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

Kiss to Die For, A (1993)

vt Those Bedroom Eyes
US / 91 minutes / color with some bw / Hearst, Polone, NBC Dir: Leon Ichaso Pr: Kimberly Myers Scr: Deborah Dalton Cine: Jeffrey Jur Cast: Tim Matheson, Mimi Rogers, William Forsythe, Carlos Gomez, Carroll Baker, Nina Jones, Susie Spear, Johnny Popwell, Challen Cates, Deborah Hobart, Orestes Matacena.

A Kiss to Die For - 0 opener

Still desolated three years after the death of his wife Kate in a train crash, or guilty over the fact that he no longer misses her and can’t even remember the last time they made love, psychology prof William Tauber (Matheson) decides to end it all by throwing himself off a train. Just as he’s about to do so, a passing beautiful stranger, interior designer Ali Broussard (Rogers), saves his life. She also takes him to his sleeper compartment on the train and gives him a pretty convincing carnal reason why life might be worth living after all.

A Kiss to Die For - 1 William readies to suicide

William (Tim Matheson) readies himself for the terminal plunge.

After they disembark at their joint destination, Ali tries to persuade William that this was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, that he should accept it for what it was and not expect anything more. Understandably, he’s not so eager to let things lie. He has her business card—she owns a little company called The Decorator’s Touch—and in due course Continue reading

Passport to Hell, A (1932)

vt Burnt Offering
US / 76 minutes / bw / Fox Dir: Frank Lloyd Scr: Bradley King, Leon Gordon Story: “Burnt Offering” (seemingly unpublished) by Harry Hervey Cine: John Seitz Cast: Elissa Landi, Paul Lukas, Warner Oland, Alexander Kirkland, Donald Crisp, Yola d’Avril, Ivan Simpson, Eva Dennison, Anders Van Hayden, John Lester Johnson, Vera Morrison.

Passport to Hell - 0 opener

On the eve of WWI, Myra Carson (Landi) is deported from Akkra/Accra, in British West Africa, to Duala/Douala, in the Kamerun/Cameroon—part of German West Africa. A gambling-addicted UK national has apparently committed suicide over her, the last straw for the straitlaced UK military authorities, who’ve been itching for an excuse to expel her—after all, was she not named as co-respondent in a London scandal, and has she not been bouncing from one country to another ever since, giving her occupation always as “oh, just traveling”? The officer (uncredited) in charge of kicking her out clearly relishes his task; the young man who supervises her departure, Lieutenant Enright (uncredited), equally clearly reckons she’s been given a bum deal—although it’s hard for us to work out quite what he means by a remark to the effect that she’s been kind to a lot of the lads.

Once Myra’s ship arrives off Duala, there’s passport authorization to go through. Baron von Sydow (Oland), Commander of the German Colonial Military Police, has decreed that Continue reading