I’m catching up in the films of John Garfield and recently watched EAST OF THE RIVER and OUT OF THE FOG, from 1940 and 1941. By this time, John, at the age of 28, had already made 9 films and was gaining in experience and developing a screen persona which started as the fast talking hoodlum of the kind Warners loved and developed into a fully fledged star capable of many different roles.
I have to say neither film impressed me greatly but that doesn’t take away from Garfield’s charisma.
In EAST OF THE RIVER, John is the tear- away son of hardworking Marjorie Rambeau ( whom I didn’t recognise under all the make-up and Italian accent!). Marjorie runs a small restaurant and she ends up taking in the young Garfield’s friend, William Lundigan and raising him as her own.
As they grow up, predictably, Lundigan is the good son and Garfield lands up in prison. When he is released, his girlfriend, Brenda Marshall is waiting for him.
When he and Brenda go back to his childhood home, Brenda begins to change as she falls for Lundigan.(So of course, she wears more demure clothes and less make-up!)
Best scene in the film lasts for about 5 minutes and Garfield doesn’t say a word – it is Marjorie Rambeau’s scene as she tells him what she thinks of him in no uncertain terms, ending with,”Dont never call me mama no more.”
OUT OF THE FOG has John as a cold, calculating gangster who runs a protection racket. Ida Lupino falls for him even though he is vicious with her father, Thomas Mitchell.
Shame to see Aline MacMahon in the tiny part of Mitchell’s shrewish wife. Total waste of a fine actress.
Eddie Albert is Ida’s patient boyfriend.
Best parts go to Mitchell and John Qualen as a couple of old friends who share a small fishing boat which is their escape from the drudgery of their lives. They keep talking about renting a boat and going to Cuba.
Garfield’s character is so one-dimensional, with no redeeming features, it says a lot for the actor that you remember his performance.