The Breaking Point

This 1950 film noir crime drama, stars John Garfield (as Harry Morgan) and Patricia Neal (as Leona Charles) that we rate Worth the Search.  Eddie Muller (Noir Alley) recommended it, and we found it on TCM.  Directed by Michael Curitz, this is a story about a moral charter boat captain (Harry) who falls prey to flirtatious Leona and the lure of illegal activities to keep up payments on his boat. Neither Lucy, Harry’s wife (played by Phyllis Thaxter), nor his first mate, Wes (played by Juano Hernandez) can deter Harry from the illegal path of activities he recklessly pursues. The height of the film’s suspense involves Harry helping a gang of crooks escape, after they’ve pulled off a racetrack heist, by using his fishing boat to get them away from authorities.  In the end, Harry finds his moral compass and successfully overcomes the criminals he was hired to help escape; sadly, his friend and first mate does not survive this final battle and Harry is badly wounded.  As his boat is met by police and paramedics, Harry is told he will die unless he agrees to amputation of his arm.  Lucy rushes to his side, and pleads with him to give up his arm but he refuses.   After Harry reaffirms his love to Lucy he closes his eyes and the film fades to the final scene.  (Saddest final scene ever: Wes’s little boy is left standing on the dock, looking around for a father that will never come home.)  Adapted from a book (To Have and Have Not) by Hemingway, this film is said to be both Hemingway’s and Garfield’s favorite film.  When you see it, perhaps you will agree that the story and the actors’ portrayal of the characters are the reason why it may be so.

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