The murder of gangster Nick Prenta touches off an investigation of mysterious socialite Lorna Hansen Forbes, who seems to have no past, and has now disappeared. In flashback, we see the woman's anonymous roots; her poor working-class marriage, which ends in tragedy and her determination to find "better things." Soon finding that sex appeal is her only salable commodity, she climbs from man to man toward the center of a nationwide crime syndicate...a very perilous position. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Ethel Whitehead first sees Martin Blankford working in the office of her firm, there is a photo of a building behind his desk. That building is the original Phalen Building which stood at the corner of Market Street and O'Farrell Streets in San Francisco. The photo taken in about 1890. It was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. A larger and more impressive Phalen Building was constructed on the same site, which is now a historic landmark. See more »
[when she wants to stop helping a gangster friend]
This isn't a party you can leave when you get bored. We could have left, you and I, a long time ago. We were only guests then. But we stayed too late.
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Loose reworking of the Bugsy Siegel-Virginia Hill affair
Joan Crawford revitalized a flagging career when she left MGM and signed with Warner Brothers in the '40s. "The Damned Don't Cry" is just one of the very entertaining films she made for Warners, which include "Mildred Pierce," for which she won an Oscar and "Flamingo Road." The formula usually follows the rags to riches line, something Crawford was very good at indeed.
Here, she's Ethel Whitehead, a wife and mother of a young boy who dies in an accident, at which point Ethel takes off seeking money, nice things, and the fun she's never had in life. She soon comes to the attention of a clothes manufacturer who has her model the clothes and encourage the buyers to spend their cash after hours. She rides the coattails of a bland CPA (Kent Smith) into the mob domain of George Castleman (David Brian), who gives her a life she only dreamed of - a society name, expensive digs, great trips, clothes and jewels - and no ring on third finger, left hand. Not that anyone has mentioned if she divorced her first husband (Richard Egan). Castleman, suspicious of Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) who runs his western territory sends Ethel
now "Lorna Hanson Forbes" out to investigate and inveigle her way
into Prenta's life to find out what he's planning. It's then that "Lorna" realizes she's just another thing that Castleman uses.
This is a slick, fast-moving noir that is basically all Joan all the time. Surrounded by a strong cast, she's the only real star, and she looks it in her beautiful clothes and jewels. She's at her glamorous best here in 1950, right before she hardened into almost a caricature of herself in the '50s and '60s. I can't agree that Crawford's age (46) gets in the way and that Ava Gardner would have been better. Ethel/Lorna is the type of role at which Joan excelled. It was believable, to me at least, that these men were all attracted to her - her character has guts, intelligence, beauty and sexuality. David Brian is her brutish boyfriend, and the scene where he surprises her out west is quite violent, even by today's standards. Steve Cochran is handsome, boyish, and thug-like as Prenta, and he comes on strong.
"The Damned Don't Cry" is directed with great spirit by Vincent Sherman and will keep the viewer involved throughout.
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