Monday, April 20, 2009

Robert Rossen's (and Abraham Polonsky's) Body And Soul

from answer'
This riveting 1947 drama, regarded by many as the greatest boxing movie of all time, centers on a former pugilist who looks back on his life in and out of the ring and realizes that self-respect is a more important prize than winning. John Garfield is Charlie Davis, a former boxing champion who began fighting in order to save himself and his mother from poverty after his father was killed in a mob-related bombing. William Conrad plays Quinn, a veteran boxer-turned-trainer who discovers that Davis has the potential to be a professional fighter. Eager to take on all contenders, Davis eventually defeats the world champion, but winning has cost him more than he bargained for. He falls in with the mob and takes to a life of easy women and plentiful booze, winning easy bouts with second-rate opponents. In the end, Davis realizes the error of his ways -- but is it too late? With all the odds against him, and knowing that the fight has already been fixed, Davis is forced to make the choice between what's expected of him and what he expects of himself. The fight sequences were filmed on roller skates with a hand-held camera, adding a realism that strengthens the film's verisimilitude. ~ Don Kaye, All Movie Guide

The boxing drama Body and Soul benefits from a riveting screenplay by Abraham Polonsky, intense editing from Francis D. Lyon and Robert Parrish, and innovative cinematography by the legendary James Wong Howe. Tying all of these elements together is director Robert Rossen, who coaxes a superb performance from John Garfield as the troubled boxer Charlie Davis. Rossen would explore similar themes of redemption in sports and gambling in 1961's The Hustler. Howe's tight shot composition would influence similar classics over the years, most notably Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull; the similarly influential work of Lyon and Parrish would garner the team an Oscar. ~ Richard Gilliam, All Movie Guide

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