With a Hollywood career that yielded more than a hundred films, Michael Curtiz was one of the studio system’s most dependable and prolific directors, a veteran whose quietly virtuosic craftsmanship enabled him to move effortlessly through a wide range of genres. Among the most underappreciated of his masterworks is the 1950 daylight noir The Breaking Point, a take on Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not that the author named as his favorite film adaptation of any of his books. Starring John Garfield in his penultimate screen performance, this heartrending portrait of postwar working-class life depicts the struggles of a good-natured charter-boat captain who is tempted into illegal activity after falling on hard times. In a video essay on our newly released edition, Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou analyze the understated artistry with which Curtiz propels the movie forward, uncovering layers of characterization and narrative. The above excerpt breaks down an early scene that highlights the strained dynamics between the protagonist and his wife (Phyllis Thaxter), whose relationship serves as the emotional core of the film.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.