Body and Soul has a somewhat familiar title and a likewise familiar narrative. It’s the telling, however, that’s different.
The story concerns a youngster with a punching flair who emerges from the amateurs to ride along the knockout trail to the middleweight championship. But to get himself a crack at the title he has to sell 50 per cent of himself to a bigtime gambler with a penchant for making and breaking champs at will.
There are a flock of loopholes in this story, but interest seldom lags. Some of the ‘inside boxing’ is authentic, but the ‘inside gambling’ is another story in itself, which this pic doesn’t tell. John Garfield is convincing in the lead part, and the boxing scenes look the McCoy.
Poolhall and beer stube environments are effectively captured to indicate the sordidness that backgrounds the early careers of most boxers, who turn to the ring because of a proficiency with their fists on the streetcorner.
Lilli Palmer is miscast as Garfield’s sweetheart and inspiration, especially with a continental accent that even the dialog can’t properly clarify.
1947: Best Editing.
Nominations: Best Actor (John Garfield), Original Screenplay