Sunday, January 28, 2018

And yet there's no Scarlett O'Hara here

TCM's Noir Alley offering this week was Tomorrow Is Another Day. It's a movie that I hadn't seen before, but it's available on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive so I sat down and watched it as it aired so I could do a full-length post on it.

Steve Cochran plays Bill Clark, who at the start of the movie is getting out of prison after serving 18 years for killing his father. This even though the crime occurred when Bill was only 13; you'd think he would have been tried as a juvenile and released at 21. Anyhow, there are a couple of consequences to being a notorious killer who spent once's adolescence in jail: Bill will have a lot of doors closed to him, while he's also had no contact with women. Bill tries to get a job in his old home town, but one of the reporters writes a story about him, so he feels forced to leave.

Bill winds up in New York, looking for women and eventually winding up at a dance hall stocked with a bunch of taxi dancers. Among them is Cay Higgins (Ruth Roman sporting a bleached blonde look). She's thoroughly professional, which means she takes Bill's tickets and flatters him but doesn't let him get any closer than that since it's not professionally allowed. Bill, having gone through puberty in prison and not understanding sexual relationships at all, gets all the wrong messages and decides that this is the right woman for him to try starting his first relationship with.

Bill more or less stalks Cay until following her back to her apartment for the equivalent of a nightcap. But already in the apartment is police detective Conover (Hugh Sanders), who apparently has Cay as an illicit girl on the side, claiming he pays her rent. Conover is not one bit happy to see Bill show up, and a scuffle ensues with Conover pulling out his service gun and knocking Bill out. Cay winds up with the gun, shooting Conover in self-defense, or at least what could be a plausible self-defense claim if there were a neutral observer there. But there isn't so Cay has to leave while the wounded Conover leaves for help. Bill later finds out that Conover died, and has no idea what really happened.

Eventually, Bill and Cay wind up on the run, getting married and Bill changing his name to Mike Lewis and making their way across country. Once they hit California, they meet a family with car trouble, the Dawsons (Ray Teal and Lurene Tuttle with kid Robert Hyatt). Bill/Mike helps the Dawsons fix their tire, and the Dawsons repay the kindness by getting Mike and Cay jobs in the lettuce industry. However, their kid comes across an article in a crime magazine with a mug shot of Bill who is wanted for questioning in the Conover shooting, setting up the film's climax....

Tomorrow Is Another Day is a movie with a lot of interesting ideas even if it's not really treading any new material here. Cochran and Roman are both effective in their roles, as are Teal and Tuttle as support. The one big problem with the movie is the ending, although you get the impression this wasn't the original ending.

I'm not certain what movie I'd pick if I were going to introduce somebody to noir, although I'd probably pick something more famous. For anybody who already enjoys noir, however, Tomorrow Is Another Day is an excellent addition to the cycle.

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