powered by AFI
"What was wonderful about John Garfield's acting was that you felt his story was your story," says Danny Glover in The John Garfield Story (2003), a TCM original documentary narrated by the star's daughter, Julie Garfield, and produced and written by veteran documentarians Joan Kramer and David Heeley, who also directs the documentary. Among other admiring contemporary actors interviewed in this look at Garfield's all-too-brief life and career are Joanne Woodward, Richard Dreyfuss, Lee Grant and Norman Lloyd. Co-stars who recall working with Garfield include Hume Cronyn (The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946) and Patricia Neal (The Breaking Point, 1950).
The documentary traces Garfield's rise from a tough childhood on New York's Lower East Side through his vagabond youth and apprenticeship with the renowned Group Theatre to his Oscar®-nominated breakthrough as a film star in Four Daughters (1938). A forerunner to such tough-yet-sensitive rebels as Marlon Brando and James Dean, Garfield displayed what Lee Grant calls his "smoldering, somber, troubled street-guy kind of presence" in such hard-hitting films as Humoresque (1946) and Force of Evil (1948).
Garfield died prematurely at age 39 in 1952, a victim of a weak heart and, according to some of the documentary's interviewees, the stress of his unofficial blacklisting during the witch-hunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Director: David Heeley
BW & C-60m.
by Roger Fristoe