He Ran All the Way (1951): John Berry’s Film Noir, John Garfield’s Last Feature

John Berry directed He Ran All the Way, a well-mounted film noir, perhaps best known today for featuring John Garfield in his very last role (he died of fatal heart attack the following year).

He Ran All the Way
He Ran All the Way poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Garfield plays Nick Robey, a petty thief who botches a robbery, leaving behind his wounded partner Al (Norman Lloyd) and escapings with over $10,000.

He meets innocent bakery worker Peg Dobbs (Shelley Winters) at a swimming pool, and when she takes Nick to her family’s apartment, he decides to take the family hostage until he can escape.

During the film’s initial run, director John Berry and writers Dalton Trumbo and Hugo Butler were uncredited due to their being blacklisting in Hollywood during the Red Scare.

Director John Berry went into exile in France after finishing the film, and returned to the U.S. two decades later; he died in 1999.

In the same year, Shelley Winters played another naïve working-class femme, in George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun, for which she earned her first Oscar nomination (in the lead category).

Narratively, this film noir deals with a family entrapped in its own home by a criminal, a theme that would become more prevalent later in the decade in such films as The Desperate Hours, a superior noir starring Bogart and Fredric March.

Production values, including James Wong Howe’s superb cinematography (close-up imagery in a confined space), and Waxman’s ominous music, elevate a standard plot above its melodramatic trappings.

Credits:

Directed by John Berry
Produced by Bob Roberts
Screenplay by Hugo Butler and Dalton Trumbo, based on He Ran All the Way
1947 novel by Sam Ross
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by Francis D. Lyon

Production company: Roberts Pictures

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: June 19, 1951

Running time: 78 minutes
Box office: $1 million

Garfield’s Last Year

On May 9, 1952 Garfield moved out of his New York apartment. He told columnist Earl Wilson that he would soon be divorced. Close friends speculated that it was his wife’s opposition to his plotted confession in Look magazine that triggered the separation.

He heard that a HUAC investigator was reviewing his testimony for possible perjury charges. His agent reported that 20th Century-Fox wanted him for a film called Taxi but would not begin talks unless the investigation concluded in his favor. Three actor friends, Canada Lee, Mady Christians and J. Edward Bromberg, had all recently died after being listed by the committee.

On May 20 Garfield, against his doctor’s orders, played tennis with a friend. He then met actress Iris Whitney for dinner and afterward became suddenly ill. She brought him to her apartment where he refused to let her call a doctor and instead went to bed. The next morning she found him dead.

Long-term heart problems, aggravated by the stress of his blacklisting, had led to his death at the age of 39. The funeral was the largest in New York since Rudolph Valentino. Shortly afterward, ironically, the HUAC closed its investigation of John Garfield. Though his wife, Roberta Seidman, whom he married in February 1935, had been a member of the Communist Party, there was no evidence that Garfield himself was ever a Communist.