After expatriate American jockey Danny Arnold double-crosses ruthless gambler Louis Bork, he flees Italy with his adoring son Joe, who isn't aware of his father's lies and corruption. While in France he begins a relationship with a beautiful French nightclub singer and buys a problematic racehorse that no one seems to be able to train. After Joe suggests that the horse has a future as a jumper, Danny converts him to the steeplechase and turns him into a consistent winner. When Bork shows up and tells him he must lose the big race or die, Danny must weigh his life against his son's faith that he has become a man of honor. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[Realizing that Bork has caught up to him]
What took you so long?
What did it all come to? All this stuff of going to Nice and the tickets you bought to South America and later sold? What did it get you, huh? A month of life? Yes, that's something! And paying me back in francs instead of lire!
And you came up here just to tell me that?
No, Danny Boy, I'm here on business, of course, with pleasure as a sideline. Taking care of you will be my pleasure. I always take care of sidelines.
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I think that if John Garfield had lived he might have gone abroad as did so many of his peers did in the McCarthy era and such projects as Under My Skin might have had followups. The film is based on an Ernest Hemingway story about an exiled jockey living in Europe with his son, father and son being played by Garfield and Orley Lindgren.
It might have started out as a Hemingway story, but a seasoned film buff will recognize bits from Broadway Bill/Riding High, National Velvet, and The Champ. Garfield and Lindgren have to beat it out of Italy as he crosses up gangster Luther Adler and they flee to Paris. Where they take up with songstress Michelline Prelle and look for work, but Adler follows them there with an offer he thinks they can't refuse.
The shame and stigma for Garfield having been a cooperating witness at the HUAC hearings is roughly parallel to his role as a crooked jockey. Under My Skin is as much an explanation film for Garfield as On The Waterfront was for Elia Kazan. I think there's more Garfield/Jean Negulesco the director than Hemingway in this, Hemingway was never as sentimental as this film is.
Still it's not a bad one and I think Garfield may have done more projects like this had he lived.
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