Reviews

2 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Garfield's best!
13 July 2001
This former Leatherneck appreciates more and more through the years John Garfield's gut-wrenching performance in the docu-drama PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945), the true story of war hero Al Schmid who was blinded in combat on Guadalcanal by a Jap grenade. The picture, released a year before BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, was the first movie to deal in depth with the problems faced by returning vets. Scripted by Albert Maltz, who would eventually be jailed as one of the Hollywood 10, the film would catch major flack from Red-baiters at decade's end because of its politically-charged dialogue in one scene set in a veterans hospital, during which embittered soldiers forcefully voice both their hopes in and suspicions of a post-war society.

The three layers of plotline dramatize an accurate microcosm of American life during a pivotal time period. PRIDE explores in its pre-war first part Garfield's lower-class, working-man roots as only he could portray urban struggles and dreams during the Great Depression. The harrowing middle portion, claustrophobically confined to a cramped and stinking Pacific island foxhole (shared with Dane Clark and Anthony Caruso to form a 3-man machine gun team), graphically captures the fears and horrors of war as few films have.

But it is this citizen/soldier's readjustment in the final sequences, aided by compassionate nurse Rosemary deCamp and home-town fiancee Eleanor Parker (in a performance worthy of a Supporting Oscar nomination) that really packs an emotional wallop. Doubting his self-worth, lost in a sightless world (his post-operative cry of "Why don't God strike me dead!" is chilling), and struggling to comprehend the difference between love and pity, Garfield's perfectly modulated performance combines all the elements of his unique persona (rebellious icon, tough guy, romantic leading man, idealistic spokesman).

Given his devotion throughout the war years to the Hollywood Canteen that he and Bette Davis created, the story must have been very close to his heart. This may be his finest screen role in a career filled with meaningful performances.
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Solid Noir Entry
30 April 2000
Effective early postwar Noir, with tough New York shamus Mark Stevens desperate to prove his innocence (with the help of loyal secretary Lucille Ball) in one of movies' best frameups. Clifton Webb brilliantly portraying another of his sicko psychos, society suave on the outside, rotten to the core on the inside. Usually genial hulk William Bendix steals the show as the muscle "White Suit." Film has the look and the attitude of the best of the Noirs.
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