Too Late for Tears

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Too Late for Tears
Too Late for Tears DVD.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by Hunt Stromberg
Screenplay by Roy Huggins
Based on April 1947 serial in Saturday Evening Post
July 1947 novel
by Roy Huggins[1]
Starring Lizabeth Scott
Don DeFore
Dan Duryea
Arthur Kennedy
Kristine Miller
Music by R. Dale Butts
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Edited by Harry Keller
Production
company
Hunt Stromberg Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • August 13, 1949 (1949-08-13) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Too Late for Tears is a 1949 film noir crime film directed by Byron Haskin and starring Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, and Arthur Kennedy. It tells the story of a ruthless femme-fatale who steals a suitcase containing US$60,000 (equivalent to $632,000 in 2018). The screenplay was written by Roy Huggins, developed from a serial he wrote for the Saturday Evening Post.

The film was reissued as Killer Bait in 1955. Too Late for Tears has been in the public domain for many years and has since gained a cult following; there are several different edits of the film with different running times.[2] On January 25, 2014, a restored 35mm print was premiered by the Film Noir Foundation at Noir City 12 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The film was restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Film Noir Foundation, with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association providing some of the necessary funding. The restoration combined 35mm dupe negative elements from France with some material from surviving 35mm and 16mm prints.[3]

Plot

Don DeFore and Lizabeth Scott

Jane and Alan Palmer (Scott and Kennedy) are driving to a party in the Hollywood Hills when someone in another car throws a satchel into the back seat of their convertible. They open it and discover bundles of cash. They are chased by yet another car with Jane at the wheel and she recklessly makes a high speed turn on a crossroad and gets away. Back at their Hollywood apartment, they examine what Alan estimates to be $100,000 in cash. Jane wants to keep the money; Alan wants to take it to the police, but when earlier given the chance to confess to a police officer who pulled them over for failing to use his turn signal, he can't bring himself to do it. They eventually decide to hold the cash for a week and leave the satchel at the baggage claim at Union Station, while they figure out what to do with it.

The next day, Danny (Duryea) shows up at the Palmers' apartment while Alan is at work, tells Jane he is a detective and quickly learns she has begun spending his money. Jane lies that they have surrendered the money to the police and Danny threatens to return if there is no news in the papers about the police having the money. Alan returning home likewise becomes upset when he finds Jane with a fur coat and knows she has been spending the money they had agreed to leave untouched.

Danny returns the next day and under his persistent questioning, Jane confesses to Danny that she has the money, and makes a deal with him to split the money. Jane and Alan had planned a romantic evening together to make amends for their squabbling about the money. She asks Danny to meet her that night at the palm tree at the west end of Westlake Park near downtown Los Angeles, where she will signal him from a boat. On the boat with Alan, Jane feels a pang of guilt, then blurts out that she wants to send the claim check for the locker to the police. Unaware of why his wife is upset, Alan wants a cigarette and picks up her purse and his gun falls out. Jane grabs the gun and points it at Alan, they struggle, and the gun goes off killing Alan. Jane drives the boat and signals Danny and he gets on the boat. Danny sees the body and fears getting involved in a murder, but Jane has the gun on him and threatens to tell the police he killed her husband unless he helps her. After dumping the body in the lake, weighted by the boat's anchor, Jane and Danny leave the boat launch together so as to mislead witnesses into thinking she left with her husband. She reports Alan to the police as a missing person. Planning to kill Danny, she later meets him and drives him up into the hills on the pretense they will retrieve the cash where it's been buried. He suspects her intentions and when the car stops after a near accident, he gets out and flees.

Miller as Kathy Palmer

Don Blake (DeFore) appears at the Palmer apartment, where he discovers Alan's sister Kathy (Kristine Miller) leaving surreptitiously, having used her spare key to enter the couple’s apartment to search it. Don introduces himself to her as an old Army Air Corps buddy of Alan's on vacation in Los Angeles. Kathy lives across the hall and has grown worried about her missing brother. She is leery of Jane, whose previous husband had a mysterious death. Jane finds out that Don is lying and never knew Alan and hits him over the head with a pistol. Retrieving the cash from the baggage claim at Union Station, Jane goes to Danny's, finds him drunk and suspicious. She asks him to help her run away but she needs to know where the money came from and if it is safe to spend it. Danny says it was a "once in a lifetime" blackmail payoff from an insurance scam. She understands this means the money is unmarked and its disappearance won't be reported to the police. She kills Danny with a poisoned drink, using the poison Danny had earlier procured for her to use in a scheme to eliminate her sister-in-law.

After finding Danny's body, the Los Angeles police tell Don that if he wants the small lake at Westlake Park dragged in search of Jane's missing husband, it'll cost thousands of dollars and that they don't believe his theories. Jane flees with the money to Mexico City, where she has a penthouse at the posh Reforma Hotel. Don turns up at her door. Concluding he is either after the money or with the police, Jane pleads with him to take half. Don tells her he is the brother of Jane's earlier, first husband, Bob Blanchard, and that he now understands how she could have driven him to kill himself. As Mexican police detectives rush into the room, Jane holds them at bay with her gun and backs away in tears onto a balcony, where she trips over the suitcase with the money and screams as she falls over the railing to her death. Don meets Kathy in the lobby and apologizes for the short honeymoon.

Cast

Reception

Critical response

When the film was released The New York Times wrote:

If proof be needed at this point that money is the root of all evil—a theme, incidentally, which has been the root of more than one motion picture—then Too Late for Tears, which came to the Mayfair on Saturday, is proof positive. For producer Hunt Stromberg, director Byron Haskin and scenarist Roy Huggins, who adapted his own Saturday Evening Post serial, herein have fashioned an effective melodramatic elaboration of that theme. Despite an involved plot and an occasional overabundance of palaver, not all of which is bright, this yarn about a cash-hungry dame who doesn't let men or conscience stand in her way, is an adult and generally suspenseful adventure.[4]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz also wrote a favorable review:

Byron Haskin's low-budget film noir makes good use of its Los Angeles locale and its lady bluebeard is fun to watch as she does her nasty gun thing with her nice guy hubby and rotten poison thing with her boyfriend (she took care of her first hubby off camera, so we're not sure how he got it!)...Though a minor film noir, it relates to the ambitions the middle-class had during the postwar period to better their life materially and socially. Jane's drive for wealth was so extreme that she will not stop at murder to rise above her impoverished middle-class circumstances, and her warped character is used to show how money can't buy one happiness. The husky-voiced winsome smiling Lizabeth Scott turns in a finely tuned performance as the femme fatale; while Dan Duryea is in his element as the alcoholic weak-kneed cad, who shows he doesn't have as much stomach for his criminal mischief as does his lady accomplice.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=20980
  2. ^ Too Late For Tears on IMDb
  3. ^ Jeremy Arnold, “Too Late for Tears (1949)”, TCM.com (Retrieved 2018-12-25.)
  4. ^ A. W. (August 15, 1949). "The Screen In Review; 'Too Late for Tears,' Adult and Suspenseful Adventure Film, Is New Bill at Mayfair". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2011. (Subscription required (help)).
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, February 22, 2005. Last accessed: February 15, 2011.

External links

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