He Ran All The Way (1951)

He Ran All The Way (1951) is a John Garfield classic home invasion disillusioned post-war young man turns-to-crime parental nightmare indolent rebel film noir, from the high era of the indolent rebellious criminal youth turns to crime movie style. 

In the murky depths of 1950s Tinseltown, where secrets slither in the shadows and peril prowls at every turn, He Ran All the Way emerges as a gritty yarn of deceit and treachery. 

Directed by the mysterious John Berry and starring the dynamic duo of John Garfield and Shelley Winters, this noir gem plunges audiences into the seamy world of youth in trouble with the law in the doom male post-war era of male doom and desire as doomed males turned to home invading robbery and anarchy, only to satisfy that world-ending craving they have for they know what, only in the movies, and only ever in film noir.

Distributed by the formidable United Artists, "He Ran All the Way" was a passion project for Garfield, brought to life independently by Roberts Pictures, a outfit named after Garfield's confidant and business ally, Bob Roberts. With Garfield's own funds fueling the flames, this flick served as a testament to his unwavering dedication to the craft, even amidst the murky waters of Hollywood politics.

But beneath its noir veneer lies a tale of tragedy and turmoil. Garfield's portrayal of a man on the lam, haunted by his past and hounded by his demons, is nothing short of spellbinding. As he navigates the perilous waters of betrayal and deception, his performance transcends the silver screen, ensnaring audiences in a web of intrigue and danger.

The cinematic mastery of He Ran All The Way is palpable from its very inception, as it thrusts viewers into a dilapidated tenement apartment, a tableau of urban decay teeming with discarded beer cans, squalid dishes, and festering refuse. 

Within this gritty mise-en-scène unfolds the despondent existence of Nick Robey (John Garfield), a hapless soul ensnared in the unforgiving embrace of the city's sweltering inferno. His interactions with his cantankerous mother (Gladys George), punctuated by her stinging rebukes, serve as a stark reminder of his perpetual stagnation. Yet, Robey's rugged resilience masks a foreboding sense of doom, a hallmark of the quintessential noir protagonist.

He Ran All the Way is a 1951 film noir directed by John Berry and starring John Garfield, Shelley Winters, and Wallace Ford. The movie provides insight into the post-World War II culture and societal concerns of the time through its gritty depiction of crime, disillusionment, and the darker aspects of American life in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

The film's protagonist, Nick Robey (John Garfield), is a disillusioned veteran turned criminal, suggesting the difficulties some faced in reintegrating into society after the war. His desperate actions portray a sense of alienation and loss of purpose.

Set in the gritty urban landscape of New York City, the film explores the seedy underworld of crime, violence, and desperation that existed beneath the surface of postwar American cities.

The character of Nikki Rocco (Shelley Winters) represents the traditional housewife archetype, contrasting with the more independent and assertive women who entered the workforce during the war years.

The film belongs high and dry and in every darn-tootin home-inavadin way to the film noir style, which often explored the themes of crime, moral ambiguity, and the darker aspects of human nature, reflecting societal concerns about increasing crime rates in urban areas.

Nick Robey's background as a working-class individual and his involvement in criminal activities could be seen as a commentary on the economic challenges and limited opportunities faced by many in the postwar period.

So yeah, bub, He Ran All the Way provides a gritty and unflinching portrayal of the underbelly of American society in the early 1950s, reflecting the disillusionment, urban decay, and social tensions that existed beneath the surface of postwar prosperity and optimism.

In a fateful encounter, Robey crosses paths with the ambitious Al Molin (Norman Lloyd), whose audacious scheme to pilfer a $10,000 payroll unfolds against the backdrop of proletarian discontent. Molin's disdain for the mundane existence of the working class underscores the cynicism inherent in the noir ethos, as the impending heist unfolds amidst a palpable aura of impending doom. True to the genre's conventions, the ill-fated endeavor quickly spirals into chaos, with Molin meeting a grisly demise and Robey's conscience stained by the blood of both a fellow criminal and a law enforcement officer.

Amidst the chaos, Robey finds an unexpected respite in the form of Peg Dobbs (Shelley Winters), a beacon of innocence in the sordid landscape of urban malaise. Their awkward encounter at a public pool serves as a poignant juxtaposition of Robey's simmering aggression and Peg's guileless charm. 

Swimming pool pursuit and seduction in He Ran All The Way (1951)

Yet, as Robey ensnares Peg and her unsuspecting family in his web of criminality, the fragile veneer of normalcy fractures, casting a shadow over their idyllic domesticity.

He Ran All The Way sets the stage for noir not with the typical cloak of darkness, but with a searing intensity that scorches the screen under the relentless gaze of the sun. James Wong Howe, a titan of noir cinematography, paints a portrait of urban despair, his lens capturing the stifling heat that permeates every frame. From the sweat-drenched close-ups to the sweltering streets, the city itself becomes a character, its oppressive atmosphere suffocating all who dare to navigate its treacherous paths.

Shelley Winters in He Ran All The Way (1951)

Adapted from Sam Ross's novel, the screenplay crackles with the sharp wit and terse dialogue emblematic of the genre. Guy Endore and Hugo Butler, both victims of the blacklist, infuse the script with a subversive edge, their words dripping with irony and disillusionment. 

Director John Berry, himself a casualty of McCarthyism, brings a deft hand to the proceedings, his previous work on Tension (1949) a testament to his mastery of full on film noir fun at the fair and fun at the unfair too, bub.

In the dimly lit streets of the metropolis, Garfield embodies Robey with a palpable sense of agitation, his countenance betraying the weight of his troubled past. Defying age, he portrays a streetwise delinquent with a hardened exterior that belies the turmoil within. 

From moments of brutal confrontation to fleeting glimpses of vulnerability, Garfield masterfully navigates Robey's complex psyche, evoking a sense of sympathy despite his transgressions.

Shelley Winters in He Ran All The Way (1951)

Beside him, Winters shines as a beacon of vulnerability, her delicate demeanor belying the strength that lies within. With each glance and gesture, she conveys a palpable sense of desperation, her plight mirroring Robey's own struggles in the unforgiving urban landscape.

In the supporting cast, Ford's frustrated patriarch, Royle's stoic resilience, and George's cynically bitter matriarch add depth and nuance to the narrative tapestry. Their performances, rooted in unwavering authenticity, serve to elevate the film's portrayal of societal strife and moral decay.

Under the direction of Berry, the ensemble's interactions unfold within the suffocating confines of their surroundings, each frame dripping with palpable tension and unease. As the plot unfolds, the sense of entrapment intensifies, mirroring the characters' inexorable descent into darkness.

John Garfield in He Ran All The Way (1951)

Though often overshadowed by its noir contemporaries, "He Ran All the Way" endures as a testament to the enduring power of cinema. Its exploration of desperation and disillusionment resonates with audiences across generations, solidifying its place as an essential entry in the annals of noir history.

But behind the scenes lies a shadowy world of political intrigue. Dalton Trumbo, uncredited due to his blacklisting, adds his voice to the chorus of dissent, his presence felt even in absence. 

Endore, branded a Communist sympathizer, navigates the perilous waters of studio politics, his pseudonym a shield against persecution. Berry's own battles with censorship culminate in the removal of his credit, a silent protest against the forces that seek to silence dissent.

In the heart of Hollywood, where shadows conceal as much as they reveal, He Ran All The Way stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression. As the legacy of the Hollywood Ten lives on, their defiance immortalized on celluloid, the true power of cinema lies not in its glamour, but in its ability to shed light on the darkest corners of society.

Yet, behind the glitz and glamour, controversy brews. Garfield's ties to the Communist Party USA earned him the stain of the blacklist, casting a long shadow over his career and marking He Ran All the Way as his final curtain call. 

Testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Garfield vehemently denied any affiliation with communism, but the accusations would dog him until his untimely demise at the tender age of 39.

John Garfield in He Ran All The Way (1951)

Behind closed doors, the script underwent a tumultuous journey, with Dalton Trumbo, a victim of the blacklist himself, guiding the ship. Despite facing his own legal woes, Trumbo's vision remained unscathed, spinning a yarn of intrigue and suspense that would captivate audiences for years to come. His collaboration with director John Berry and writer Guy Endore added layers of depth to the narrative, ensuring that He Ran All the Way would etch itself into the annals of cinematic history.

Yet, amidst the accolades, financial woes loomed large. Trumbo's modest budget ballooned to staggering proportions, straining the resources of the production team and leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. But despite the hurdles, He Ran All the Way soldiered on, earning plaudits from critics and moviegoers alike.

As the credits rolled and the lights dimmed, He Ran All the Way etched itself into the fabric of film noir, solidifying its status as a timeless classic. And with United Artists poised for a rerelease in the wake of Garfield's untimely demise, the legacy of this tale of crime and redemption was assured, destined to echo through the corridors of cinematic history for generations to come.

When the film was released, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther praised Garfield's work, writing:
John Garfield's stark performance of the fugitive who desperately contrives to save himself briefly from capture is full of startling glints from start to end. He makes a most odd and troubled creature, unused to the normal flow of life, unable to perceive the moral standards of decent people or the tentative advance of a good girl's love. And in Mr. Garfield's performance, vis-a-vis the rest of the cast, is conveyed a small measure of the irony and the pity that was in the book.

John Garfield, born Jacob Julius Garfinkle, emerged from the vibrant streets of New York City's Lower East Side, a crucible of immigrant dreams and urban grit. His journey to stardom began amidst the tumult of the left-wing Group Theater, where he forged bonds of camaraderie with luminaries like Clifford Odets. In 1938, he ventured westward, skeptically embracing a contract with Warner Bros, steeling himself for the inevitable clash between his gritty authenticity and the glitzy facade of Hollywood.

"I came prepared to face the worst, expecting the cold hand of rejection", Garfield reminisced in 1939. Yet, fate intervened in the form of Jack Warner, whose eccentric welcome dance and hearty handshake dispelled Garfield's apprehensions, if only momentarily. "It was a toss-up between Sing Sing and Hollywood", Garfield jests, reflecting on his uncertain path. But behind the bravado lay the portrait of a melancholic soul, a solitary figure navigating the tumult of fame and fortune.

Shelley Winters in He Ran All The Way (1951)

With a subtle intensity and piercing gaze, Garfield transcended the silver screen, embodying the essence of film noir. His performances radiated a potent blend of romantic despair and raw sensuality, captivating audiences with his portrayal of doomed, yet achingly human characters. Alongside Humphrey Bogart, he stood as a beacon of urban masculinity, a testament to the enduring allure of the cityscape in cinema's golden age.

John Garfield in He Ran All The Way (1951)

In the annals of Hollywood history, John Garfield remains an enigmatic figure, but there are in fact no annals of Hollywood, and no such thing exists, exactly in 'annal' form, other than blogs like this and a million other movie books and television clip shows. In fact 'annal' cannot even take the singular, such is their substantive and existential lack.

But that said, and in the minds of these annalists working here at Classic Film Noir, John Garfield's legacy is now and until annals dry up like old canals, will be immortalized in the shadows of noir and the echoes of his poignant performances. As Robert Sklar aptly noted, he and Bogart were the quintessential "city boy" actors, emblematic of an era defined by its urban mystique and cinematic allure.

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