Day 18 of Noirvember: Leona Charles in The Breaking Point (1950)

Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on Leona Charles in The Breaking Point (1950).

Alluring Leona.

WHAT’S THE BREAKING POINT ABOUT?

World War II veteran Harry Morgan (John Garfield) operates a boat charter business in California, but his proceeds are barely enough to make the payments on the boat, let alone support his wife and two young daughters. Desperate for cash when he’s stiffed by a client, Harry enters into a scheme spearheaded by a crooked lawyer (Wallace Ford), but finds himself digging a hole so deep he may not be able to climb out. And making matters worse is a beautiful blonde, Leona Charles (Patricia Neal), who keeps popping up like a bad penny.

INTRODUCING LEONA CHARLES:

Leona enters the picture with Mr. Hannagan (Ralph Dumke), who charters Harry’s boat for a fishing trip to Mexico. From the second she steps aboard, Leona is fairly oozing sass and sex appeal: “I always wanted to meet a captain,” she purrs when she’s introduced to Harry. While Hannagan is fishing, Leona spends most of her time on the boat with Harry, lying provocatively beside him, or leaning against him as she shares, “I love Mexico.” And when Harry tells her to be nice, she scoffs, “Yeah, nice. No future in it.” She couldn’t be more clear about her intentions if she carried a sign.

WHY DID I PICK LEONA?

She’s unpredictable, flirty, quick with a quip. Relaxed and carefree. She goes with the flow. And she doesn’t give a damn about your rules or conventions. She’s not nice, and I wouldn’t want her as a friend, but I’d love to hang out with her at a cocktail party.

FROM THE MOUTH OF LEONA:

“Everything in Mexico is nice. It’s romantic. Except you. You haven’t even been friendly to me. Don’t you want to be friendly?”

PLAYED BY PATRICIA NEAL:

Patricia Louise Neal was born in a mining camp in Packard, Kentucky, on January 20, 1926, one of three children. She grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee; by the time she entered high school, she had won the Tennessee State Award for dramatic reading. Neal studied drama for two years at Northwestern University in Chicago, where her classmates included future performers Jean Hagen and Ralph Meeker, then moved to New York, securing work as a model. In 1945, she got a job understudying Vivian Vance in The Voice of the Turtle on Broadway, but her big break came the following year when starred in Another Part of the Forest, earning a Tony Award for Best Actress and landing on the cover of Life magazine. Her acclaim attracted the attention of Hollywood, and Neal made her big screen debut in John Loves Mary (1949), playing a senator’s daughter engaged to ex-GI Ronald Reagan. The following year, she entered the realm of noir with The Breaking Point. For more on the life and career of Patricia Neal, click here.

And join me in the shadows tomorrow for Day 19 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 18, 2021.

4 Responses to “Day 18 of Noirvember: Leona Charles in The Breaking Point (1950)”

  1. Leona is quite something. Certainly not someone who should ever be left alone with an unsuspecting husband or BF.
    Her outrageously playful and provocative act is perilously close to parody, she comes on so strong.

    I see her more as a good-time-girl than a femme fatale, simply because she’s not evil but world-weary and underneath it all scared stiff of life. Patricia Neal gives the character a lot of depth.

    • She’s definitely not a femme fatale to me either — more self-absorbed than anything, and trying to grab for all the gusto she can before her looks and figure fade. I think your assessment is spot on.

  2. I love the understated showdown in the bar between Leona and Lucy while the tipsy Harry is absolutely clueless. Wonderful performances from actors who know their stuff.

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