Review: Too Late for Tears


Too Late for Tears is a classic film noir from 1949 from director Byron Haskin. The film is based on a “Saturday Evening Post” serial and screenplay by Roy Huggins. This film had fallen into public domain and good copies of this film where hard to come by. Thanks to The  Film Noir Foundation we got a restored version that took 5 years to complete. The restored version debuted on Turner Classic Movies this summer and has been shown fairly regularly on TCM since.


This film has two of noir fans favorites in it, Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea.


This film starts with Jane Palmer(Lizabeth Scott) and her husband,
Alan Palmer played by Arthur Kennedy, driving down a back road when Jane wants to go back home. They argue and the car swerves back and forth. When they pass an oncoming car, somebody throws a bag full of money into their car.

Jane always wanting to have money, wants to keep the cash. Alan wants to give the money to the police, knowing it will cause problems. Jane talks him into keeping it for two weeks before they make a decision. Things turn worse when Danny Fuller( Dan Duryea) comes looking for his money. Things get out of hand fast for Jane, who does whatever it takes to keep the money.

Things get even more dire when Alan’s sister Kathy played by  Kristine Miller and a strange man Don played by  Don DeFore both suspect something is a miss.


If you get a chance to see a restored copy of this film, jump on it. If you are a Lizabeth Scott fan, it is a must see. Scott’s Jane maybe one of the deadliest ladies in film noir. She isn’t just a femme fatale, using her charms to get what she wants, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty herself.


Re-watching the Classics: Ministry of Fear

Here is a classic film noir from Fritz Lang made in 1944.  It stars Ray Milland and is based on a book by Graham Greene.  How could you go wrong?  Well I would say Lang phoned this one in, if you ask me.  I’m not saying it is a horrible movie, but it isn’t the “Masterpiece of Suspense” it is advertised as.

Our story starts with Milland going to the train station and taking a detour to a carnival by the station.  He tries his hand at a game where he needs to guess the weight of a cake.  He doesn’t win the cake, so he goes to the fortune-teller.  The fortune-teller is played by Aminta Dyne but for some reason the fortune-teller changes to Hillary Brooke later in the film.  The fortune-teller tells Milland the weight of the cake, he walks out and plays that game again and wins the cake!  Another man played by noir great Dan Duryea shows up and the fortune-teller knows she made a mistake.  They try to take the cake away from Milland to no avail.  Milland gets on the train and a blind man joins him.  The blind man eventually steals the cake and runs into a bombing area.  There is a chase and the blind man(who isn’t blind) gets blown up.  Milland starts to investigate the cake incident on his own and the mystery continues.  We have a séance, followed by a murder.  We learn Milland has recently been to a mental institution for basically helping his sick wife commit suicide.  This has a lot of elements that should add up to a great noir, but for me it felt a little flat.

Marjorie Reynolds plays Milland’s love interest in this. In my opinion Hillary Brooke does a great femme fatale in this, and steals the show, she just isn’t in the film very much.

This is the second time I’ve watched this, I was not impressed the first time I seen it and thought I would give it another shot because I have become such a big fan of Fritz Lang’s stuff.  Like I said I’m not saying this is a bad movie, it’s just disappointing given the talent involved.  This is worth watching for classic film noir fans and if you want to see everything by Lang.  If you are not familiar with Lang I recommend watching some of his other work.  Scarlet Street is still one of my favorites of his.

Review: The Burglar

The Burglar is a film based on a book and screenplay by noir great David Goodis.  Goodis went to Hollywood after the massive success of the movie Dark Passage was based on his novel.  He got flustered with the Hollywood machine and moved to Philadelphia.  Who knew the Philadelphia movie industry would come calling.  When Philadelphia wanted to showcase their city like Los Angles and New York were doing, they looked at one of their own to write a screenplay based on his book.

This movie was actually made in 1955 and shelved.  This was probably more frustration with the movie industry Goodis would feel.  Luckily Producer Louis W. Kellman cast the relatively unknown Jayne Mansfield in a role, this was based on how guys were reacting to her on the set of Pete Kelly’s Blues, where she had a small part.  Kellman was not the only one to see something in Mansfield, movie goers fell in love with her after they saw her in The Girl Can’t Help It in 1956 and her star was on the rise.  This movie was finally released in 1957 because of her new-found star power.

This was also the first film directed by Paul Wendkos who went on to direct many television projects and movies with a very long career.  Columbia bought this film as a favor, but wanted Wendkos as part of the deal.

This film also stars one of noir’s favorite actors, Dan Duryea as our title character.  This film can be argued to have two femme fatales, they both contribute to our hero’s downfall.  Of course we have Mansfield as the girl our hero has vowed to protect and we have Martha Vickers as the girl our hero picks up in a bar, she happens to be working with a crooked cop, out to get our hero.

This story starts out with our hero and his crew robbing a rich women of her priceless necklace.  The burglary is an intense scene, with our hero outsmarting some cops and using his skill to break into a fortress to steal the necklace.  They go back to their hideout to determine the value of the necklace and what the split will be.  This is where we meet Mansfield and soon see she is in danger from an over lusting member of the crew.  Our hero sends her to Atlantic City for her own safety.  Duryea picks up Vickers in a bar and goes back to her house.  While she thinks he is asleep she goes to meet the crooked cop as our hero tails her and he learns they are working him and Mansfield to find the necklace.  Our gang of burglars take off from Philadelphia to Atlantic City to protect Mansfield even though they know this will put them in danger.

This is a good film and the finale on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk with scenes in a circus and carnival settings is very good.  Did Lady of Shanghai inspire this?  Worth watching for all noir fans and especially those of Goodis’ writing.  Goodis didn’t have much luck in America, but he would soon be discovered by the French and elevated to one of the greatest noir writers ever.

Favorite Tidbit:  This was remade in France as The Burglars, the second of a string of movies made over the next three decades in France based on Goodis’ books.

Review: Scarlet Street

Poster - Scarlet Street_02

Scarlet Street is another great film-noir from Fritz Lang.  We have our everyday man and noir staple Edward G. Robinson in the lead.  Joan Bennett as our femme fatale and Dan Duryea as a con and thug trying to get ahead.  This story starts out with our hero at a company party for his 25 years on the job.  He leaves drunk and sees a beautiful women getting beat by a man.  He intervenes and stops it, he walks the women home and stops to have a drink with her.  He is infatuated with the much younger women and she seems to like him as well.  The only problem, he’s married to a battle-ax he can no longer stand.  You think you might guess the plot from here, but you would be wrong.  This is one of the most intricate plots, with so many twists and turns, I can’t believe they got all this story to fit into less than 2 hours of movie.  One of the surprising and shocking things of this movie is the abuse towards women, the way it is portrayed makes it look common and just part of life for the time.  The couple out to get ahead is very co-dependent and I found very disturbing.  This movie has no truly innocent or good characters, all are willing to do anything to get what they want.  None of them want the same thing, but use each other in a way that makes for one intense movie.

The other star of this movie is the art, it’s funny that this and my last film-noir review (See my review of Laura) have a portrait of the lead lady that is amazing.  I didn’t realize this when I watched them a couple of days apart, but is a cool coincidence.  The art in this film is very cool.


This may be the darkest classic film noir I’ve seen thus far.  There is no gangsters and guns in this movie and that might be what makes this so dark.  I think this is my favorite Fritz Lang film I’ve seen so far.  This isn’t a widely watched noir but it should be.  This film has a 7.9 on IMDb with less than 9,000 votes, and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes but with only 13 reviews.  This film did fall out of copyright protection, so make sure you watch a good version of this that isn’t to cut up and distorted. I watched it on TCM, always a reliable source for classic films.