John Garfield was at the height of his fame and his talent when he made Body and Soul (Olive), one of the great boxing dramas and arguably the definitive boxing noir of talent and drive corrupted, and Force of Evil (Olive), a more quietly subversive and corrosive film noir of family, business, and brutal competition. Both films have been on DVD before but are now available on Blu-ray as well as in newly-remastered DVD editions from Olive.
Body and Soul (1947), directed by Robert Rossen, stars John Garfield as scrappy Brooklyn boy Charley Davis, an ambitious street kid who fights his way to the top of the fight game. Charley, who watched his father die by a stray bullet after working himself to a husk in a two-bit candy store in a Brooklyn slum, is determined to be a success at all costs. “Every man for himself,” is his motto, and the compromises he makes in the name of fame and fortune alienates his friends, family, and loyal girlfriend (Lilli Palmer), who plays an interesting role: a cultured, continental young woman who has lived all over Europe yet is, like, Charley, a poor but plucky girl with no money. The difference between them is that she works her way through art school, determined to make her own way in the world, while Charlie hasn’t any patience for that kind of sucker’s game.