Looking Back at a Half-Forgotten Pioneer of Method Acting

Isaac Butler at The New Yorker:

The Criterion Channel is hosting a retrospective of films featuring the late John Garfield, a superstar of the nineteen-forties whose body of work has long gone under-recognized. In the course of a career that stretched from the height of the studio system to the depths of the Red Scare, Garfield pioneered a new, naturalistic approach to acting for the camera, one rooted in the same techniques that would soon be called the Method. Garfield died in 1952, his performances overshadowed by the actors who followed him—particularly Marlon Brando, who rose to fame playing Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a role that Garfield turned down. Brando, despite his protestations to the contrary, was often credited as the first Method movie star, the one who inspired generations of young men to move to New York and learn the Method at its high temple, the Actors Studio. It’s tempting to see Garfield, who worked as the doorman for the first session of the Actors Studio, in 1947, as also holding the door of acting history open for BrandoMontgomery Clift, James Dean, Ben Gazzara, Paul Newman, and others to walk through. But Garfield is much more than a footnote.

more here.