Body and Soul (1947) Robert Rossen
Olive Blu-ray (1:44)
Body and Soul is often cited as one of the best and most important films about boxing, but if that’s all you take away from the film, you’re missing a great deal. The excellent screenplay by Abraham Polonsky begins with middleweight boxing champ Charlie Davis (John Garfield) preparing to defend his title against a young up-and-coming fighter. Davis’s slimy promoter (Lloyd Gough) tells him he must throw the fight or he’s finished. What led to this awful situation? We find out, thanks to film noir’s best friend, the flashback.
Francis Lyon and Robert Parrish won the Oscar for Best Film Editing with this film and deservedly so, but the movie also boasts cinematography by James Wong Howe, excellent direction by Robert Rossen, and wonderful performances by the entire cast which includes Garfield, Lilli Palmer, William Conrad, Joseph Pevney, Lloyd Gough, Hazel Brooks, and Art Smith in a cameo. Polonsky’s script weaves issues of corruption, greed, social commentary and much more without ever getting preachy. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath for the last 10 minutes. Body and Soul is a great way to start your Noirvember.
5 thoughts on “Noirvember 2017, Episode 1: Body and Soul (1947)”
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I’ve had something of a Garfield rediscovery this year – really liked this one but I think THE BREAKING POINT is my favorite performance. Thanks for stopping by!
I really should watch this again, it’s been quite a while. Garfield is my favorite male performer classic or modern-and his style for the most part is quite modern-and I did like the film very much when I saw it but it’s never been one like The Breaking Point, Humoresque or Nobody Lives Forever that I return to frequently.
But along with The Set-up, Champion and The Harder They Fall, all of which have heavy noir influences, it’s one of the best boxing films from this period.
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