Nobody Lives Forever (1946)

 Nobody_Lives_Forever Nobody Lives Forever (1946)

Run time: 100 min
Rating: 7.0
Genres: Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
Director: Jean Negulesco
Writers: W.R. Burnett
Stars: John Garfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Walter Brennan
Ex-GI Nick Blake gets involved in a scheme to fleece a rich young widow, but finds himself falling for her for real, much to the displeasure of his racketeer cohorts. Written by Jim Beaver <>
Release Date: 1 November 1946 (USA)

4 responses to “Nobody Lives Forever (1946)”

  1. IMDBReviewer says:

    "Nobody Lives Forever" has so many good qualities is it hard to know where to begin the list. The film’s basic plot-line is not the most original, but the intelligent and witty script gives it plenty of excitement and interest. There is an effective and pleasing musical score by Adolf Deutsch (with Jerome Moross) and the film is beautifully, atmospherically shot as well.

    Most impressive of all is the cast of "Nobody Lives Forever". There is not a single weak link in this one. Supporting players include the likes of Walter Brennan (world-weary and philosophical), George Tobias (an amiably amusing sidekick), George Coulouris (more than suitably menacing), Faye Emerson (a sassy ,would-be femme fatale), James Flavin and Grady Sutton, the latter in a memorable cameo as a short order cook

    Geraldine Fitzgerald brings exactly the right mixture of innocence and sophistication to a newly rich recent widow. Her potential victimizer is brilliantly played by John Garfield. This is one of Garfield’s most conflicted characters. The actor is convincing at every turn, capable of being both sympathetic and despicable.

    "Nobody Lives Forever" really lives up to its existential title. It’s a rare gem to be sought out by every aficionado of film noir.

  2. IMDBReviewer says:

    Many films from the mid-forties deal with men struggling to readjust to their civilian lives after their wartime service. NOBODY LIVES FOREVER offers a twist: the hero's pre-war career was as a successful con artist. He doesn't have any trouble getting his job back, but does he still want it? World War II is a source of anxiety and moral confusion in many postwar noirs, but this film (set during the war) suggests that a stint with Uncle Sam can straighten out a crooked guy.

    In contrast to the convoluted plots so common in noir, this is a simple story. Just out of the army, Nick Blake (John Garfield) returns to New York to find his girlfriend has given the money he left in her keeping to another man. After clearing up that little business, he takes off for Los Angeles, where he is talked into fleecing a rich widow, Gladys Halvorson (Geraldine Fitzgerald.) Guess what? He falls for her and wants out, but has to deal with his vengeful accomplices. The plot is unoriginal but also foolproof, and the film's leisurely pace and rich characterizations are the primary appeal, evoking a raffish, Runyonesque world. Leading the troupe of colorful character actors is George Tobias as Blake's sidekick Al Doyle, who doesn't do much except tag along for the ride, cracking wise in thick New Yorkese and complaining bitterly when he realizes Nick has "gone overboard for this tomato." Walter Brennan is Pop Gruber, Nick's boyhood mentor in crime, now down on his luck and scraping a living with a telescope, selling "the moon and stars for a dime" and picking the pockets of his drunken customers. Then there's cadaverous, sinister George Colouris as Doc, a has-been con man consumed by jealousy of Nick. Even the smallest characters—from an ex-jockey bellboy to the counterman in an all-night diner who can't stand to hear the words "java" or "pal"—add flavor; they're a great bunch of "cheap, hungry chiselers." Richard Gaines (Jean Arthur's fiancé, Mr. Pendergast, in THE MORE THE MERRIER) is also amusing as Manning, the widow's business manager, whose only interest in life is golf. Only Faye Emerson, as the nightclub singer who betrayed Nick while he was overseas and keeps turning up for vague plot purposes, misfires; she sings well, but she's a little too bony, toothy and disgruntled for a femme fatale.

    When someone suggests that after his sabbatical in the army Nick might not be up to conning the widow, he snaps scornfully, "For me that would be like turning over in bed." The same is true for Garfield playing this morally-conflicted-tough-guy role—but he never lets you feel he's just going through the motions. His performance is split between his "Jewish Jimmy Cagney" persona, spitting out lines like, "Come up with a rod and I'll make you eat it," and his sexy romancer mode. When he turns on the charm, his mark starts to melt like a snowman under a sun lamp. (I can sympathize, being a pushover for Garfield myself.) Geraldine Fitzgerald is lovely and gracious, with a frail, childlike innocence guaranteed to soften the toughest guy.

    There are some scenes in smoky back-rooms, and a terrific show-down on a misty oil rig, but this noir is really about as dark as chocolate ice cream. It's full of low-key charm, often stemming from the culture clash between the mugs and the ritzy world they invade. Nick belies his pose as a sophisticate by making paper airplanes out of his program during a concert of classical music. ("Don't you adore Bach?" Manning asks, and Al, awoken from a deep slumber, replies, "Bock? Yeah, cold, with a nice big head on it.") Nick is also uncomfortable leading Gladys through a rumba ("A man looks sort of silly doing this") and looks like a fish out of water when she takes him to the mission of San Juan Capistrano. As was the case with Garfield (the former Julie Garfinkle) in Hollywood, it's precisely Nick's streetwise grit and bad-boy charm that win over the classy dame.

    NOBODY LIVES FOREVER was the last film at Warner Brothers for both Garfield and Fitzgerald, who were equally thrilled to escape the studio. Garfield went on to form an independent company that produced his finest films, including BODY AND SOUL and FORCE OF EVIL. He and many others had good reason to resent the studio's relentless pigeonholing and the poor material they were sometimes forced to accept; but this farewell film is a reminder of what the factory system had going for it: a reliable output of supremely watchable movies. With its witty script, easy craftsmanship and excellent cast, NOBODY LIVES FOREVER is a prime example of how good an average, formulaic studio product could be during Hollywood's "golden age." It's a shame that, like so much of Garfield's output, this film is so hard to find.

  3. IMDBReviewer says:

    This is certainly not one of John Garfield’s more famous films and it’s very possible you have never heard of it or seen it. It is about a con man who finds a rich woman who he intends to swindle. And, due to his smooth and effortless way of lying and ingratiating himself, she soon falls head over heels for the rat! However, despite his supposed heart of stone, he finds that he really does care for the woman and can’t bring himself to hurt her. This is a serious problem, as Garfield’s cohorts are definitely NOT nice people and he knows they will kill him if he double-crosses them.

    This film is a satisfying mix of romance and film noir that deserves a chance.

  4. rgkeenan says:

    Geraldine Fitzgerald gets the glamor treatment here as a young widow about to be bilked by ex-soldier John Garfield in this post-war film. Both stars give wonderful performances and are ably supported by a neat cast consisting of Walter Brennan, Faye Emerson, George Coulouris, George Tobias, and Richard Gaines. Garfield, an experienced con man, comes back from the war changed. Drawn into a scheme to con a rich widow, he finds himself falling for her instead.

    The stars are lovely together, and the film has a rich atmosphere throughout, each setting clearly defining the moment. The nightclub scenes evoke the ’40s postwar feeling, the California scenes are bright and sunny, and the scenes on the pier are spooky and dense with fog. A very good film.

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