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The John Garfield Story (2003)

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 ... Herself
Joseph Bernard ... Himself (as Joe Bernard)
... Herself
... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
... Herself
... Himself
... Himself
... Herself
... Himself
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 <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

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 Saturday's Children (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

A Daughter's View
11 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

Narrated by his daughter Julie, this film offers the standard take on John Garfield: great actor, social activist, victim of HUAC. Clips from many of his performances are shown, including some we don't see every day on TCM. Pretty much an adoring portrait, although there are a few references to Garfield's darker side.

Was he a great actor? He was always quite good, but he had his limitations. He was generally better in film noir than the great outdoors and often stronger in supporting roles than in leads. The film makes an argument that Warner's frequently misused him, but he was hardly unique in this regard. In any case, he did some of his best work there (e.g.,"Pride of the Marines") before free lancing in the late 40s.

Was he an activist? Yes, though not any more so than a number of people and probably less than some. His roots may have been in the Group Theater, but even there the real emphasis was on acting, not activism. The film doesn't spend too much time on this side of his life, which is just as well, though the leftist actors who are interviewed clearly warm to this theme and to the concept of his martyrdom.

For all the talk about HUAC and blacklisting (Joe Bernard states flatly "the Committee killed him"), Garfield's acting career was at most only half dead when he died at 39. He'd just been on Broadway in "Golden Boy" and surely could have made a good living on the stage, which was always his first love.

As for his film career, that was probably on the skids anyway by 1952. Noir and social realism were played out. Hollywood was entering a white bread era and Garfield's urban/ethnic grittiness didn't fit into a landscape dominated by Westerns, Biblical epics, Technicolor musicals, and romantic comedies. Had he lived he surely would have made a big comeback in the 60s and 70s. It's not hard to imagine him as Sol Nazerman or Hyman Roth, but it wasn't in the cards.

In his last film, titled ironically "He Ran All the Way", he was allowed very little running. Rheumatic fever in the early 30s had damaged his heart and there may have been congenital problems as well (his son died of a heart attack at 41). Very likely he had been dying for years.

Recommended primarily for Garfield's fans or for those completely unacquainted with his work. Others will find it little more than routine.

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