Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Your Typical Noir: "Nobody Lives Forever" (1946)

Nobody Lives Forever (1946) is one of my favorite Noir Films. It stars one of my favorite actors, the ever-troubled John Garfield. It is also unusual in that much of the film takes place in the sunlight instead of the typical Noir darkness and on the beach instead of the city streets. Even then, the dark scenes are shrouded in mist instead of bathed in garish neon lights.
The story begins with Nick Blake (Garfield) getting out of a military hospital. A former con artist, his stint in the army and his injuries have changed his views on life and he is ready for a fresh start. His best pal, Al (George Tobias), is going to make the change with him. 
The first person a guy usually wants to see when he gets out of the army is his girl. Before he left, Blake left his money for safekeeping with his girlfriend Toni (Faye Emerson). He heads to the nightclub in New York City where she works. Upon arriving he sees that business is thriving and presumes that she started it with his dough and made a good profit off of it. But like most women of Film Noir, Toni sold the struggling nightclub to her new boyfriend, Chet King. She tells Blake that his money is gone but he won't stand for that. He roughs up King, gets his dough, and then leaves New York behind for the sunny beaches of California.
In California, Blake rents a bright and spacious beach house. He also meets up with another old friend and fellow conman, Pop Gruber (Walter Brennan). His vacation doesn't last long, however, as he is approached/blackmailed by his old enemy Doc Ganson (George Coulouris) to do one more job. In return, they will leave him alone.
Before he went straight, Blake would con unsuspecting rich widows into sinking their money into phony companies by romancing them. His "assignment" this time is the young and beautiful Gladys Halvorsen (Geraldine Fitzgerald), worth two million. She is traveling with her business manager (Richard Gaines) and isn't having a very good time. He gets her interested in his "company," invites her over to his beach house, and takes her out dinner, dancing, and the theater.
Gladys quickly falls for him and surprises him with a date of her own. She takes him to the old Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra. Its a lovely and poignant scene.
It is there that Blake realizes he is in love with Gladys. He tells Ganson he's not going through with the con and will pay the gang their original cut of the money, $30,000, out of his own funds. He then makes plans with Gladys to leave. Gladys is radiantly happy, and doesn't believe her business manager when he tells her his suspicions of Blake's shady past.
Everything looks like its going to work out for the happy couple when Toni enters back into the picture. She learns of Gladys and convinces the gang that Blake has simply cut them out so he can marry Gladys and get all of her money for himself. Before Blake has a chance to come clean with Gladys, she is kidnapped and taken to an abandoned shack on the dock.

Blake and Pop go after her and the film ends with a climatic noir gunfight. I won't tell you how it ends. You'll have to watch it to find out!
Before I wrap up this post, I want to share a few more screen shots with you. First, this awesome hat:
Front view

Back view

Side view

The brim is removable!!!
And some shots of the Spanish Mission:

This post is part of The Film Noir Blogathon hosted by The Midnite Drive-In. Be sure to check out all the other posts, as well as my post on Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982). 


  1. Sounds intriguing. Haven't seen much John Garfield. But his name seems to come up a lot in relation to this topic. Thanks.

    1. Hope you get a chance to see it someday!! I also really like his last film He Ran All the Way. And of course The Postman Always Rings Twice :)