Too Late for Tears (1949)

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Lizabeth Scott triumphs in an underrated noir classic!
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vt Killer Bait
US / 100 minutes / bw / Hunt Stromberg, UA Dir: Byron Haskin Pr: Hunt Stromberg Scr: Roy Huggins Story: Too Late for Tears (1947, originally serialized in Saturday Evening Post) by Roy Huggins Cine: William Mellor Cast: Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy, Kristine Miller, Barry Kelley, Smoki Whitfield, David Clarke, Billy Halop.

Too Late for Tears - 0 opener

If there was any single movie or actor that set me off on the long and winding course toward writing A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir, Too Late for Tears was that movie and Lizabeth Scott was that actor.

I first watched the movie sometime in the early 2000s. Before that I’d written quite extensively on animation—in fact, I’d not so very long before seen publication of my book Masters of Animation—and on fantasy movies, for The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited by John Clute and myself. I’d been playing around with various ideas for more books on animation and/or the cinema of the fantastic, but then, for some reason—perhaps just because it came on TCM while I was sitting on the couch, who knows?—I found myself watching Too Late for Tears for the first time.

And it felt like coming home.

Of course, I’d watched countless films noirs before then, and liked them a lot—The BLUE DAHLIA (1946) was a particular favorite (have I ever mentioned my longtime crush on Veronica Lake?)—but Continue reading

Tiger Bay (1959)

UK / 102 minutes / bw / Independent Artists, Rank Dir: J. Lee Thompson Pr: John Hawkesworth, Julian Wintle, Leslie Parkyn Scr: John Hawkesworth, Shelley Smith Story: “Rodolphe et le Revolver” (n.d.) by Noël Calef Cine: Eric Cross Cast: John Mills, Horst Buchholz, Hayley Mills, Yvonne Mitchell, Megs Jenkins, Anthony Dawson, Meredith Edwards, Shari, Christopher Rhodes, Kenneth Griffith, George Pastell, George Selway, Marianne Stone, Marne Maitland, Brian Hammond.

After a long stretch at sea, Polish merchant seaman Bronislav “Broni” Korchinsky (Buchholz)—who himself spells his name “Koverzynski”—arrives back in Cardiff docks with £95 back pay in his pocket, intent on proposing to his lover, Anya Haluba (Mitchell). He finds that she’s gone from the flat for which he sent her the rent; it’s now occupied by an evident good-time girl called Christine (Shari). Getting Anya’s new address from seedy landlord Dr. Das (Maitland), Broni goes to have it out with her, en route picking up tomboyish petty pilferer and compulsive liar Gillian “Gillie” Evans (Hayley Mills), who lives in the same block as Anya. There, he finds that Anya has taken up with another man—as we in due course find out, he’s married sports broadcaster Barclay (Dawson). When Anya pulls a gun on Broni they struggle and he takes the weapon from her; moments later, as she shrieks imprecations at him, he shoots her dead in a jealous rage. Watching all this through the flat’s letterbox has been Gillie.

Tiger Bay 1959 - 2 Anya (Yvonne Mitchell) fights fire with fire

Anya (Yvonne Mitchell) fights fire with fire.

Tiger Bay 1959 - 3 Chorister Gillie (Hayley Mills), picture of innocence

Gillie (Hayley Mills) the chorister: butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, would it?

Gillie manages to steal the gun and its remaining bullet. During a wedding at the church in whose choir she sings, she swaps the bullet with a fellow child-chorister, Dai Parry (Hammond). Broni, who knows that she has witnessed at least part of the crime, has followed her to the church; when everyone else has cleared off after the service he Continue reading