John Garfield and Lana Turner as Frank and Cora in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946) directed by Tay Garnett
Frank: Maybe it's none of my business, but, uh, what's Nick sore about?
Cora: He's so crazy about the sign, he's afraid you'll claim it's your idea instead of his.
Frank: Yeah. (He winks at her) Watch.
Jake Gyllenhaal winking right eye
John Garfield winking right eye
Anne Shirley and John Garfield in "Saturday's Children" (1940) directed by Vincent Sherman
"I was able to capitalize on qualities I knew he had, naïvete, sweetness, charm, vulnerability. It was a big artistic success. He was a trained actor with many sides to his talent". -Vincent Sherman on John Garfield
Kaaren Verne and Humphrey Bogart in "All Through The Night" (1942) directed by Vincent Sherman
Vincent Sherman was well-known in Hollywood for "women's pictures" and went on to direct such fine films as "All through the night" starring Humphrey Bogart and "The Hard Way" (both in 1942). Like Patri and Odets before him, Sherman ended up playing surrogate father to John Garfield. Acting fired interest in cultural and national events. "He was so eager to find out everything there is to know about life", Sherman recalled. "He wanted to know about art, painting and music. I've never seen such eagerness to learn in all my life. I'd buy a New Republic and The Nation and let him read them, and he'd just devour them".
Sherman and Garfield would stay up through the wee hours of the night talking about theater and life. "We lived in New York at that time," Sherman recalled. Garfield wanted more "Four Daughters" type films rather than another "Blackwell's Island", and to that end he made it a habit to hang out with the studio's screenwriters at their lunch table in the commissary.
Garfield continued to socialize with the Epstein Brothers and Ring Lardner Jr., as well as Howard Koch, John Huston and others, figuring he'd have a chance to get in on the ground floor of the next good picture. He accepted the fact that these writers would make him the brunt of their jokes. "What do you hear from the fates, John?" they would yell to him across the commissary, which led everyone to laugh.
"His desire was to be with the writers, and I understood that and appreciated that. I didn't think it was anything to laugh about, but sometimes the writers would make fun of him and laugh about it", Sherman recalled. Garfield needed to be liked; he still had that insecurity that stemmed from his lack of family. "Everybody he spoke to, he used charm with", secretary Helen Levitt recalled. "He needed everyone to like him. He really worked at it." Elia Kazan agreed: "He wanted to be liked, to be valued, to be esteemed."
Priscilla Lane and John Garfield in "Four Daughters" (1939) directed by Michael Curtiz
"I wanna have it all through the night
Christmas comes only once a year
why can't anybody shed just one tear
for things that don't happen all through the night
Oh, mama, all through the night
oh, baby, do it to me all through the night
Easy, easy, baby, why don't you give it to me
all through the night" -"All Through The Night" song by Lou Reed ("The Bells" album, 1979)
At age 24, Garfield was a success. He was a movie star, the embodiment of the American Dream. He truly believed that he would be given the type of roles that made the careers of great actors like Olivier. But Garfield was in for a shock. There would be few films of the quality of "Four Daughters" at Warner Bros. "He became like a star overnight. He wasn't prepared to that kind of success so quickly, almost meteoric" -recalled Vincent Sherman.
George Brent and Bette Davis in "Dark Victory" (1939) directed by Vincent Sherman
John Garfield and Bette Davis, co-founders of The Hollywood Canteen
In "Saturday's Children" Garfield won an on-going battle with Warner Bros. to let him play something other than a thug or a criminal; unfortunately the film was a box-office flop, although critics praised Garfield's performance. Garfield plays Rims Rosson, a shy, naive young inventor who has dreams of adventure but who in reality is just another office clerk who's always strapped for money.