide his time until the Mitchum fever breaks. :)

The Siren said...

Also, damn it, didn't record last night's Sanders. We had dinner guests and I totally forgot. Phooey.

ladybug said...

I'm certain that one or two of us can get you a copy of last night's Sanders.

Sheila O'Malley said...

I have always felt that he must have been electric on stage, all that rat-a-tat Clifford Odets language - Odets was always writing for Garfield, who had the cadences naturally - the tough-guy street-talk-poetry of Odets.

Garfield played Ralph Berger in the Broadway production of Odets' Awake and Sing in 1935 - and Berger is given most of the "thematic" language in the play - difficult to pull off, hard to get your mouth around them, but I would have loved to hear Garfield say them:

"Boy, I'm tell you I could sing. Jake, she's like stars. She's so beautiful you look at her and cry. She's like French words."

"Every time I go near the place I get heart failure. The uncle drives a bus. You oughta see him - like Babe Ruth."

"No girl means anything to me until ... Till I can take care of her. Till we don't look out on an airshaft. Till we can take the world in two hands and polish off the dirt. Once upon a time I thought I'd drown to death in bolts of silk and velour. But I grew up these last few weeks.... Spit on your hands and get to work. And with enough teams together maybe we'll get steam in the warehouse so our fingers don't freeze off. Maybe we'll fix it so life won't be printed on dollar bills."


Classic Odets. Very very hard to do - I mean, it's top heavy with slogans, and all that Odets stuff - but Garfield was apparently incredible at it, and I would have loved to hear him say those lines.

Yojimboen said...

Okay, Sheila O’, you win. I’ve just screened Four Daughters (for the first time in, oh… 30 years?).

Wow. What a hybrid. The first third of the movie couldn’t be peaches and creamier, you’d swear the Lane Sisters (+1) were over on the Metro lot, living right next door to Judge Hardy & co; I mean you can almost smell the apple pie…
Then, boom!

Enter John Garfield stage right (in his first featured role, mind you) and it all goes pear-shaped. From that moment on, you know you’re in a Warners’ movie.

Jeezus! He was raw, far from polished, but clearly Curtiz was enough of an old hand to recognize he was on to something. Time and again Curtiz puts the entire ensemble - 12 characters – in a single wide shot; everybody talking, waving their arms… except Garfield, sitting still and silent. And of course every single time, you can’t take your eyes from him.

(Interestingly, Garfield was billed after Claude Rains but above Jeffrey Lynn, Frank McHugh and Dick Foran. To get second-billing on his first film tells us that, at the very least, Jack Warner knew what he had.) Wow.

Sheila O'Malley said...

Yojimboen - ha! So glad you checked it out. I have an old VHS copy of Four Daughters - is it on Youtube?? I can't find a DVD copy of it anywhere, which may just be me not looking in the right place.

Yes: wow to Garfield, indeed. What a debut, what a first entrance.

It's really the contrast, isn't it, with the other performers that makes him seem so much like ... an emissary from the future or something. How he doesn't appear to be DOing anything - except smoking and listening and being present. (And sexy. He's really USING that sexiness - in a way that seems very self-aware and modern.) It's riveting. Totally pulls focus.

I missed him when he exited the movie. I gotta hang around with those drips? Where did that sexy guy go??

Vanwall said...

Don't forget the other Lane sisters' Garfield connections, the immediate follow-on "Daughters Courageous" where the whole "Four Daughters" film was tweaked a little and re-done, with Garfield's smoldering presence practically de rigueur to make the most of the new find, never mind the rest of the actors. And remember, the sequel to "Four Daughter" was "Four Wives", what shoulda been a Priscilla Lane star vehicle wasn't strong enough for the sequel to stand on its own - the studio damn well knew they better have Garfield back in it, so they dream-sequenced him a bit, and prominently billed his part.

I actually thought his work in "Humoresque" would have been vitiated if he wasn't still the tough street kid right to the end - the feral domination/attraction romance with Crawford would never have worked otherwise. And his implied future with Joan Chandler's character, another kind of intelligent attraction coupled with animal magnetism, was the kind that no one else other than Garfield could've accomplished so believably.

gmoke said...

So glad you brought up "Gentleman's Agreement." The scene where Garfield talks about his character's experience of anti-semitism to Dorothy McGuire's is quiet and intimate and cuts deeply. The rest of the movie is too earnest for its own good but Garfield's calm dignity throughout the film anchors the goys and shiksas trying to fathom the otherness they created.

Yojimboen said...

Sheila - Four Daughters is now available at Warners.

Sheila O'Malley said...

Yojimboen - thank you! Enough with my old battered video tape.

The Siren said...

Ah Yojimboen, you warm my heart, and Sheila, what an awesome description of Garfield's entrance in Four Daughters. I simply don't get Priscilla Lane or her sisters, they bore me, but Garfield makes even them sexy.

Gmoke, Garfield's scene with McGuire accomplishes more than the rest of it put together.

Vanwall, I agree about Humoresque. If Garfield had played the musician as more of a sensitive sort you figure Crawford would have bitten him in half and there's an end to the movie, right there.

The Siren said...

Oh, and tying together two recent obsessions; in Memoirs of an Amnesiac, Oscar Levant claims that Garfield's Four Daughters character was based on him, which seems quite plausible.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Garfield looks forward to Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel in the same way that Monty Clift looks forward to Brando and Dean.

And yes he is indeed Sex on a Stick -- truly troubling therefore to anti-semites everywhere.

X. Trapnel said...

Garfield/Lynn, the Warner Bros. split personality whose ultimate expression is Rick/Victor. I sense that the Bros. really believed in Lynn, not as an actor but as a symbol of the upstanding young American who has absorbed old Europe ("I write modern tone poems") and the moral example of Great Men of History (the Claude Rains character in 4 Daughters is a Paul Muni part), but who can still mix it up and triumph over the likes of Bogart, Cagney, and Garfield.

The Siren said...

Jeffrey Lynn was about as sexy as an unsalted egg-white omelette. Put Lynn in the same room with Garfield and there isn't a woman alive who would even realize he was there. If you're right and the Bros. Warner really thought they had something with the guy, it's proof positive that men are often lousy at judging what really appeals to women.

X. Trapnel said...

I'm guessing the Bros. considered Priscilla Lane the happy medium of womanhood. She might be drawn momentarily to Garfield but knows that True and Lasting Happiness is only to be found in the amorphous embraces of Jeffrey L.

The Siren said...

The Warners had the weirdest collection of ingenues in captivity.

Karen said...

Well, Priscilla Lane takes Jeffrey Lane over Jimmy Cagney in The Roaring Twenties, so we can't give her credit for too much sense.

Perhaps they gave her Garfield in Four Daughters as a consolation prize? "Jeffrey Lynn?? Never again!!"

Karen said...

Oh, wait! Four Daughters came FIRST! So...Priscilla Lane, having dodged the Jeffrey Lynn bullet once (and, truly, he is a monument to the insipid), signs up one more time to make darn sure she gets him.

Yeesh.

Vanwall said...

Lynn's character in the Four series only gets the girl 'cause Garfield's guy is...dead - a rather disturbing precedent.

X. Trapnel said...

In Four Wives Lane/Lynne (Lemp-Dietz; something curious about those un-WASPy names. I just know the Bros. were trying to tell us something they couldn't quite articulate themselves, not unrealated to the Irish Cagney/Kennedy boys enacting the Gershwin myth in C for C [Young Samson, forsooth!]).

In 4 Wives we get to hear Lynn's "modern tone poem." The lyrically bluesy second subject sounds like pure Garfield.

Lynn also writes music in It All Came True.

How happy that as his coda faded away Bob Cummings was there to make music with Lane.

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

Perhaps we should think of Jeffrey Lynn as the male Joan Leslie.

Yojimboen said...

Perhaps not everyone can access it, so here is the complete NYT review of August 19, 1938 by critic B. R. Crisler.

(The Bosley Crowther pod was still ripening in the greenhouse.)

Part one:

FOUR DAUGHTERS A charming, at times heartbreakingly human, little comedy about life in a musical family of attractive daughters which occasionally is ruffled by the drama of a masculine world outside, Four Daughters, at the Music Hall, tempts one to agree with Jack Warner's recent assertion in the advertisements that it is the climax of his career. Putting aside Mr. Warner's career for the nonce, we may assert with equal confidence that Four Daughters is one of the best pictures of anybody's career, if only for the sake of the marvelously meaningful character of Mickey Borden as portrayed by John (formerly Jules) Garfield, who bites off his lines with a delivery so eloquent that we still aren't sure whether it is the dialogue or Mr. Garfield who is so bitterly brilliant.

Our vote, though, is for Mr. Garfield, and for whatever stars watch over his career on the stage and screen, because, on rereading the dialogue, as we have just done carefully, it seems to have lost something of the acidity, the beautiful clarity it had when Mr. Garfield spoke it. As the most startling innovation in the way of a screen character in years—a fascinating fatalist, reckless and poor and unhappy, who smokes too much, who is insufferably rude to everybody, and who assumes as a matter of course that all the cards are stacked against him, Mr. Garfield is such a sweet relief from conventional screen types, in this one character, anyway, so eloquent of a certain dispossessed class of people, that we can't thank Warner Brothers, Michael Curtiz, the director; Mr. Epstein and Miss Coffee, the screen playwrights; and even Miss Fannie Hurst, the original author, enough for him.

continued

Yojimboen said...

Part two:

In addition to Mr. Warner, Mr. Garfield, and the Music Hall, Four Daughters is also a triumph for Priscilla Lane, who is much more attractive, animated, and intelligent than the run of ingenues; for Jeffrey Lynn, a new romantic discovery who knows how to be handsome inoffensively; for Claude Rains, as the musical father; Frank McHugh, as a rich beau; May Robson as Aunt Etta; Rosemary, as the voice of the family; and Lola as the quiet homebody. In fact, all the Lanes—a prolific and talented tribe—meet at the Music Hall this week, and one would hardly know which Lane to take, so inviting are all three, not to mention Gale Page, who makes an attractive fourth.

The story begins gayly with a blossoming peach tree and a family quintet rendition of Schubert's "Serenade," with Papa wielding his flute like a baton, with Priscilla playing the violin, Lola at the harp (if we remember correctly), Rosemary singing, and Gale at the piano. It is a house full of music and youth and femininity; and the good-humored grumpiness of Papa, who hates jazz; and with only the remotest threat of masculine invasion. But see how the serpent enters this Eden: first Mr. Lynn, a composer, comes swinging on the gate, and then his orchestrator from the city, Mr. Garfield, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, no money, not even a clean shirt, a personal grudge against the Fates, an interesting vocabulary, and a heart of purest suet—Mr. Garfield, the eternal outsider.

In the long run it is this character—and a very fine cinematic invention he is—who steals the picture. His suicide is the pivotal theme, the tragic incident (and Mickey himself would call it an incident) which brings the cinematically predestined lovers, Priscilla and Jeffrey, back together again after Priscilla's impetuous sacrifice of herself on what she fancied was the altar of two other people's happiness. But it's just a simple family story, after all, and it ends—the old folks a little older, the young ones a little less gay—with the same flowering peach tree and Schubert's "Serenade," and with the discordant squeak of Jeffrey swinging on the gate again to interrupt Priscilla's fiddle part. It may be sentimental, but it's grand cinema.

X. Trapnel said...

"It may be sentimental, but it's grand cinema."

Can we return "grand" to the French? Every usage from G(rand)OP to "It was GRAND of you to come" is sickmaking.

Vanwall said...

Grand idea!, M X!

Yojimboen said...

Chère Madame, reminded by you of her friendship with Garfield, I got the Hildegard Knef auto-bio down off the shelf (a lot of dust). Something else gnawed at the memory, but it took a while to find it (the book isn’t indexed): Knef got lost on her way to Darryl Zanuck’s desert house – and arrived very late for the dinner party (bear in mind this was after John Garfield refused to name names):

The host was already sitting over coffee and liqueurs with his guests but the warmth of his welcome soon dispelled my anxiety and I thankfully sipped the whisky he offered. He resumed the monologue which my arrival had apparently interrupted and I tried to catch the rhythm of the nods and grunts of agreement from the others.
With a jolt, we suddenly realized that he’d paused. Looking up, I found his face within inches of mine, front teeth locked around a cigar, sparks flying:

“You know what Communism means?”
“What?”
“Communism!”
“No,” I said.
“Sure you do, you suffered at the hands of Communism.”
“Well no, that was war…”
“War or not, the Communists are the enemies of civilization, of our free country.” His face appeared to melt, shrivel, only the cigar stayed whole, shrunken head-hunter head, abracadabra --- gone.

“I’d like to see people like Garfield rotting of cancer in jail,” the grotesque head says, “And everyone of my friends here tonight’ll agree with me. Whaddaya say?”
I hear again.
His wife stood and clapped her hands.


Very nice, Darryl, very nice. You kiss your mother with that mouth, or just your mistresses?

Yojimboen said...

XT & VW – Does that include Porter’s best line from his best song,
“We’d be so grand at the game…”
If it does, I wanna divorce.

Vanwall said...

Said with, thankfully, no grandiloquent verbiage, M Yo.

Goose said...

Yojimboen,

But on the other hand, Jules Dassin was grateful to Zanuck for giving him work (Night and the City) when he already was known as a Commie.

X. Trapnel said...

Y, yesterday I disagreed with Karen on a finely edged musical point and today, alas, I must disagree with you. I like Easy to Love (though I could name a score of Porter tunes I prefer), but hat line makes my teeth itch (in fact, I had it mind when writing my comment). Only Jimmy Stewart's wobbly warbling keeps that line from feeling like a rusty nail in my ear.

Who gets custody of Club des Femmes? Perhaps we can seek counseling.

Goose said...

John Garfield always seemed so real in his performances. While his ramge of parts he took was perhaps narrow (it would be hard to imagine him as a gunslinger or a pirate), as the beaten down working class stiff battling back, he was peerless. Also, I suggest an overlooked quality that he displayed on screen was gracefulness. Note the way he handled props.

X. Trapnel said...

Another favorite Garfield moment is his early morning romancing of Beatrice Pearson (now there's a strange one) in Force of Evil. It's like watching a Sinatra song. Nice David Raksin music too.

Yojimboen said...

“…Beatrice Pearson (now there's a strange one) in Force of Evil.”

Dunno about ‘strange’, but wouldn’t you love to know the back story on that? Garfield was ‘instrumental’ in getting her the gig, whatever that means. Young, innocent and just so goshdarn purty (in a Cathy O’Donnell kind of way) and clearly not without talent; inexperienced, yes, and maybe the role was half a size too big for her, but a lot of potential there. So what the hell happened before, during or after that production to chase her out of the film business?

As to the movie, Garfield owns it body and soul (plus the sequel, action figure and video game rights). He makes everybody else look and sound like they’re at the first run-through table read.

The Raconteur said...

Y,

Beatrice Pearson is to Cathy O'Donnell as Dane Clark is to John Garfield.

--XT writing from Elsewhere, NJ

Yojimboen said...

Ehh, so's yer sister!

Vanwall said...

"The Fallen Sparrow" is on tonite! Set your recorders.

DavidEhrenstein said...

MY favorite Cole Porter song.

Exiled in NJ said...

Who would consider Addie Ross running off with Brad/Jeffrey Lynn in Letter to Three Wives? Were we supposed to think her taste in men was really that bad?

The Siren said...

Exiled, long time no see! Glad to have you back. Yes, that was a stretch and Paul Douglas was a much better idea. Mankiewicz thought very little of Lynn; described him as a "leaner," meaning an actor who had to have something propping him up, whether it was a table or a mantel or whatever, in order to act.

haralddownbylaw said...

B&W film lives!

Yojimboen said...

VW – saw The Fallen Sparrow, thanks. That makes four Garfields in three days. It’s a conspiracy, isn’t it? You guys organized this to force me to admit Garfield was a very special artist (and basically to eat crow). All right you win. I admit it.
Could someone pass the sauce?

Vanwall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanwall said...

M Yo - I wish all my devious and feverish plots worked this easy. Like it was just chance and timing, huh? Sucked you right in to the Vast Underground Garfield Konspiratzia Building, - a lot of stairs and neon, but you'll like it here. Trust me, brother - I'm not like the others.

It's on a dark, moody, street with the smoke from Fatimas and unfiltered Camels twisting in the still air in black, umbral corners; shining diamonds and red rubies on the fingers of smiling, hard dames; gleaming pistols in the fists of grinning mugs, almost like you, but with with vastly more hunger and less care; pretty girls that always love other men, or love other kinds of death. The Big Men, they just watch - you'll have to get them in the end, tho, or they'll get you. It helps if you came up on the streets, walked the same cracked sidewalks, slept in the same gutters - you'll speak the lingo, you'll know the sanguine, iron taste of blood, you'll know what evil looks like, walks like, smells like. Welcome aboard, pally.

Yojimboen said...

Call your agent, I just took an option on your above comment. I’m pitching it tomorrow at Sony. I’ll let you know.

I’m in the middle of screening Gentleman’s Agreement, and have Between Two Worlds and Juarez on deck.

Later.

The Siren said...

Yojimboen, nothing this week has made me happier than your come-to-Garfield experience. I feel exultant. I feel vindicated. I feel really fucking smug.

Seriously, Garfield and your friend Miss Holm are the main attractions of GA. Between Two Worlds was an odd experience; first time I liked it, second time it creaked like crazy. But Garfield was wonderful both times. It's marvelous to see him play against Greenstreet, two such diametrically opposed approaches to acting still working together very well.

Oh, and thanks so much for the Knef excerpt! I can't find my copy anywhere. I wanted to post that bit because I remembered it so well and Shipman came to my rescue -- he quotes it in Movie Talk.

Vanwall, I will be first in line when that movie is released.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Joe won the Palme d'or at Cannes! Here's a site featuring some of his recent short films and an interview with him.

X. Trapnel said...

V, A modern tone poem of a comment! If the great Warner Bros. music department were still around Max and Erich would be vying to set it music.

Y, make allowances for Between Two Worlds; I have a feeling Edmund Goulding was the director who could have made it work.

The Siren said...

XT, Goulding could have, but my vote would have gone to Dieterle.

X. Trapnel said...

Siren,

You're right! Don't know why I didn't thing of Dieterle. Both he and Goulding are so good with dark atmospherics. Of course Korngold's score (his favorite) keeps everything afloat.

EG is forever blessed for having written Mamselle, his films that I've seen never seem to add up/are less than the sum of their parts, though the parts are damn good. I'm stoking up huge hopes for The Constant Nymph. And I've still not seen Nightmare Alley.

My main gripe with Between Two Worlds (besides the sluggish pacing) is that nothing imaginative/cinematic is done with the shipboard setting. Even the rather primitive early 30s Outward Bound with its eerie art deco images is better in this regard. The ship's foghorn would have given Dante the willies.

The Confidential Agent is another example of great material in the hands of a cinematically clueless director. Where was Fritz Lang?

The Siren said...

XT, you're on the money about how stagey the shipboard setting is. BTW is also weirdly dissonant acting-wise, with a bunch of players who seem to have come from, well, different worlds. God Parker was heartbreakingly gorgeous though. I kept wishing she was the one playing Garfield's sometime girlfriend.

X. Trapnel said...

Part of the dissonance is traceable to the oddness of the script by Daniel Fuchs (a very fine novelist who is "rediscovered" every ten years or so) which sounds like Clifford Odets meets James Hilton meets Samuel Beckett.

I wouldn't mind sailing eternity with Eleanor Parker.

The Siren said...

I'll take Garfield and we'll make it an eternal double date. Like "Lost!" Only with a better cast. ;P

X. Trapnel said...

And how! I'll book passage.

Vanwall said...

"I wouldn't mind sailing eternity with Eleanor Parker."

'Specially in Technicolor!

Another dame what falls for another, later Lynn, though.

BTW never does escape from the stage, something a lot of shipboard films seem to have in common. One must imagine the sea, like in a Lumière Brothers moon shot - perhaps dancing cuties could hold the painted waves.

And thanks for the comps, all!

X. Trapnel said...

V, it isn't so much the missing ocean, it's that the mise-en-scene dispenses with shipness for stageness. Lang could have worked wonders with the labyrinthe of stairways/halls/cabins/ shadows/fog hurling us adown titanic glooms of chasmed fears. And speaking of which, A Night to Remember is never stagy.

The Derelict said...

Aw, I think Between Two Worlds is pretty darn good. Yeah, it's basically an episode of Twilight Zone expanded to two hours -- but, hey, I love the Twilight Zone!

I like how it takes a "film blanc" premise and gives it a film noir feel.

Admittedly, the noir feel is almost entirely due to John Garfield's performance, but there are some nice shots of shadow and fog in the film, especially at the end when Paul Henreid returns to the land of the living and leaves Eleanor Parker to run around hysterically on the darkened ship's deck.

But yeah, William Dieterle bringing some of his Portrait of Jennie magic to Two Worlds would have been choice.

The Siren said...

It's certainly better than OUtward Bound and has its own fascination and some very good moments. I like the society matron's comeuppance, very nicely done. Also, I owe you an email. :)

X. Trapnel said...

Derelict, I hope I didn't give the impression I was knocking BTW; I love it (and the Twilight Zone; cf. in this context "Passage on the Lady Anne"), but greater directorial skill and imagination might have unified its many wonderful bits and made it a great fantasy film on the order of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Vanwall said...

I'm a big fan of using sea settings as special aspects of a film, almost a separate character in itself - nothing is really settled on board, anything could happen at any time. Cabins should be refuges or little jails or hide-aways for lovers, but never still or static. Hallways should always be tunnels from dark to light or vice-versa - companionways and ladders should be always hinting at danger, even in a comedy: one hand for yourself, one for the ship, after all. "Morituri" did real well at that aspect, for example, and fog should be used sparingly, wind less so. On large liners, the long main hallways are curved up gradually each way, (gee, kinda like a...boat!) and don't look like a hotel - and the black gang? Endless possiblilties in the engine rooms, machinery spaces and holds. Yes, there should've been more that was done to use a shipboard setting to emphasize in BTW.

X. Trapnel said...

V, your post shows why we all look to you on all matters nautical and cine-nautical.

Hitchcock did wonders in Lifeboat, keeping the camera on board but carving out dramatic spaces in in the tightest of situations. I love when he goes "below deck" to Hume Cronyn fiddling with Mary Anderson's hair ribbon (ah, Mary Anderson. Just adorable)

Vanwall said...

Glub, glub.

The Derelict said...

Oh, no doubt X Trapnel, BTW is definitely one of those movies that's full of potential and never quite reaches it. I feel like when it does work it's in spite of the tepid direction and uneven script.

And Passage of the Lady Anne! Yes! Loved seeing Gladys Cooper in that. These types of ocean liner stories must always include people with wonderfully clipped British accents. It's like a rule or something.

Seriously, Vanwall, your description of the cinematic possibilities of the nautical setting sound amazing. Would you be willing to direct a b & W movie set on board a cruise ship, please? :D

Siren, I've never seen Outward Bound, but then I always figured, why bother, since it doesn't have John Garfield in it. ;) It's really Garfield, Eleanor Parker, and Sydney Greenstreet that make me love Between Two Worlds. (Oh, and no rush on the email)

Another John Garfield update: Pride of the Marines is playing this weekend on TCM for Memorial Day.

The Siren said...

so what this blog needs now is an Old Dark Boat movie. Hmmm, how about The Hairy Ape?

Yojimboen said...

Sorry if I’m jumping back a step, but my Internet’s been down the last 18 hours and this was ready to post last night:

Though it’s probably 20 years between viewings, I have to report Gentleman’s Agreement hasn’t really changed (Duh! Movies don’t change, just the context of our re-seeing them).

At first blush, it’s Peck and ponderous – two words that unfortunately go together more often than not. Tempting as it is to scoff at its self-righteousness, one must be fair, in 1947, it was at least breaking new ground. It does show some courage in ruffling contemporary feathers, though perhaps not as much as TBYOOL.

Its genesis we are told grew from Darryl Zanuck’s anger at being refused membership in the L.A. Country Club because they assumed, wrongly, that he was Jewish. Wiki
So the question raises its hand, was Zanuck furious at being rejected, or for being mistaken for a Jew? Which, ironically, is one of the movie’s central themes – Dorothy McGuire gets to run with that ball – which remains unresolved and irresolvable.

But it’s barely a Garfield film; he doesn’t appear until over an hour into it, and he’s not given that much to do, except be the token Jew (the luminous Celeste Holm as the ideal shiksa almost balances him), to which task Garfield shows more than willing, but the dialog is only occasionally worthy of his effort. By the ending, when all the characters turn their collars around and start preaching the final message (with a fervor just short of Elmer Gantry), only Garfield – and to a lesser extent Anne Revere as Peck’s mother – manage to completely avoid mawkishness.

But there’s something else going on here, Garfield is so far above the others – I don’t mean he’s showing off – no, his playing is carefully measured, well-tempered to the cadences of his fellow players; but lurking in his eyes is a certain defiance. You can sense Kazan trying to push him further, but Garfield won’t have it. He’s very much his own man (a career constant, it’s increasingly evident to my eye), here he knows better than Kazan who the character is, here it seems he’s warning his director to back off. Sure, Gadge Kazan was the flavor of the month, the Golden Boy… But Garfield knew him when.
I think off-screen and on- John Garfield was trying to caution his friend Kazan not to fall any more deeply in love with himself; and to alert him, above all, not to believe his own press; a warning which we now know fell on deaf ears.

The Siren said...

Yojimboen, beautiful, just beautiful. Boy, when you convert you really go all out, don't you? You make me want to rewatch Gentleman's Agreement, and that is QUITE an accomplishment. But if I do I will probably fast-forward to Garfield.

But I'd be unjust not to say that the scene in the hotel plays quite well, Peck doing something of a dry run for Atticus there in confronting bigotry with no real hope of success.

gmoke said...

It's the quietness of Garfield's scene with Dorothy McGuire in Gentleman's Agreement that stays with me. There's a real depth in that stillness that makes it so very real.

Another Garfield boat film is, of course, The Sea Wolf with Ida Lupino and Edward G Robinson. And I'm sure the ladies love Julie in his striped sailor's shirt.

Yojimboen said...

“I like the society matron's comeuppance…”

Isobel Elsom was the matron, and she did almost own the patent on that character, didn’t she? She was also Mrs. Eynsford-Hill (Freddie’s mater) in My Fair Lady.

DavidEhrenstein said...

The thing about Gentlemen's Agreement is that it was a film about anti-semitism made by the only goyish studio in town. The Jews who ran MGM, Warner Bros. et. al. wouldn't touch it with th proverbial ten-foot pole. Louis B. Mayer was devoted to "passing," raising his daughters in faux shiksa splendor. Andy Hardy was his proudest achievement because he was goy triumphant. It made Rabbi Manin proud.

X. Trapnel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DavidEhrenstein said...

Typo: that shoudl have been Rabbi Magnin.

Laura Z. Hobson's approach to anti-semitism is the same as the one she late took on gay rights in Consenting Adult. Instead of concentrating on the actually affected party (ie. the Jews, ie. John Garfield) they're shunted off to the side while the problems of "sensitive" goys take center stage.

In Consenting Adult, rather than her gay son, the book is about Laura. It was turned into a rather nice (though bland) made-for-tv movie starring (of all people) Marlo Thomas.

Tom Block said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Block said...

The thing I hate about "Gentleman's" is Peck still chasing after McGuire despite her being such a shit to him. When he runs to her at the end, I hated him even more than I hated her. (And despite her being Dorothy McGuire. I swear she's like an avatar of my bete noire Zellweger who's taunting me all the way from the '40s.)

"He Ran All the Way Home" is completely startling for its first 10-15 minutes, up until the swimming pool scene or a little after. Garfield is amazing all the way through it, to the point where there are places where he's no longer the bridge between old and modern, he's just flat-out modern in his directness and power. But the movie settles down and becomes flat and familiar in the household scenes, especially if taken in with a lot of other noir. (Those scenes don't make much sense either. Garfield lets the family come and go while ostensibly holding them hostage, and all of them--including the father who's family is imperiled and the kid--keep their traps shut while Garfield and Winters work out the kinks in their relationship? Right! But that director, John Berry, also made that little short about the Hollywood Ten that's on the Criterion "Spartacus" disc. It's a truly numbing experience, even at 10 minutes long, with Trumbo, Maltz, et al. blowing pipe smoke at the camera and intoning things like, "The liberties we're talking about are EVERYBODY'S liberties." Didn't matter how innocuous it was, it was enough to get Berry blacklisted too, and it's too bad. I have no idea if he ever would've risen to the level of a Reed or Dassin, whose work the opening of "He Ran" puts me in mind of, but I DO know that opening 10 minutes is a killer.

DavidEhrenstein said...

John Berry is a seriously negelected talent. I adore Casbah, his musical version of Pepe le Moko (with Tony Martin singing a great Harold Arlen score) and Claudine ( a lovely African-American romance made right in the middle of the Blackspolitation era.) He also appeared with Delphine Seyrig in Chantal Ackerman's musical The Golden 80s. His last film (released posthumously) was an adaptation of Athol Fugard's Boesman and Lena starring Danny Glover and Angela Bassett.

(His son Dennis appeared in Rivette's L'Amour Fou, went on to direct films in France and was married to Jean Seberg, and later Anna Karina.)

Tom Block said...

Have you seen Thom Andersen/Noel Burch's "Red Hollywood", David? Lot of good stuff there (and some mentions of Berry, too).

X. Trapnel said...

John Berry's best film is the utterly beguiling From This Day Forward (Joan F. never more enchanting, even when her NY accent falters), an honest to god proletarian romance with no condescension and real Bronx flavor (Highbridge's only film appearance as far as I know, though we don't see the great tower) and urban magic, a little like Saturday's Children before it turns melodramatic.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Haven't seen it as yet. That's a very rich period. Some of the best, most incisive films about this country were made in the shadow of the blacklist: Force of Evil, He Ran All The Way, Ulmer's Ruthless (scripted by an uncredited Alvah Bessie), Cy Endfield's Try and Stop Me and Losey's M and The Big Night.

Yojimboen said...

"From This Day Forward (Joan F. never more enchanting..."

Yeah, right, say that again after you've seen The Constant Nymph.

X. Trapnel said...

Tom Block is right about how He Ran All the Way goes in and out of focus and ultimatelty slacks off after the beginning (with a TERRIFYING Gladys George who makes Medea seem like Stella Dallas), but Garfield is so great throughout.

From This Day Forward is not on DVD but has occasionally surfaced on TCM.

X. Trapnel said...

Good point Y, but it's like asking the happily unanswerable question who's more enchanting, Nicole de Cortillon or Louise de...

Yojimboen said...

(Still playing catch-up.)

Between Two Worlds is quite sweet – if one can say a film about mass death is sweet. But there is a warmth and fuzziness cocooning the whole affair, encouraged mostly I think (saving the presence of Sydney Greenstreet) by Edmund Gwenn, an actor who always seemed to me cloaked in a cotton wool carapace of supernatural origin (Miracle on 34th St.; Them; The Trouble With Harry etc.).

It’s an interestingly strange script, a proto-Ship of Fools cruising down the River Styx; every character seems to hover several inches off the deck, reciting his or her dialog in ethereal tones, talking not at their companions, but just slightly past them, as if every pithy aphorism and epithet is aimed straight for posterity.

Garfield is splendid as the hipster, the first passenger to guess the true state of affairs (they’re all dead), but Faye Emerson is closing on him fast as his distaff counterpart. The cast is terrific: Greenstreet; the two Georges, Tobias & Coulouris; and Sara Allgood with a lovely surprise up her worn sleeve. Paul Henreid is a little wimpy and Ms Parker a touch syrupy for my taste, but not offensively.

Korngold’s score is only wonderful – okay, occasionally the dialog gets in the way; but if you listen closely, his opening theme contains an undertone of joyous resolution, a subtle Korngoldian hint at the possibility of a happy ending.

What a lovely film.

Tom Block said...

>Some of the best, most incisive films about this country were made in the shadow of the blacklist...

"In a Lonely Place"--one of the great things about it is the inchoate anxiety swirling just beneath the surface of Dix's lifestyle. (And, man, Frank Lovejoy was a strange one. He's fine in "Lonely Place" but in "Try and Get Me!", where he's the star of the damn movie, he looks totally lobotomized. Luckily for him Lloyd Bridges does enough acting for the both of them.)

Yojimboen said...

To make her husband director Nick Ray jealous, Gloria Grahame openly flirted (some say more) with Frank Lovejoy on the set of In a Lonely Place. I unashamedly confess that whenever I hear the title I can only think of GG nude under the silk sheets on the set; also to annoy Ray. Of course the kicker – beyond annoyance - was when she seduced Ray’s 17 yr-old son (her stepson); but she made an ‘honest’ boy of him later by marrying him.

Karen said...

Yesterday I let my DVR serve up The Duke is Tops, Lena Horne's film debut. Robert Osborne, in his introductory eulogy for Horne, mentioned that she was an avid TCM watcher, and often contacted them with screening recommendations. The one Horne exhortation Osborne mentioned? She was always asking them to show more John Garfield films.

The Siren said...

Oh Karen I LOVE it.

Karen said...

Nice, right? It seems that's why they screened The Fallen Sparrow on Lena Horne day: one last chance to honor her request.

X. Trapnel said...

Y, the immediate source material for BTW is Sutton Vane's play Outward Bound (don't recall if this was listed in the credits) a big hit in post-Great War England when many took a header into occultism, dotty fantasy, escapism (potent examples include the huge popularity of Barrie and Margaret Kennedy's The Constant Nymph [Peter Pan for grown men]). The stage craft and mood are beholden to the forgotten man of modernist drama Maurice Maeterlinck. His plays are all composed of thw whispery half-said, non-realist declamation, non-communication, a suggestive aura of terror, all happening on the borderlands between life and death. A big influence on Beckett, I think and the Maeterlinck mood is present throughout Korngold's great opera Die Tote Stadt (based on the eerie novel Bruges la Morte by M's friend Georges Rodenbach. I'm convinced Hitchcock knew it; lots in common with Vertigo.) No wonder BTW was his favorite among his scores.

Quilty, in Lolita, is Nabokov's smack at Maeterlinck who he despised.

Harald said...

In the run-up to the third race of the Triple Crown, just wanted to pay tribute to the undersung Ms Maureen O' Sullivan, in, of course, Day at the Races. Not a classy picture, perhaps---but not a classic?

Harald said...

In the run-up to the third race of the Triple Crown, just wanted to pay tribute to the undersung Ms Maureen O' Sullivan, in, of course, Day at the Races. Not a classy picture, perhaps---but not a classic?

Kevyn Knox said...

Yea!!! Where is Garfield's damned boxset anyway!!?