Humoresque (1946)

Recently I’ve seen several films starring John Garfield, and been impressed by all of them. After seeing this fine drama where he plays a virtuoso violinist, I’m starting to wonder if he ever made a bad movie.

I was doubly interested by this film because it sees him opposite Joan Crawford, an actress whose work I want to know better. This is said to be one of her finest performances, and she actually gets top billing over Garfield, although he has more screen time, signalling that at heart this is a woman’s emotion picture.

John Garfield and Joan Crawford

John Garfield and Joan Crawford

Despite the title, which might sound as if this is a comedy, in fact it’s an intense melodrama, with a dark, noirish look about it, wreathed in shadows. However, what sets it apart from other melodramas I’ve seen is the sparklingly witty dialogue by Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold, with plenty of lines to remember for later.  Director Jean Negulesco, nominated for an Oscar a couple of years later for Johnny Belinda, was at the height of his powers, and, with great classical music on the soundtrack, it all adds up to a winning mixture.

Spoilers behind cut

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