Sunday, January 08, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Tomorrow is Another Day (1951)

The somewhat oddly named TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY is a very enjoyable film about a man trying to start fresh after 18 years in prison. He finds love in his new life, but he also encounters very serious complications which threaten to send him back behind bars.

Bill Clark (Steve Cochran) was sent to prison as a teenager for killing his abusive stepfather. His attempts to start a new life upon his release are thwarted by newspaper publicity. The lonely Bill meets a dance hall hostess named Cay (Ruth Roman); Cay is a tough cookie without much patience for the socially awkward Bill, yet she finds she can't say no to spending time with him.

Bill and Cay are soon in very hot water due to an incident in which Cay's, er, "boyfriend" is shot in her seedy apartment. The pair go on the run together, ending up working in California farm country. But life has a way of catching up...

This film is one of those little movies you may never have heard of which has many strong points and is worth checking out. I found the noir-turned-romance most enjoyable and entertaining. It's an interesting and absorbing story, and the viewer really roots for Bill and Cay to make good.

Ruth Roman is excellent, although I must say it's a bit strange how completely her character transforms from hardbitten, calculating dime-a-dance femme fatale to a devoted, loving wife, simply with a change in hair color from blonde to brunette! Cay -- or Cathy, as Bill calls her -- becomes a completely different person. That said, I liked her much better in the second half of the film, so I'm not really complaining.

I was unfamiliar with Roman prior to seeing her in COLT .45 (1950) and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). I've enjoyed her in each of these movies. Thanks to TCM, I've picked up several of her films in a very short time frame, and I look forward to seeing more of her work as the year goes on.

Cochran does a terrific job portraying his character's naivete and awkwardness after so many years in prison, while also conveying Bill's basic decency. And it must be said he's also very easy on the eyes! I've previously only seen Cochran in bit parts, and I'll be looking for more of his films in the future.

Ray Teal and Lurene Tuttle are appealing as farm workers who take the young couple under their wing and help them out. The cast also includes Morris Ankrum, Bobby Hyatt, John Kellogg, Lee Patrick, Harry Antrim, and Walter Sande.

One of this film's really noteworthy aspects is the beautiful black and white cinematography by Robert Burks. TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY was filmed the very same year that Burks began his long collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, shooting STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). Ruth Roman, of course, was also the leading lady in that film.

I also especially appreciated the art direction and set decoration, by Charles H. Clarke and William L. Kuehl. I found the gradual way Bill and Cay improve their tiny home in the agricultural workers' camp to be really interesting.

This film was directed by Felix Feist. It runs 90 minutes.

TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY is available from the Warner Archive.

It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies, which just showed the film this weekend.

For more thoughts on this film, visit Classic Movie Ramblings.

Update: Just came across a really thoughtful review of this film at Where Danger Lives. I loved Mark's analysis. And be sure to read the comment at the end by Mr. Film Noir himself, Eddie Muller.

May 2015 Update: I had a wonderful experience seeing this film again on a big screen at the 2015 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Darn. You make me sorry I missed this one.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

I happened to catch up with on its TCM showing too (actually recorded it while away and watched it the night after we got back). I liked it very much--its mood did change a lot probably at about the point that Ruth Roman changed her hair color, as you intimate. Steve Cochran didn't get much sympathetic casting like this--they usually looked at him and saw a good-looking heavy (WHITE HEAT has one of his best roles in this vein) but he can project a lot of complexity. I'm guessing Antonioni saw this film before casting Cochran in IL GRIDO.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hope you get to see it soon, Caftan Woman! Bet you'd like it.

Blake, that's great you also saw it this weekend. I'm very glad I had the chance to catch up with it so close to TCM actually showing it -- that doesn't happen so many times! It was curious how the movie starts out as a noir and then really shifts gears, although the gun still comes out again at the end. I really wish Cochran had had more parts like this.

I hope to soon watch another Ruth Roman film TCM just showed, the Western BARRICADE with Dane Clark. Apparently it's a landlocked version of THE SEA WOLF. I could definitely see Dane Clark doing the Garfield-type part.

Best wishes,

12:40 AM  

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