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Too Late for Tears (1949)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  13 August 1949 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,311 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 12 critic

Through a fluke circumstance a ruthless woman stumbles across a suitcase filled with $60,000, and she is determined to hold onto it even it if means murder.

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(screenplay), (serial)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Don DeFore ...
Dan Duryea ...
...
Kristine Miller ...
Barry Kelley ...
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Storyline

One night on a lonely highway, a speeding car tosses a satchel of money, meant for somebody else, into Jane and Alan Palmer's back seat. Alan wants to turn it over to the police, but Jane, with luxury within her reach, persuades him to hang onto it "for a while." Soon, the Palmers are traced by one Danny Fuller, a sleazy character who claims the money is his. To hang onto it, Jane will need all the qualities of an ultimate femme fatale...and does she ever have them! Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

That's just to remind you... you're in a tough racket now!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 August 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Killer Bait  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reissued in 1955 under the title "Killer Bait". See more »

Goofs

Jane tells Danny they're going to Coldwater Canyon, but moments later they turn into the Bel-Air Estates, which is miles to the west of Coldwater Canyon (which doesn't even intersect with Sunset Blvd., which Danny notes they've just turned off of). See more »

Quotes

Alan Palmer: Stop it, Jane! If we don't report this, it's a felony. It's the same as stealing. It's a blind alley with a big barred gate at the end!
See more »

Connections

Featured in To Face Her Past (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lizabeth Scott tries her luck as unregenerate femme fatale in hard-boiled noir
22 May 2003 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

Lizabeth Scott did her best remembered work in film noir (more than half of her only 21 screen credits fall within the noir cycle), and became one of its iconic faces. Rarely, however, was she called upon to play the fully-fledged femme fatale, and there's probably a reason for this: She couldn't bring off duplicity.

Her smile had no shadings into wry, or ironic, or smirky; it had but one setting – a fresh, guileless grin that lit up like a Christmas tree. F. Scott Fitzgerald (in his sad screenwriting days) observed of Joan Crawford that you couldn't give her a simple stage direction like `telling a lie' because then she'd give an impersonation of Benedict Arnold betraying West Point to the British. But Scott can't manage even that, which results in confusingly mixed signals when her characters are motivated by malice, like Coral Chandler in Dead Reckoning: Her smile keeps convincing us that she's on the up-and-up.

Her damn smile keeps switching on in Too Late For Tears, even though there's no doubt that she's one hard, cold case. She and husband Arthur Kennedy are bickering one night en route to a party in the Hollywood Hills when suddenly a suitcase crammed with cash lands in their roadster. He wants to turn it over to the police, but she persuades him to think it over, so they check the valise at Union Station. When she starts buying clothes and furs against the checked capital, it's clear she has no intention of surrendering the windfall; we learn that her background was `white-collar poor, middle-class poor,' and that she'd made a previous marriage solely for money.

Strange men start ringing her doorbell. First Dan Duryea shows up, a blackmailer for whom the payoff was intended. He slaps her around playfully (`What do they call you – besides stupid,' she taunts him. `Stupid will do – if you don't bruise easily,' he purrs back). Quickly Scott maneuvers Duryea into helping him murder Kennedy but still won't tell him where the money's stashed. Though wary, he falls for her, starts hitting the bottle, and grows careless. Meanwhile, Kennedy's sister (Kristine Miller) harbors suspicions about his mysterious disappearance. When the next caller (Don DeFore) shows up, claiming to be an old Air Corps buddy of Kennedy's, she makes an alliance with him to find out what's really going on. And the claim ticket for the money keeps changing hands....

The plot is none too simple, and in consequence director Byron Haskin spends a lot of time trying to keep it clear rather than addressing some questions about character and logic that inevitably arise. Why did the avaricious, manipulative Scott marry Kennedy in the first (or second) place? Why does the sister live so conveniently close? How did Duryea, and for that matter DeFore, find Scott so easily? But few thriller plots are so tightly constructed that they survive rigorous analysis. Too Late For Tears passes muster as hard-boiled, late-40s noir and as one of Scott's hardest, strongest performances, inappropriate smile and all.


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