Above we have John Garfield (left) in a noteworthy role. He may have won a best actor Oscar nomination for 1947’s Body and Soul, but we ask you — does he look like a credible boxer?
In our book only Robert Ryan (who had personal experience inside a ring) in 1949’s The Set-Up and, more recently, Robert DeNiro in 1980’s Raging Bull have pulled off the feat of really resembling actual pugilists. You can fully believe that they are equipped to slug it out.
To be fair, Garfield delivers a solid performance in Body and Soul, one of the movies for which he is most remembered. He is cast opposite Lilli Palmer, one of the strangest of pairings. Garfield was considered an exemplar of rugged American masculinity. She is the quintessential hot-house European.
Garfield’s earthy acting style is said to have inspired younger actors such as Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and even James Dean. We’ll buy into this, although we add that all four actors are quiet different. Only Brando in his Stanley Kowalski period could have played a physically convincing boxer.
Ok, now to the answers to our John Garfield Quiz. To reviewe the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Garfield was born (c) Jacob Julius Garfinkle on New York’s Lower East Side in 1913.
2) Answer: As mentioned above, Garfield was nominated in the best actor category for Body and Soul. But he was also nominated in the best supporting actor category for (a) his very first movie role in 1938’s Four Daughters. He plays a brooding, young suitor in the Michael Curtiz romance.
3) Answer: a) True, we think (see intro above).
4) Answer: Garfield was never a member of the Communist Party but his unabashed left wing political views resulted in his being called in 1951 before the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee investigating so-called subversion in Hollywood. Garfield refused to “name names,” and the whole mess dented what was left of his short career. He died a year later of a massive heart attack at age 39.
5) Answer: Garfield was considered as the first choice for the leads in All About Eve (the Gary Merrill part), On the Waterfront (the Brando part) and The Man With The Golden Arm (the Frank Sinatra part). He was also considered as the first choice for the Broadway stage role of Stanley Kowalski role in A Streetcar Named Desire. Brando won the part, and triumphed in the subsequent movie version. Whatever original casting intentions were, it should be noted that Garfield’s premature death came two years before Waterfront was made, and three years before Otto Preminger made The Man With The Golden Arm.