Thursday, December 27, 2012
BODY AND SOUL
Charley (John Garfield) seeks a way out of his hopeless poverty and decides to become a professional boxer. His mother (Anne Revere) is against the whole notion, and she watches helplessly as his success goes to his head. He has a very supportive girlfriend, Peg (Lilli Palmer), but dallies with the more overtly sexy gold digger, Alice (Hazel Brooks). A turning point comes when Charley has a fight with Ben Chaplin (Canada Lee), unaware that the man has a blood clot in his brain. One could argue that the film is at times simplistic and employs the usual boxer cliches, but it's so well done on every level that it scarcely seems to matter. Garfield, Palmer, and Anne Revere [one of her best roles] are simply excellent, and there is also some fine work from Canada Lee, Joseph Pevney (as Charley's friend and manager), James Burke as Ben's manager, William Conrad as fight promoter Quinn, and Lloyd Goff/Gough as Roberts, a much more loathsome version of Quinn. Introduced in this film after having bit parts in several movies, Hazel Brooks is quite arresting, but although she lived for many years afterward, she retired from acting in the mid-fifties after having only a very few credits. James Wong Howe is cinematographer and Hugo Friedhofer provides a very interesting score.
Verdict: Forget Raging Bull -- this is the real deal. ***1/2.