Watch The Breaking Point
- 1 hr 37 min
The Breaking Point is a film noir from 1950 directed by Michael Curtiz, based on Ernest Hemingway's novel To Have and Have Not. Set in the post World War II San Francisco Bay Area, the film stars John Garfield as Harry Morgan, a struggling fishing boat captain who is desperate to provide for his family. In his quest to make ends meet, Morgan is forced into a life of deception and criminal activity, crossing paths with dangerous characters along the way. At the start of the film, we meet Harry Morgan as he's trying to secure a fishing contract, only to be undercut by a rival. Already struggling to make ends meet, Morgan accepts a shady deal from a wealthy playboy, Duncan (played by Juano Hernandez). Duncan offers Harry a substantial amount of money to take him and his mistress, a sultry lounge singer named Leona (played by Patricia Neal), to Mexico. Morgan agrees, but as the journey progresses, it becomes apparent that Duncan and his mistress aren't who they appear to be. Harry finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation, both on the high seas and on land. As the film progresses, Harry's desperation escalates. He takes on additional jobs, including smuggling Chinese immigrants into the United States. In one particularly tense scene, Harry and his mate try to sneak the immigrants past customs by hiding them under the deck of the boat. The suspense is palpable as the immigration officers board the boat and search for any sign of smuggling. The sequence is a standout moment in the film, as the tension builds to a nerve-wracking conclusion. Phyllis Thaxter plays Harry's loyal wife, Lucy, who is unaware of her husband's criminal activities. Her character is sympathetic, and her understated performance is a highlight of the film. Lucy serves as a reminder of the domestic life that Harry is trying to provide for his family, despite the risks he takes to do so. The Breaking Point is a dark and gritty film that deals with the harsh realities of post-World War II life. Its characters are flawed and complicated, and the film doesn't shy away from the messy, violent consequences of their actions. The story is elevated by Michael Curtiz's masterful direction, which imbues the film with a sense of unease and tension from start to finish. Of note, is also the unique talent of Ernest Hemingway and Michael Curtiz pairing for this movie, which is less well known but equally compelling as their previous partnership in The Sea Hawk. The writer and director were able to create together a sense of tension and emotional depth that is not typical in other film noirs of the time. While the film is not as well known as some of the other classic film noirs of the era, it remains a must-see for fans of the genre and admirers of the talents of John Garfield, Michael Curtiz, and Ernest Hemingway. In conclusion, The Breaking Point is a standout example of film noir, one that deserves to be rediscovered for its excellent screenplay, direction, and performances. Its portrayal of post-WWII life, and the desperation that follows, is a timeless one that resonates with modern audiences. If you haven't seen The Breaking Point, it's well worth tracking down.