Thursday, February 7, 2013
HE RAN ALL THE WAY: THE LIFE OF JOHN GARFIELD
This excellent biography of Julie [John] Garfield examines the actor's early life, his stage work, his important and less important film roles, and his early death, no doubt aggravated by the stress caused by his being considered a communist. The author argues convincingly that Garfield was the movie's first true anti-hero, and discusses how he got typecast early on but managed to deliver some fine performances in spite of it. The studios didn't always know how to make the most of Garfield's talent. Nott looks at Garfield's work in such films as The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Breaking Point, and Body and Soul, providing lots of behind-the scenes details and interviews. He also looks at Garfield's long marriage, his many extra-marital affairs, and his relationships with such as playwright Clifford Odets, who wrote Golden Boy for the actor [who, unfortunately, didn't get to play it on Broadway or in the movies]. Nott is clearly admiring of Garfield but is also scrupulously honest, admitting that his work in certain pictures, say the stinker Between Two Worlds, might have been a bit below-par. So is it true that John Garfield had an affair with actress Maria Ouspenskaya? Apparently not, or this book would undoubtedly have uncovered it. [Garfield did study with the gyspy woman from The Wolfman, however.]
Verdict: Excellent, scrupulously researched biography. ****.