Blu-Ray Review: The Breaking Point

While Ernest Hemingway may have only published seven novels during his lifetime, his writing style had a profound influence on American literature. An author whose work was very much shaped by his experiences, themes such as love, travel and loss punctuated a lively creativity. His novels have been adapted for the big screen many times. To Have and Have Not was most famously a vehicle for Bogart and Becall, but equally successfully transposed in The Breaking Point.

After the end of the war, Harry Morgan (John Garfield) decided to strike out on his own. Starting a sports fishing business, which he loves. He had an almost idyllic life with his wife (Phyllis Thaxter) and daughters, but they’re now struggling to make ends meet. When he agrees to take a wealthy passenger (Ralph Dumke) to Mexico, he gets more than he bargained for (Patricia Neal). Left with no choice, Harry turns to a shady lawyer (Wallace Ford) for help.

The Breaking Point is a tumultuous film noir where one mistake results in an honest man’s life spiralling downwards. Garfield is excellent as the hard-boiled sea captain, determined to keep his head above water at all costs. Michael Curtiz’s film is part thriller, part social commentary, mixing the travails of struggling against poverty with the dangers of ‘easy’ money. The Breaking Point is as valid today as it ever was.


  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New interview with critic Alan K. Rode (Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film)
  • New piece featuring actor and acting instructor Julie Garfield speaking about her father, actor John Garfield
  • New video essay by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos, analysing Curtiz’s methods
  • Excerpts from a 1962 episode of Today showing contents of the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida, including items related to To Have and Have Not, the novel on which The Breaking Point is based
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek

The Breaking Point is released on Blu-ray in the UK as part of the Criterion Collection on 15 August.

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