The John Garfield Story (2003)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary, Biography  |  3 February 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 168 users  
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This documentary, aired on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable network, looks at the life and career of John Garfield, whose career was cut short when he died at age 39. His difficult ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Julie Garfield ...
Narrator / Herself
Ellen Adler ...
Joseph Bernard ...
Himself (as Joe Bernard)
Phoebe Brand ...
Robert Sklar ...
Himself - Author / Film Historian


This documentary, aired on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable network, looks at the life and career of John Garfield, whose career was cut short when he died at age 39. His difficult childhood in the rough neighborhoods of New York City provided the perfect background for the tough-guy roles he would play on both stage and screen. Written by David Glagovsky <>

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3 February 2003 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included in Warner Home Video's 2004 DVD release of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). See more »


In her opening narration of this documentary, Julie Garfield refers to "Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee". As a senator (and someone who had never been a member of the House of Representatives), McCarthy did not serve and could never have served on HUAC. Indeed, Ms. Garfield's very words make no sense, as senators cannot be members of House committees (or vice versa). Moreover, McCarthy had nothing whatsoever to do with the investigations into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood or the subsequent blacklist. McCarthy, in the Senate, concerned himself almost entirely with alleged subversives in government and related institutions, but he never got involved with Hollywood or the entertainment industry, which was the exclusive preserve of HUAC - 'though McCarthy certainly approved of what that committee was doing. See more »

Crazy Credits

As the credits roll on the right side of the screen, the left side shows unidentified film clips from Garfield's movies while the interviewees make additional comments. The final frame shows Garfield's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. See more »


Features Hollywood Canteen (1944) See more »

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User Reviews

An Adoring Mythological Biography of John Garfield
6 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is an adoring, mythological biography of John Garfield that offers little insight into the real man, his psychological complexities or his turbulent personal and political relationships that led to his downfall and his death. For example, one of its standard boilerplate story lines is that Warner's misused Garfield. This same tired story-line is used over and over in biographies of Bogart, Cagney, Davis, Robinson, Muni, Flynn, and dozen of other actors who worked for Warners. There is nothing original or insightful into these old half-truths.

The fact is that actors are not necessarily the best judge of the materials they should be in. The fact is that the Warners did necessarily misuse its actors. Proof that Warners was not out of touch is that it managed to make a wealth of memorable classic films in the 1930's and 1940's, starring these so-called misused actors. If one accepts the story line, then one must presume that the studio made these films by accident.

Often the point of using this trite story line in a biography is to make the actor a proletarian victim of the more powerful capitalistic forces in the studio and therefore, someone who does not have control over his destiny, or his fate, or who is not responsible for the decisions that he or she makes. That would seem to be the case in this simplified love poem to Julie Garfield.

In this documentary, one does not get the real story of why Garfield lost his prize role in Golden Boy to Luther Alder, but instead a sugar coated one. The real story is much more interesting and pivotal in the career of Garfield, and had it been told would have made an much more interesting and meaningful biography. It would, however, have exposed much of what was covered-up in this documentary, and have undermined the final verdict of it, namely, John Garfield was a victim.

The outright deceits of this documentary are too numerous to comment upon here, especially those of James Cromwell, who appears as a snotty self-appointed expert on a subject that is obviously miles over his head, nor does it bring up the fact that John Garfield perjured himself when he testified before the House Committee, and that is why he found himself in the deep muddy. His egregious perjuries had little to do with his alleged refusal to name names. Of course, these factoids would undermine the mythologizing that this documentary sets out to achieve.

4 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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