The Breaking Point (1950)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenplay: Ranald MacDougall (Based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not)
Stars: John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Juano Hernandez and Wallace Ford.
The Pitch: “Let’s redo To Have and Have Not but make it closer to Hemmingway’s novel!”
Tagline: There’s nothing more deadly than a gentle man pushed too far!
The Overview: Beware of Spoilers…
Harry Morgan was a war hero that doesn’t mean much any more. Times are tough. Morgan is a charter boat captain with a wife, two little girls and a stack of bills he needs to take care of. When a sleazy lawyer offers Morgan a chance at some easy money, he turns it down. Morgan knows something legal will come along.
And it does. Morgan gets a week’s rental from a business man wanting a fishing trip to Mexico. Things start to go sideways when the man unexpectedly brings along his sexy, flirtatious girlfriend. The woman is trouble and she knows it.
In Mexico, the man decides to cut his trip short and agrees to pay Morgan in the morning before they head back. The next day Morgan learns that the man skipped out and flew back to the states. Morgan is stuck in Mexico with no money, the guy’s girlfriend and no way home.
Of course the easy money offer is still available…
The Breaking Point is an under-rated gem. If you like noir, then this is for you.
This is Garfield’s best role. Patricia Neal is perfect as the sexy, trouble-making young woman with experience beyond her years. Thaxter is great as the wife trying to keep things together as her husband makes increasingly bad decisions. Juano Hernandez, as Morgan’s best friend, isn’t there with Walter Brennan comic relief.
I can’t believe I waited so long to finally watch The Breaking Point. Part of the problem may be the poster and trailer aren’t good indicators of how great the film is. And that final scene!