Nobody Lives Forever (1946): Jean Negulesco’s Film Noir, Starring John Garfield and Geraldine Fitzgerald

Jean Negulesco directed Nobody Lives Forever a crime film noir, based on the novel “I Wasn’t Born Yesterday” by W. R. Burnett.

Nobody Lives Forever
Nobody Lives Forever.jpg

Theatrical release poster

It stars John Garfield in the best phase of his career, having made The Postman Always Rings Twice, also in 1946, and a year later, Body and Soul and the Oscar-winning picture, Gentleman’s Agreement.

Geraldine Fitzgerald, better known for supporting roles (Dark Victory, Wuthering Heights), gets to play one of her few leading roles on screen.

The rest of the estimable ensemble includes three-time Oscar winner Walter Brennan, Faye Emerson, George Coulouris and George Tobias.

Former conman Nick Blake (John Garfield), a soldier returning to New York City after World War II, looks up his old girlfriend Toni Blackburn (Faye Emerson) to get the money she has been holding for him while he was in the army.

Toni claims that she lost the money investing in a nightclub before selling it to Chet King (Robert Shayne), who employs her there now as a singer. When Nick discovers Toni’s affair with King, he takes his money.

Nick looks up old conman Pop Gruber (Walter Brennan), who feels he’s getting too old for the con game.

Nick and his crony Al (George Tobias) travel to Los Angeles, where another con artist, Doc Ganson (George Coulouris), has spotted a sucker.

Doc reluctantly approaches Pop to recruit Nick, even though there is bad blood between them.

The plan is to have Nick court the recent widow Gladys Halvorsen (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and persuade her to invest in a phony tugboat business. Nick agrees on the condition that he get two-thirds of the proceeds.

The plan hits a snag when Nick falls in love with the intended victim and decides to back out of the con.

Meanwhile, Gladys’ business manager, Charles Manning (Richard Gaines), has found out about Nick’s criminal past and alerts both Gladys and the authorities. But the law can’t touch Nick since he hasn’t yet taken any money.

When Nick admits the truth to Gladys, she, already in love, refuses to let him go.

Nick decides to pay the others by using his own money. Toni shows up, though, and learns of the aborted scheme. When she tells Doc that she is sure Nick intends to marry Gladys and her $2,000,000, the gang kidnaps the widow.

Pop follows them to their hideout, and in the ensuing gunfight, Nick rescues Gladys, but both Doc and Pop are killed.

John Garfield as Nick Blake
Geraldine Fitzgerald as Gladys Halvorsen
Walter Brennan as Pop Gruber
Faye Emerson as Toni Blackburn
George Coulouris as Doc Ganson
George Tobias as Al Doyle, Nick’s friend
Robert Shayne as Chet King
Richard Gaines as Charles Manning
Richard Erdman as Bellboy


Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Robert Buckner
Screenplay by W. R. Burnett, based on his 1943 novel, Nobody Lives Forever
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Arthur Edeson
Edited by Rudi Fehr

Production, distribution: Warner Bros.

Release date: October 12, 1946
Running time: 100 minutes



TCM showed this movie on February 2, 2021.