Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Too Late For Tears

Last weekend, I finally got around to watching the DVR of Too Late For Tears that I made at the end of December when TCM honored some of the people who died in 2015. In the case of this movie, that honoree was Lizabeth Scott. The movie has been released to DVD on several inexpensive editions, although there was a more recent restoration so I think those DVDs don't have the best print. In any case, however, since there are DVDs available I feel comfortable doing a review of a movie that I don't think is coming up on TV any time soon.

The movie opens with Jane Palmer riding in a convertible in the Hollywood hills with her husband Alan (Arthur Kennedy) one evening on the way to a party she doesn't want to attend, because the hostess is better off than the Palmers. Jane, in fact is particularly money-obsessed; she married her first husband for money but he committed suicide after he lost his wealth. But back to the present, where things are about to get a lot more interesting for the Palmers regarding money.

There's another car stopped on the side of the road, going in the opposite direction. The driver of that car is involved in some shady business, as we can presume from what happens when the Palmers drive past him: he throws a satchel onto the back seat of the convertible. Good thing they didn't have the top up. Of course, when something that out of the ordinary happens, you have to stop , if not to find the person who did it, then to find out what they threw. The Palmers open up the satchel, and discover that it's loaded to the gills with cash! In small, non-sequentially demoninated banknotes, one presumes. In fact it's something like $60,000 in cash, which is a pretty tidy sum by late 1940s standards. Alan quite rightly assumes that they should just turn the satchel over to the police, but Jane wants that money! Eventually, the two compromise, and check the satchel at Union Station, where they plan to leave it for a couple days to see how it will affect them.

That money has certainly affected somebody else, however. That somebody is Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea), the man for whom the cash was intended. He drove up to make the transfer not long after the Palmers, and was obviously able to get their license plate number, which is how he's able to find Jane at home in her apartment the next day. He wants that money, and if Jane doesn't give it back to him, he's going to be mighty ticked! In her greed, she comes up with an even more audacious plan: double-cross Alan, pick up the money from the baggage claim, and run off with Alan. Or that's her story; one can guess that she's probably trying to come up with a way to double-cross Danny, too.

Two other people complicate this tale of greed. One is Kathy (Kristine Miller), Alan's sister, who just happens to across the hall from her brother and sister-in-law. She has the distinct impression that something isn't quite right -- to the point that she has a pass-key and is able to spy on her relatives. And then there's Don Blake (Don DeFore). He shows up as Alan's old Army buddy from World War II, but both Kathy and Jane get the impression that he's not telling the truth. Is he a detective? Is he Danny's partner in crime? Or is he really telling the truth?

Too Late For Tears starts off interesting, and then gets even more interesting with a lot of twists and turns. At times you may think that some of these plot twists are wholly unrealistic, and to be honest, they are. But they make for a story that's never less than entertaining as you try to figure out what's going to happen to whom. If the movie has one problem, it's that it was made during the Production Code. You have to assume that Jane is going to have to be punished if she really is as greedy as she's portraying herself to be. Either that, or some sort of deus ex machina twist that wouldn't fit with the rest of the movie. Still, the story is good, and the actors do a pretty good job too. Scott is poisonous as the bad woman; Arthur Kennedy is solid but doesn't get enough screen time; Dan Duryea is as good as ever playing the nasty guy; and Kristine Miller does fine although it's a shame her career didn't go anywhere.

As I said at the beginning, the movie has gotten a bunch of DVD releases although they're supposedly of poor prints. TCM showed a copy of the restoration, and it looked quite good.

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