Friday, October 11, 2019

I'll cry some day or another

Susan Hayward made a whole bunch of melodramatic potboilers in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of them were even based on real events, such as I'll Cry Tomorrow.

Hayward plays singer Lillian Roth, although we don't see Hayward at first, as the story briefly starts with Lillian's childhood. Her mom Katie (Jo Van Fleet) is a stage mother, pushing Lillian into performing on Broadway, even though Lillian would rather play with neighborhood friends like David. If there was any upside to the pushing, it was that it provided Lillian with the opportunity for a career, as she would become a successful singer and actress.

Adult Lillian still loved David (played as an adult by Ray Danton), and he can help her career because he's an entertainment lawyer. But Mom doesn't like him, thinking he'll slow down Lillian's career, so she tries to sabotage their relationship. Worse, David gets some sort of sickness that kills him at a young age, dying in hospital while Lillian, who was going to marry him, is performing so she can't be by his side when he dies. She drowns her sorrow in drink, meeting hard-drinking serviceman Willie (Don Taylor). Their nights out on the town lead to more drinking with the two even getting married one one of those benders, Lillian only realizing the next day that she's married.

But the drinking is beginning to have a negative effect on Lillian's life. Eventually the marriage breaks up at which point Lillian meets Tony (Richard Conte), who is also an alcoholic but who knows that he can't have another drink. If she learns one thing from her relationship with Tony, it's not that she shouldn't be drinking, but that she should be hiding her drinking so that everybody will be thinking she isn't drinking when in fact she is. (Good luck with that.)

Lillian's life gets enough out of control that she thinks about throwing herself out of the window of one of those crappy old hotels that seemed to dot New York in old movies, but of course she doesn't do it. Instead, she winds up going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

I'll Cry Tomorrow is a movie that I found a bit odd for a whole bunch of reasons. It was made at MGM, and despite Hayward's scenery chewing, the MGM portrayal of alcoholism seems a bit too neat and tidy. Hayward's acting also causes the movie to veer into unintentional comedy at times, and the movie is certainly unsubtle. Hayward also did her own singing, which isn't bad but not something she could have made a career out of.

I'll Cry Tomorrow is certainly worth one watch, although I'm not certain it's one I'd want to revisit. It got a release to DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive, but oddly enough it's one of those that's available at Amazon but not currently at the TCM Shop.

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