The Breaking Point (1950)
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The very last scene is heartbreaking.
Though it shared vague plot points with To Have and Have Not, Michael Curtiz's adaptation of the same Hemingway material, The Breaking Point, is an entirely different film. The first was a star-studded, patriotic, witty Hollywood movie. The Breaking Point is a hard-edged, down and dirty, class struggle where poverty is the real antagonist. John Garfield has a face that makes everyone want to cheat him, apparently, and he's pushed to the limit by money problems as the film asks whether poverty could make criminals of us all. There's also a love triangle, of sorts, that may feel unnecessary, but it does track Garfield's moral compass. We don't know what he's really thinking when it comes to taking criminals on board his boat, but we can extrapolate it from his relationship with his potential mistress. Eventually, push comes to shove, but there's a chance for a happy ending. Except Curtiz has one last gut punch to throw at us, bringing the class struggle element into sharp (but subtle) focus at the very end. Garfield's character may feel like he's run out of good options, but he did have options. Not everyone in the film is so lucky.
Wow, this generally just feels like a great movie, a really great movie that few people have seen.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #172 in TSPDT 1000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #626 in Doubling the Canon
This movie ranks #1031 in The Criterion Collection