Monday, May 09, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Too Late For Tears (1949) - A Flicker Alley Blu-ray Review

The last night of the Noir City Film Festival on April 24th kicked off with a celebration of the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD releases of TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) and WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950).

A special encore showing of the restored 35mm print of TOO LATE FOR TEARS took place that night at the Egyptian Theatre, where the movie had previously been screened as part of the 2014 Noir City Festival.

The screening was preceded by a wine and cheese reception in the theater, with representatives of Flicker Alley on hand to offer Noir City guests the opportunity to buy the sets ahead of the mid-May release date.

As I wrote last January, these new Flicker Alley releases are of UCLA restorations and are being put out in conjunction with the Film Noir Foundation; the UCLA and Film Noir Foundation logos both appear on the covers along with Flicker Alley's name.

Film noir fans should note that it's hoped that if there is enough interest in this pair of initial releases, the Film Noir Foundation will be able to team with Flicker Alley to release more rare noir titles in the future. According to the Film Noir Foundation website,"The release of more FNF titles will depend largely on the sales numbers of these first two discs. REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947), HIGH TIDE (1947), and THE GUILTY (1947) are likely candidates for later release, as are some of the Argentinian noir films recently resurrected by the FNF." (My past reviews of each title may be found at the links in this paragraph.)

I had also seen TOO LATE FOR TEARS in 2015, but I never seem to tire of its twisty tale of a murderous housewife. In fact, not only did I watch the movie again at the Egyptian Theatre, but I've just finished watching the movie a fourth time via the Blu-ray, while listening to the commentary track by the Film Noir Foundation's Alan K. Rode.

The Blu-ray print of TOO LATE FOR TEARS looks as terrific as the 35mm print I've watched multiple times, and it's a joy to have it available for purchase, especially considering that terrible public domain prints were the only way to see the movie for years.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS tells the tale of a greedy, unhappy L.A. housewife named Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott), whose world is rocked when a bag filled with cash is tossed into the convertible she's riding in with her husband Alan (Arthur Kennedy).

Jane convinces Alan not to take the bag to the police, and instead they put it in storage at Union Station while they ponder what to do about it. Alan thinks Jane will come to her senses and agree to turn in the money, but instead she starts to drain their bank account, splurging on items such as a mink coat. (Incidentally, the one thing I've never figured out in my many viewings is why Jane married Alan in the first place...)

Then one day Danny (Dan Duryea) shows up at Jane and Alan's apartment, having traced their license plate, and he wants his money back. Jane's got to figure out how to keep both Alan and Danny happy while hanging on to the money herself, and before you can blink she's plotting hubby's death, and who knows, she might just want to get rid of Danny as well...or her suspicious sister-in-law Kathy (Kristine Miller)...nothing's going to stand between Jane and that bag of cash!

As Alan Rode points out in the commentary, Jane is so evil that she actually makes Duryea's sleazy bad guy seem sympathetic! The two play wonderfully off each other, with Scott's innate weirdness being the perfect foil for Duryea's sarcasm. As I wrote back in 2014, Duryea's delivery of Roy Huggins' great lines really makes the movie sing. It's not only a terrific crime film, it's funny and memorable; no one will ever forget Duryea calling Jane "Tiger."

Miller's sweet Kathy and Don DeFore as Alan's old army buddy Don provide a refreshingly normal contrast to Scott and Duryea's characters, as together they set out to figure out Alan's disappearance. Miller and DeFore are a pair of underrated actors without whom the movie wouldn't be as good as it is.

Kennedy also gives a solid performance, as he always does; an interesting bit from Rode's commentary was that Kennedy accepted the relatively thankless role of the hapless hubby so that he could afford to return to Broadway to costar in DEATH OF A SALESMAN.

The small cast is rounded out by Barry Kelley, Jimmie Dodd, Billy Halop, and June Storey.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS was directed by Byron Haskin and filmed in black and white by William C. Mellor. Roy Huggins' script was based on his own story. The movie runs 99 minutes.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS is a "fully loaded" combination Blu-ray and DVD set with extras which call to mind the quality of the Criterion Collection. There is a 15-minute "making of" documentary, a brief but interesting featurette on the restoration, and the previously referenced full-length commentary track. There is also a very attractive glossy 24-page booklet with photos and an essay by Brian Light.

My only criticism of the "making of" featurette was I wished it had been long enough to include information on the film's appealing supporting players, Don DeFore and Kristine Miller. However, Rode provides plenty on these actors in his engaging commentary, which is chock full of production details and biographical information and anecdotes. It's a particularly enjoyable commentary track, so noir fans will want to be sure to check out all of the extras along with the film itself.

Look for my review of the WOMAN ON THE RUN Blu-ray/DVD set later this month!

Thanks to Flicker Alley for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray/DVD set.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS may be purchased at the Flicker Alley website as well as through retailers such as Amazon.


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