He Ran All the Way, John Garfield’s last picture, was made under the oppressive shadow of HUAC. Soon after its release Garfield was dead from heart failure. Dalton Trumbo wrote the script (under an alias), John Berry directed, James Wong Howe lensed, and Franz Waxman penned a dramatic score. This team, along with a strong supporting cast deliver a solid picture. It has flaws – a tendency to melodrama and plot contrivances – but it delivers a strong noir punch.
Garfield is a nervous small-time loser who kills a cop during a payroll heist and holes up an innocent family in their apartment as he desperately seeks to evade capture. The guy is screwed-up big-time but underneath it all has some desire for connectedness. He is brutal but gentle, ruthless yet hesitant, hateful while desperate for love. Garfield’s portrayal is pitch-perfect and a worthy epitaph. Shelley Winters in an early role as a young innocent does really well in a difficult role.
Strange that I have yet to read a serious review of the film. NoirofTheWeek.com provides a signature belabored outline of the plot and little else. Bosley Crowther in the NY Times on the movie’s release couldn’t see the forest for the trees in a petulant dismissal resting on alleged weak characterisations. Glen Kenny on TheAutuers.com treats the film as an opportunity for self-satisfied satire.
Those bloodhounds at HUAC would have had you believe this scene from the picture is ‘commie’ propaganda:
Sunday morning in the hostage family’s kitchen. Garfield is drinking coffee while the father (Wallace Ford) works on a model boat. Garfield has just turned off the radio after a church sermon is announced.
JG: What that church stuff do for ya anyway, what’s it get ya?
WF: Well… for one thing it makes a man understand the nature of love.
JG : Yeah?
WF: Yeah… The faith that there’s someone more important than yourself, that your family’s more important than both of you, and that every other human’s a member of your family…
JG: What’s a holy joe like you get outta life? What ya want outta life?
WF: To be left alone, to work, to be left alone.
To be left alone. But life won’t leave us alone. This is what noir is all about.
3 thoughts on “He Ran All the Way (1951): “To be left alone””
PS: TCM US has scheduled He Ran All the Way for FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 @ 02:00 AM (ET).
Well Tony, I must say I am thrilled to see a new post from you after a long well-deserved break. I do hope from time to time (or more often than that depending on your hankering) you will impart your incomparable views at this still and always celebrated place for noir fans. You have returned here with a most intriguing review of a film I am soprry to say I have not yet seen. I see it’s available at Region 2 DVD:
I am more than intrigued with these factors:
1.) It’s Garfield’s last role, and he passed on shortly after filming.
2.) The great Franz Waxman wrote the score.
3.) One of the great cinematographers, James Wong Howe, lensed it.
4.) It’s another example of HUAC’s witch hunts.
Yes those fools would find something in that passage! Ha!