John Garfield in "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Castle on the Hudson", "Out of the Fog" and "Body & Soul"

John Garfield and Lana Turner as Frank and Cora in a promotional still of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946)

In his retrospective narration, Frank remembers how fatal his decision to stay became. Cora, the quintessential femme fatale, sneaks into Frank's room later in the evening to talk about their future on her own terms. The lovers plan to murder the woman's unloved husband - and it is the unfaithful wife Cora who plants the idea of murder into Frank's head so that they can be together. The ambitious, yet soul-less seductress argues that with her husband dead, she would inherit the financial security of the restaurant:

Cora: Frank, do you love me?
Frank: Yes.
Cora: Do you love me so much that nothing else matters?
Frank: Yes.

Cora and Nick enjoy an idyllic week together. They frolic at night in the surreal surf and enjoy romantic trysting with the breathing room given them by Nick's absence:

"It was the happiest I'd ever spent in my life. I wouldn't let myself think. And Cora wouldn't even discuss what was going to happen when Nick came home. All I cared about was her being happy. And as for me, I felt as if I was riding on a cloud". However, when Nick is being driven home, Frank has only one option. He hurriedly packs and leaves and becomes a vagabond once more: "After a couple of weeks in L.A., I-I sunk low enough to hang around the wholesale market where they bought a lot of their stuff, hoping I, I'd run into her. I just couldn't get her out of my mind".

Obsessed and drawn back by the memory of angel-faced Cora, Frank locates Nick's car at the Los Angeles market, and with only a half-hearted protest, he is convinced to return with Nick to Twin Oaks. In the cafe, Cora is stunned to see Frank re-appear: "Frank: Have you been thinkin' about me, Cora?" -Cora: "I couldn't forget ya that quick".

"For the first time in his life he has done the decent thing... protecting the Warden’s reputation and saving Kay from a jail term. This is clearly of comfort to him as he is led to the chair. The sub-text is that none of this would have been possible without the inspiration and influence of Warden Long, whose ethical approach was no doubt modelled on the man who wrote the screenplay, Lewis E Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing.

Is it any better than the original? Marginally. It’s fast paced (just 76 minutes) and Garfield’s brashness and quick-fire gangsterisms perhaps top Spencer Tracy’s, and Sheridan’s Kay is more believable than Bette Davis the first time around". Source:

"Garfield was on voluntary suspension from Warner Bros. because of dissatisfaction with roles the studio was offering him (usually criminals or prison inmates) when he was sent the script for "Castle on the Hudson". His reported response when offered one more prison saga was, "Parole me!" It was director-screenwriter-producer Robert Rossen, a friend of Garfield's, who persuaded him to take on Spencer Tracy's old role. Garfield agreed to do the film provided the studio would not change the original ending, which had Tommy going to the electric chair to cover for the girlfriend, who had shot and killed a treacherous lawyer. When the film opened, The New York Times began its review by joking, "This is merely a routine notice that Mr. John Garfield, formerly of the Group Theatre, who was recently sentenced to a term in Warner Bros. Pictures, is still in prison."

"Garfield had some trepidation about succeeding the highly regarded Tracy -and, indeed, some critics accused the younger actor of borrowing from both Tracy and James Cagney in his performance. When the film is viewed today, however, it's easy to see that Garfield made the role his own. In later describing his preparation for the climactic execution scene, he explained how he used his Method training to make the experience seem real: "Naturally I hadn't ever been to the chair before, so it required a little imagination to go back into my past and find the emotion I needed... When I got onstage for the first performance of Awake and Sing (his first major stage role with the Group Theatre), it felt like the electric chair... and that feeling is what I was remembering when the movie cameras were grinding." Source:

In his analysis of the Cagney persona, Harvard intellectual Lincoln Kirstein wrote, "No one expresses more in terms of pictorial action, the delights of violence, the overtones of a semi-conscious sadism, the tendency towards destruction, towards anarchy, which is the basis of American sex appeal". Cagney had become a big star, but the poor Irish kid from the Lower East Side never forgot where he had come from. Taking note of this, Communist screenwriter John Bright was going to put him in with some folks who could use the star's new altruism for their benefit. The involvement with the radicals came back to haunt Cagney in 1940 when he testified before Martin Dies' then kinder, gentler convening of the HUAC in Washington. With his career at stake, Cagney disowned his former friends and claimed that as a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood, he just wanted to help those who were on the bottom. "What the hell did I know about the ebb and flow of political movements?" he cried.

Poster of "Out of The Fog" starring Ida Lupino and John Garfield (1941) directed by Anatole Litvak

Goff (John Garfield) is dazzling Stella (Ida Lupino) with his ill-gotten wealth. After introducing Stella to several ritzy clubs, he conspires to take her to Havana's more decadent hot spots -shades of Clifford Odets' aborted anti-Batista play.

To "The Boston Daily Record", John Garfield enthused: "The film has something important to say. It shows how men such as I portray are kicked around until they eventually turn against society, adopting the fascist idea of seizing what they want". The casting for the plum role of fascistic gangster Goff became intense. Though James Cagney was discussed for the role, director Anatole Litvak had favored George Raft.

Howard Barnes felt that "Out of the Fog" was "a work of genuine distinction" and said Garfield gave "what is unquestionably his greatest screen portrayal as the petty hoodlum who turns gentle people into killers." Garfield is frightening and he imbues the thug character with chilling mood swings. -"The Left Side of the Screen: Communist and Left-Wing Ideology in Hollywood, 1929-2009" by Bob Herzberg (2011)

John Garfield as Charley Davis in "Body and Soul" (1947) directed by Robert Rossen

"Garfield pushed himself to the limit for authenticity, suffering a mild heart attack while exercising in one scene and knocking himself out when he collided with a camera boom while filming a fight with former welterweight fighter Art Darrell. This last injury gave him a head wound that took six stitches to close. 'Body and Soul' opened to rave reviews and huge box office returns. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times said, "Altogether this Enterprise picture rolls up a round-by-round triumph on points until it comes through with a climactic knockout that his the all-time high in throat-catching fight films." Garfield was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as was Abraham Polonsky for his screenplay. Francis Lyon and Robert Parrish won the Oscar for Best Editing. Source: