John Garfield is in top form in this uncompromising crime drama. Sadly, it was to be his last movie performance before his death at age 39. Here, Garfield plays a tough, none-too-bright thug who becomes involved in a payroll robbery planned by the scheming Lloyd. During the heist,
Garfield and Lloyd panic, causing both Lloyd and a guard to be wounded. Garfield flees with the money and takes refuge at a swimming pool, where he befriends Winters, who takes him home with her. When her family (Royle, Ford, and Hyatt) goes out to a movie, Garfield lingers with Winters; later,
when the relatives return to find him still there, Garfield experiences another panicky moment and pulls a gun, saying he will stay until the morning. Planning to leave with Winters, he orders her father, Ford, to arrange for a car. Ford, however, has no intention of letting Garfield run away with
his daughter--especially since the wounded guard has died and Garfield is now wanted for murder--and plans to shoot the criminal. The next morning, after Garfield has alternately tried to terrorize and attempted to befriend the family, the thief leaves their seedy apartment with Winters. But once
on the street, where Ford waits to shoot Garfield, it is Winters who chooses between father and lover. She shoots Garfield down in the gutter.
The dynamic Garfield is riveting in his performance as the hunted thief, and Winters is also fine as his confused conquest, a lonely young woman reaching out for love in her small, hopeless world. Wallace Ford, as her protective father, and Selena Royle, as the mother who struggles to keep her
family alive, are both wonderful, and Bobby Hyatt, as the young boy who first admires and then hates interloper Garfield, gives a startling, intense performance. Director John Berry makes much out of his low budget and of his settings, limited by the DESPERATE HOURS-style captive family theme.
Garfield's character, comparable to Sterling Hayden's hooligan in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950), bears a schematic resemblance to his personality in real life. Estranged from both Hollywood, where he became famous, and the Group Theatre in New York, where he learned his craft, Garfield was a man who
lived in two worlds, but was at home in neither.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: John Garfield is in top form in this uncompromising crime drama. Sadly, it was to be his last movie performance before his death at age 39. Here, Garfield plays a tough, none-too-bright thug who becomes involved in a payroll robbery planned by the scheming… (more)