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The Breaking Point (1950)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 6 October 1950 (USA)
2:18 | Trailer
An otherwise moral captain of a charter boat becomes financially strapped and is drawn into illegal activities in order to keep up payments on his boat.


Michael Curtiz


Ranald MacDougall (screen play), Ernest Hemingway (story)





Complete credited cast:
John Garfield ... Harry Morgan
Patricia Neal ... Leona Charles
Phyllis Thaxter ... Lucy Morgan
Juano Hernandez ... Wesley Park
Wallace Ford ... F.R. Duncan
Edmon Ryan ... Rogers
Ralph Dumke ... Hannagan
Guy Thomajan ... Danny
William Campbell ... Concho
Sherry Jackson ... Amy Morgan
Donna Jo Boyce Donna Jo Boyce ... Connie Morgan
Victor Sen Yung ... Mr. Sing


Based out of Newport, California, Harry Morgan, a former naval officer during the war, is struggling to make ends meet operating a boat charter, primarily fishing trips locally and to/from Mexico, with his friend Wesley Park more often than not by his side as his first mate. Harry was hoping at this point in his life that he would have had a fleet of boats, but instead he is already behind in payments on the one and only, the Sea Queen. Despite the loving and devoted relationship he has with his wife Lucy Morgan, the two who have two adolescent daughters, Amy and Connie, the boat is the one sore point in their marriage, Lucy often encouraging him to get more stable work, such as with her uncle on a lettuce farm, despite she knowing that the sea is the only life he knows and loves. On his and Wesley's latest multi-day fishing charter to Mexico, Harry gets stranded with no money to get him, Wesley and the Sea Queen back to the US. Running into shyster American lawyer F.R. Duncan, Harry,... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A guy who had nothing to sell but guts! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to TCM's Eddie Muller, John Garfield thought this was his best performance and that it was the film of which he was most proud. See more »


When she first steps onto the boat, Patricia Neal's voice is heard saying "we're off to sunny Mexico," but her lips aren't moving. See more »


Harry Morgan: [to Lucy] I get teed off sometimes. No sooner do I get my head above water than somebody pushes me down again!
See more »


Referenced in Watching the Detectives (2007) See more »


I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Played at the dockside bar
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User Reviews

Brilliant Garfield performance, his second-last
5 October 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

With the Depression, the so-called "upper class," the subject of so many plays and films, began to fade and be replaced by the work of playwrights such as Clifford Odets.

John Garfield was the type of leading man who came out of that kind of working man play -- more rugged than romantic, more blue collar than white collar, more at home in a leather jacket than a tuxedo. That leading man type would peak post-war with the likes of Dean, Brando, Steiger, Newman, McQueen, and others. But their predecessor was John Garfield.

Here he stars in his second-last film, as he would soon be blacklisted -- it's "The Breaking Point," based on the Hemingway novel "To Have and Have Not," but not really like the Bogart-Bacall film, which borrowed the title.

In "The Breaking Point," Garfield plays Harry Morgan, who runs a charter boat in California. He has a wife, Lucy (Phyllis Thaxter) and two daughters (Sherry Jackson, Donna Jo Boyce). Times are tough (the original novel took place during the Depression) and Harry is having trouble making enough money to pay off his boat and raise his family.

Lucy wishes her husband would work for his father on his lettuce farm in Salinas, but Harry says all he knows is boats.

Because he needs money, Harry agrees to carry out a shady deal, transporting Chinese to the United States. But when he is cheated out of most of his money, he returns the men where he picked them up. However, someone rats on him and he nearly loses his boat.

When the boat's owner threatens to take the boat for nonpayment, Harry agrees to another shady deal; this one proves more dangerous.

Very intense film which also stars Juano Hernandez, who was wonderful in so many films until his death in 1970; Patricia Neal in her "babe" days, as a former boat passenger who is attracted to Harry; and Wallace Ford, as a foolish man involved in nefarious schemes. William Campbell, whose big claim to fame was that he was married to JFK's girlfriend Judith Exton, plays a low-level criminal.

John Garfield gives a brilliant performance as a stubborn, intense, desperate man who doesn't know where to turn. His last movie, He Ran All the Way, was a B movie and a clear indication that, thanks to the Communist witch hunt, he was on his way out. He died two years later.

Beautifully directed by Michael Curtiz, the end of the movie is especially poignant.

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English | Spanish | Cantonese

Release Date:

6 October 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

To Have and Have Not See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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