John Garfield is sensational in this noir about the corruption in professional boxing and the consequences of our life choices. Abraham Polonsky's script is first class allowing the storyline to develop without unrealistic moralizing from the characters. A must see for fans of film noir and boxing movies!
John Garfield gives a stellar performance here in this gem of a boxing film that heavily influenced the tone of the boxing scenes in Raging Bull and set the tone for all the working class boxing films that followed it. Great acting, a killer script and dialogue, makes this a true masterpiece.
The first time I saw this I thought it was the best boxing film of them all: https://mubi.com/lists/fight-clubs-sweet-science-raging-bull-boxing-ringside-at-the-big-fight-in-fat-city-or-knockout-at-the-one-ring-circus but this time I saw a gritty melodramatic noir with pugilism as a backdrop. Has the film changed or have I changed?
Body and Soul exhales Hollywood all over the place and Rossen proves himself in full domain of its formal and technical devices. Yet, and somehow, it all seems over the top and the script, in the light of our days, is terribly dated. The casting is not the best (even Garfield, that savage actor, is misplaced) and after thirty minutes the storyline gets utterly predictable. In short, effective, but caged to its time.
One of the finest boxing movies ever made. I don't know if John Garfield was ever better than as Charley Davis (perhaps in The Postman Always Rings Twice, but it's close). This is a great film...it's amazing to think how movies like this were turned out so regularly by the studios of the era.
John Garfield was an underrated actor, and this is his greatest performance. Where most boxing movies use the sport to represent redemption, Rossen's film presents it as a corruptive force (the redemption comes from a personal choice at the end, not through the act of boxing itself). A searing indictment of unchecked greed and what can happen when people abandon integrity for personal gains.
A great point of view on sports as a corrupting force and the greed it's able to produce, but I'm just not a fan of boxing movies, and felt that this one failed to offer anything interesting in terms of character development and plot. In fact, it's very Hollywood. In a bad way.