Patricia Neal

The Breaking Point (1950)

The Breaking Point 1950

Harry Morgan (John Garfield) dreams of running a successful fishing boat rental business, complete with a whole fleet of boats. Currently, he only owns one boat and is barely making enough money to make the payments on it and take care of his wife Lucy (Phyllis Thaxter) and their two daughters. It’s putting a terrible strain on Harry and Lucy’s marriage and Lucy desperately wants him to give up this idea and go work on his father’s farm, but he refuses.

One day, Harry is hired to take Hannagan (Ralph Dumke) and his girlfriend Leona (Patricia Neal) fishing in Mexico. While in Mexico, Hannagan leaves Leona behind and without paying Harry for his services. Now truly desperate for money, Harry takes a job offered to him by Duncan (Wallace Ford), who often tries to recruit him for shady jobs. This time, Harry is asked to smuggle Chinese workers into the country illegally. Harry isn’t happy about having to take this job and tries to protect those close to him like his friend Wesley Park (Juano Hernandez) and Leona, who he has become attracted to, so they won’t be involved. And he certainly doesn’t want Lucy to know what he’s up to, although it doesn’t take her long to realize something is wrong and to hear that he’s been spending a lot of time with Leona.

It gets harder and harder to keep his new “job” a secret, especially after Harry gets into a tussle and kills a gangster who tries to rip him off. Harry runs into problems with his boat being confiscated, which gets him even deeper in with Duncan after Duncan helps get the boat back so Harry can do more work for him. This time, Duncan wants Harry to help some gangsters escape after a robbery. Once again, feeling like he has no other choice, he takes the job but comes up with a plan to turn the tables.

The Breaking Point is film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not. Although the version starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, which came six years earlier, is by far the more famous version, The Breaking Point is much more faithful to the source material. (As great as To Have and Have Not is, nobody even bothers trying to argue it was a faithful adaptation of the book.) The Breaking Point is hugely under appreciated. John Garfield, Patricia Neal, and Phyllis Thaxter are all excellent. It’s very raw and gritty with a powerful ending, very much in line with the signature Warner Brothers style. The screenplay is fantastic and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it had Michael Curtiz at the helm as director. The only reason I can imagine as to why it isn’t a more well-known movie is that it’s overshadowed by To Have and Have Not. (I’m not trying to speak ill of To Have and Have Not; I’m very fond of both movies.) Keep an eye out for this one, you won’t be disappointed.

What’s on TCM: January 2015

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Happy January and happy 2015! I hope you had a nice holiday season. After all of the chaos of December, it’s time to relax with some TCM.

Overall, it’s a pretty calm month, but still has a lot to offer. January’s Star of the Month is Robert Redford, whose movies will be featured every Tuesday night this month. The theme for this month’s Friday Night Spotlight is movies based on the works of Neil Simon. On January 22nd, TCM will show a night of Debbie Reynolds movies in recognition of her receiving the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the schedule…


What’s on TCM: January 2011

Welcome to 2011!  This is a little bit of a slow month for me, but there’s still plenty of great stuff to be seen.  Every Tuesday night and Wednesday daytime is a salute to Hal Roach studios so that means tons of Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy shorts, plus lots of other various short films and some features, too.  Peter Sellers is the star of the month, so lots of fun movies come along with that.  Even though there are always quite a few birthday tributes on TCM every month, but they’re not usually as notable as Luise Rainer’s.  She’ll be turning 101 on January 12 so there’s a whole night of her movies to look forward to.  Now, onto my picks for the month:


A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Spending some time in jail for drunk and disorderly conduct turns out to be a life altering event for Larry Rhodes (Andy Griffith).  While he’s in jail, Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) stops by to broadcast her radio show and the sheriff makes a deal with Larry that he’ll be released early if he sings on the air.  He agrees, and Marcia quickly realizes that his charisma and folksy charm would be a great hit on the radio.  She nicknames him “Lonesome” and her uncle hires him to host the morning show at the radio station.  Sure enough, Lonesome Rhodes is an instant sensation.  Meanwhile, Marcia is becoming more and more smitten by Lonesome Rhodes and although he comes onto her, she turns him down.  The only man in town competing with Lonesome for Marcia’s attention is Big Jeff, who is running for mayor.  When Lonesome becomes jealous of him, he successfully convinces his audience to take Big Jeff down a peg and for the first time, Lonesome realizes just how much power he wields over his audience.

Lonesome quickly works his way up from small town radio personality to television personality in Memphis.  While doing his show in Memphis, he ends up making fun of the sponsor and is yanked off the air.  The crowd protests, the sponsor realizes their sales are actually up because of Lonesome Rhodes, and he is given his job back.  Not only does he get his job back, but someone who works for the sponsor manages to get Lonesome his own show in New York.  His New York show is sponsored by an energy pill, Vitajex, and sales soar when it’s being pitched by Lonesome Rhodes.

Lonesome becomes completely and totally drunk on power and fame.  When he isn’t on camera, he makes fun of his audience, treats his staff badly, and even stabs Marcia in the back when he suddenly marries a young majorette (Lee Remick).  When Lonesome is introduced to a senator in the midst of a failing presidential campaign, Lonesome becomes the senator’s media consultant and, once again, the Lonesome Rhodes touch proves to be golden.  However, what goes up, must come down and Marcia takes it upon herself to destroy the monster she helped create.  While the end credits of his show are rolling, Lonesome’s microphone would be cut off.  But when Marcia was left alone in the control room, she turned his microphone back on and revealed Lonesome’s true thoughts about his audience to millions of viewers.  Oblivious to what has just happened, Lonesome returns home expecting it to be filled with dignitaries, only to find an empty penthouse.


What’s on TCM: September 2010

I Hope everyone had fun with Summer Under the Stars 2010!  I know I sure did.  I saw a lot of great stuff for the first time and I’ve still got lots to catch up on.  September feels a little slow in comparison, but there’s still some great stuff coming soon.  Vivien Leigh is the star of the month, so you know there will be lots of great movies featuring her this month.  In addition to Vivien, fans of Kim Novak and Mickey Rooney will have a lot to look forward to.  Thursday nights are dedicated to looking at films with the theme of revenge.  Anyone with an interest in Mexico or Mexican films will be interested in TCM’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution.  All of this month’s TCM Import selections for this month come from Mexico, plus a night of movies about Pancho Villa, in addition to a few other selections.  Now, onto the highlights: