How It Slips Away

'The Breaking Point' Crosses Hemingway With Noir

by Michael Barrett

21 August 2017

Image: The Movie Database 
cover art

The Breaking Point

Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: John Garfield, Patricia Neal

US DVD: 8 Aug 2017

Given that many people know American novels, to the extent that they know them, from the film versions (if any) more than from reading them, most people know Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel To Have and Have Not from Howard Hawks’ 1944 film, which introduced Lauren Bacall to a dazzled world and an equally bewitched Humphrey Bogart. At 19, she slinked across the screen, all hair and elbows, and delivered come-hither lines like “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Less well known, unfortunately, is the 1950 remake, which happens to be a much more faithful adaption and therefore more pleasing to Hemingway and his readers. It’s ironic, then, that it uses a different title, The Breaking Point, probably in an effort to avoid unfair comparisons to the previous hit. Criterion has now issued that remake on Blu-ray for the delectation of fans of Hemingway, of excellent noir films, and of intense star John Garfield who, as always, is basically playing John Garfield.

The Breaking Point

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