The Breaking Point (1950)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 30, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Truer to its Ernest Hemingway source than the previous film version, The Breaking Point is a sadly neglected little gem that deserves to be wider known. It's not a great film, but it's an effecting and often powerful piece of cinema that benefits greatly from both John Garfield's sterling lead performance and Michael Curtiz's assured and imaginative direction. Not that the screenplay isn't worth mentioning, for it does a fine job of getting to the essence of the Hemingway story and transferring one of his flawed, haunted heroes quite effectively to the screen. It simply has a few bumps in it along the way, a few stretches of dialogue that miss the mark. But it also allows director Curtiz to shoot n emotionala, memorable closing sequence that juxtaposes the "happy" ending of the lead character's with the image of a now-orphaned child alone on the waterfront, searching for the father who won't be returning to him. Curtiz is also in exceptional form in the climactic sequence in which Garfield gets the best of gangsters while at sea. Garfield is simply sensational, giving a bravura performance that still has room for beautifully nuanced moments, creating a living, breathing character that practically leaps from the screen. There's also excellent support from Patricia Neal and Phyllis Thaxter, and Juano Hernandez takes advantage of the then-rare chance for a minority actor to play a real character and delivers a beautiful performance.