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 Post subject: 889 The Breaking Point
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 4:45 pm 
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The Breaking Point

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Michael Curtiz brings a master skipper's hand to the helm of this thriller, Hollywood's second crack at Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. John Garfield stars as Harry Morgan, an honest charter-boat captain who, facing hard times, takes on dangerous cargo to save his boat, support his family, and preserve his dignity. Left in the lurch by a freeloading passenger, Harry starts to entertain the criminal propositions of a sleazy lawyer (Wallace Ford), as well as the playful come-ons of a cheeky blonde (Patricia Neal), making a series of compromises that stretch his morality—and his marriage—farther than he'll admit. Hewing closer to Hemingway's novel than Howard Hawks's Bogart-Bacall vehicle, The Breaking Point charts a course through daylight noir and working-class tragedy, guided by Curtiz's effortless visual fluency and a stoic, career-capping performance from Garfield.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with biographer and film historian Alan K. Rode (Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film)
• New piece featuring actor and acting instructor Julie Garfield speaking about her father, actor John Garfield
• New video essay by filmmakers Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos, analyzing Curtiz's directorial techniques
• Excerpts from a 1962 episode of the Today show showing contents of the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida, including items related to To Have and Have Not, the novel on which The Breaking Point is based
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 4:56 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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As per our Mildred Pierce discussion, this time several of the extras are Curtiz-specific!


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 8:39 pm 
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Also, nice to have Garfield in the Collection.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 1:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 10:34 pm
Garfield, eh? So that's why they delayed the announcement from Monday to Tuesday.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 1:32 pm 
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I laughed.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
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Hey, I like Jim Davis too.


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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 7:30 pm 
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NY Times 1950 review by Bosley Crowther


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:37 pm 
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Beaver.... This is sweet looking


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:21 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Finally got around to watching this and it is a terrific noir— it’s nice to see Criterion pick a non-canonical work for one of their WB chits. John Garfield gives the most typically John Garfield perf imaginable as the stubborn fishing captain who finds himself agreeing to worse and worse ideas to get his head above water. Patricia Neal is fine in an unchallenging role as the eternal coquette, but I think the film’s MVP is Phyllis Thaxter as Garfield’s suffering wife. There’s something sad and often pathetic in her own domestic life, which neatly parallels the struggles her husband is going through as she does what she can against her own inescapable doom with her marriage, and Thaxter manages a tricky performance that somehow never turns to pap.

Above all, though, this is a great example of WB's house style and how skillful and industrious everyone involved was at filming in confined spaces— 75% of the film is either on the boat or in Garfield’s cramped house. Curtiz' frequent cinematographer Ted McCord (perhaps best known for his work on Jean Negulesco's Johnny Belinda-- now there's a WB title Criterion should rescue) and the rest of the crew masterfully use these restricted spaces to their advantage with limited edits and beautiful, gliding camera movements as we the audience become trapped like our characters. A familiar idea and approach, but one done exceptionally well here.

Two more things: One, the final shot (the third such image, calling to mind the sage wisdom of screenwriting manuals everywhere) is tremendous in how it undermines even the uneasy “happy” ending we get here by calling attention to the collateral damage involved. And two, on a brighter note, for those playing the Noir Drinking Game from our Noir List Project, Garfield orders BOTH of these mammoth beers for himself!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:32 pm 
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Domino, thanks for that. I'm really looking forward to seeing this. I will pick it up on a blind buy. Unless I see it on TCM.
BTW... Speaking of TCM, To Have and Have Not is on right now. How do you compare the versions?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:23 am 
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Other than a few narrative details, the movies couldn't be more different. I haven't read the Hemingway source but I greatly preferred this version/film. I think anyone who enjoys a good film noir will get their money's worth here and can safely pick up sight-unseen


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:08 pm 
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Quote:
is tremendous in how it undermines even the uneasy “happy” ending we get here by calling attention to the collateral damage involved


I think this packs a double punch, by also calling attention to the way that African-American characters in Hollywood films were routinely treated as disposable and/or pushed to (or left at) the margins. Just when it seems The Breaking Point will participate in that treatment, it instead bares the device, so to speak. It kind of does in miniature what the plot of Sirk's Imitation of Life does much more grandly and explicitly. I have to wonder how much of Garfield's leftism is evident here, esp. in combo with the unusually prominent African-American characters in such films as Body and Soul. Maybe some of the bonus features here get into this...?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:23 pm 
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Wow. Just watched this. One of the most devastating endings for a Noir that I've ever seen, or any film for that matter. That last shot was crushing and makes as much of a statement about it's time as Harry Morgan's first attempt to make shady money. I really loved this. And I know Curtiz doesn't get his due from the academics but he is one of my favorites. I watched the video essay by Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou analyzing Curtiz’s methods, which really highlights Curtiz's greatness imo.

I'm thrilled that Criterion released this. What a little gem of a discovery from old hollywood to give such a wonderful release. Kudos CC.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:14 am 
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I must have overlooked this being announced. Would be nice to if they release it in the UK.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:47 am 
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bluray.com....the only thing I would add is a featurette or doc should've been included on Hemingway.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am
I know, it's just impossible to find anything out about that guy.


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