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For me, the best part about this film was the exceptional lighting
which made this a great movie to see on DVD. The great black-and-white
photography reminded of films like The Sweet Smell Of Success and To
Kill A Mockingbird. The camera-work in this movie does not take a
backseat to those great films, believe me.
Story-wise, it's a somewhat-familiar Joan Crawford movie with a bit more emphasis on the melodrama than the film noir, a la Mildred Pierce. That's a compliment because "Mildred" was a well-crafted story and so is this. It's an effective mixture of drama and noir. However, unlike "Mildred," this Crawford character ("Ethel" aka "Mrs. Forvbes") has a worldly edge to her with a chip on her big shoulders. It's tough to sympathize with her in this story, frankly.
Kent Smith plays her naive, wimpy dupe for much of the film but when David Brian enters the scene, the movie really picks up. Gangster Brian is nobody's patsy and he's fascinating, portraying the most intense character in the story.
This is another one of the fine classic movies that never got a VHS showing but finally got a break with a recent DVD release, which is all the better since the camera-work is deserving of the nice look this transfer gives it. Once more, another impressive movie from 1950, one of the better years Hollywood ever had.
This is one of those easy-to-miss sleepers. It makes the rounds on cable
channels, like AMC, but has never received much attention. Many of Joan
Crawford's post-"Mildred Pierce" efforts are unworthy vehicles. Some, like
"Female on the Beach" are entertaining trash. But there are two late Film
Noir classics in her canon that should not be missed: one is "Sudden Fear"
(1952) and the other "The Damned Don't Cry".
A hybrid of the "woman's picture" and straightforward Film Noir, "The Damned Don't Cry" has many of the best components of both genres. There is a strong, but flawed heroine--her descent into corruption that is pure Noir--and (as the title implies) no possibility of redemption. The entire tale is told in flashback, that most compelling of Noir devices. It is tautly directed and extremely well acted by all. Crawford was perhaps a bit too old for the role in 1950, but her unique combination of austerity and vulnerability is quite effective. Other standouts in the cast include David Brian, the underrated Steve Cochran and Jacqueline Dewit (the monstrous wife in The Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last") as Crawford's fellow-model companion early in the film. The photographic look of the film should appeal to any Noir aficionado: dark and threatening--the opening sequence is a perfect case in point.
A bit of trivia: the title comes from Eugene O'Neill. In "Mourning Becomes Electra", a brother tells his sister:"Don't cry....the damned don't cry."
The hard-working Joan Crawford scores again in this 1950 film. Here she
plays a working-class mom who witnesses her son get killed while she's
fighting with her oafish husband (Richard Egan). She bails the marriage
and ends up as a two-bit model in a small dress manufacturing company.
She models and takes clients out for a good time.
The she meets a timid bookkeeper (Kent Smith)and together they worm their way into a mob-like syndicate run by brutal David Brian. As they work their way up the ladder, Joan's small-town girl is transformed into a faux oil heiress/socialite with the help of a real-lie but broke socialite (Selena Royle). But when Joan is asked to head west (to Las Vegas) to get the goods on a scheming subordinate (Steve Cochran), all hell breaks loose.
Crawford is superb here. At age 45 or so she looks great and gets to display a range of emotions as the tough-and-determined Ethel/Lorna. Egan, Royle, Brian, and Cochran are all excellent. This one ranks among Crawford's best Warners films and not to be missed.
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.
I have to say that this is one of my very favorite films. A truly
Briefly, Joan Crawford plays a good woman who's world is turned upside down
by a tragic event. She decides to climb her way out of poverty by using
everyone she comes in contact with and falling in with a lot of shady
characters. She makes her way to a life of glamour and wealth, only to see
it all fall apart when her bad karma comes back to haunt
For all the Joan Crawford jokes - this is actually quite a good movie. The
dialogue is crackling and all the actors are very good. Joan does not go
over the top and gives a convincing portrayal of a woman who has lost her
moral compass - but then regains it in the end. There are of course some
melodramatic moments, but not too many.
The production values are top notch - lots of location shooting - mainly in
Palm Springs, to really get you into the setting of the film.
I would classify this film as a film noir - it starts out as who-done-it and features noir stalwart Steve Cochran. If you are looking for an entertaining flick - you can't go wrong with this one!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Damned Don't Cry" (1950) is really six different Joan Crawford
movies all rolled into one, with a moral ambiguity that must have left
the censors blushing. It stars Crawford as Lorna Hansen Forbes, a
socialite who has been leading a conflicted double life that is about
to catch up to her. When the body of bad boy, Nick Prenta (Steve
Cochran) turns up, Lorna's romantic connection is immediately
investigated by the police. However, not before Lorna vanishes into
thin air. This disappearance does indeed present a grave problem for
the investigation, because it seems that Lorna Hansen Forbes never
existed before she met Nick Prenta.
The police's confusion, of course, touches off a long flashback in which Lorna (previously known as Ethel Whitehead) is shown making the best of her impoverished marriage to Jim (Morris Ankrum) an unhappy set of circumstances fraught with anti-climactic sterility. However, the marriage, like Ethel herself, is doomed to tragedy. With nothing more than self determination, Ethel/Lorna embarks upon a lucrative career as a back-stabbing, social climbing vixen. She uses men like disposable Kleenex to get where she wants to go. Eventually her bedroom prowess throws her into the arms of Nick, positioning Lorna as the lady behind a thug running one of the most notorious nationwide crime syndicates.
Director Vincent Sherman had his own notorious romantic goings on with Crawford while shooting this film and that hot blooded backstage tryst shows up on the screen. Both the actress and her performance have been oxygenated and primed to explode, with dilated twists and turns oozing from every facet of Gertrude Walker's lurid screenplay. But for all its torrid sexiness and slippery sinful attitudes toward a woman's 'place' in a world of ravenous male desire, "The Damned Don't Cry" comes across as something of a convoluted cropper.
It's initial film noir base is subverted in melodrama that dissolves into moments of subtle comedy, before bouncing into the sphere of over the top camp and kitsch. Though Crawford keeps all of these elements at bay, while central to her performance, she's really been thrown into the deep end of the pool here so to speak, artistically compromised in a very inarticulate bit of business that has her doing everything but card tricks and standing on her head in a bikini though there is little doubt she would have done even this if the screenplay had commanded it.
Another near perfect transfer from Warner Brothers greets on this DVD. Gray scale is finely wrought with detail, solid blacks, clean whites and a minimal amount of film grain. There's no hint of edge enhancement for a very smooth picture that will surely please. The audio is mono as expected but very nicely cleaned up. Extras include a "Reel and Real" featurette analysis of the Crawford style of acting, as well as an audio commentary by director, Sherman who really is more into raking smut about his star/lover than recollecting the film in a clinical and analytical way. Not that his commentary isn't interesting. But it does tend to run more toward tabloid headlining than serious audio track.
Joan Crawford portrays a young woman on the edge of poverty who decides to change her life for the better. Unfortunately, she thinks that money is the answer to every problem. A smart drama, though formula most of the time. An excellent cast includes David Brian, Steve Cochran and Kent Smith. This is a film worth seeing.
5 years after "Mildred Pierce" and Joan Crawford is at it again. Again,
she is poor and is willing to climb to the top no matter what. In this
film, she becomes involved with organized crime and becomes a real pro
in being used to infiltrate other wayward mobsters.
From poverty to that Mildred Pierce mink, Crawford gave a truly memorable performance. She will stop at nothing to get to the top.
Along the way, she seduces timid accountant, played masterfully by Kent Smith, to join the mob only two realize that the two of them are trapped.
Another favorite co-star of Crawford, David Brian appears as the head mobster who is against violence but must come to grips with it when renegade hood, the always terrific Steve Cochran, seduces Crawford and then goes after her when he discovers that she is a Brian stooge.
This is a gripping film-noir at its best.
When the dumped body of notorious racketeer Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran)
is found in the desert near the resort Desert Springs, the police
officers investigate his belongings in his house. They find a movie and
when they watch it, they see the socialite Lorna Hanson Forbes (Joan
Crawford) with Nick in the swimming pool. They go to her house and find
that she is missing and after a further investigation, they discover
that she has never existed and the discovery of her association with
the organized crime baffles the authorities.
Meanwhile Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford) returns to the poor house of her estranged parents and recalls when she was married with the rude worker Roy Whitehead (Richard Egan). When their six year-old son Tommy is hit by a truck and dies, Ethel leaves Roy and travels to New York. The ambitious Ethel finds a job and sooner she befriends the gangster Grady (Hugh Sanders). When she meets the accountant Martin Blankford (Kent Smith), Ethel convinces him to work for Grady. Sooner the powerful mobster George Castleman (David Brian) invites Martin to work for the mafia and Ethel becomes his lover, changing her name to Lorna Hanson Forbes and joining the dangerous world of murders and betrayals of the organized crime.
"The Damned Don't Cry" is a film-noir with a tale of ambition, murder and betrayal. Joan Crawford performs the role of an ambitious woman from the working class that finds social ascension in the men's world using her glamor and different lovers.
The story is based on the mysterious Virginia Hill, a woman without past that belonged to the upper-class and her lover Bugsy Segall, one of the most famous gangsters of the 40's. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Os Desgraçados Não Choram!" ("The Bastards Don't Cry!")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Part of this could POSSIBLY be considered plot-spoiling.) This is one
of Joan Crawford's lost movies, or at least it was until it got
released on DVD. I had never seen any part of it until the DVD release,
but I had heard from various sources that it was in fact terrible.
Pardon me, but I beg to differ. This is a stunning movie that manages
to keep you entertained from start to finish, and isn't that what
movies are for?
Joan Crawford plays Ethel Whitehead and her other persona, Lorna Hansen Forbes. The change is to better aid the gang she's gotten involved with, and I imagine she enjoys her taste of the good life. (Why the heck did she cut her hair, though? She looked much better to start with!) Unfortunately, the taste goes sour pretty darn quick, leave Ethel/Lorna in a spot. It also leads to the best scene in the movie, where she gets the crap slapped out of her. That is what makes this movie stand out for me--for once Joan isn't dishing it out, she's taking it. Granted, it's aesthetically pleasing violence that leaves her looking just as stylish as before, but still. I knew Joan Crawford was a marvelous slapper, but she's an even better slappee.
For me, there are several moments that make this movie great. The first is the scene that illustrates Ethel's acceptance of her "escort" job. (However, I can see how this scene would look ridiculous to a lot of people. Joan is a smidge too old to be doing what she's doing, but once you get past that it's great.) Ethel gives her partner her cut, which isn't nearly enough, and receives a tirade in return. She listens but for a moment, then turns around a walks off. When the partner continues, Ethel says "Ah, shut up." One of the best line deliveries Joan ever did, in my opinion. I think this part of the movie is a throwback to Joan's shopgirl movies. I can see an older Sadie McKee acting the same way. Even better, the scene reveals quite well just how ignorant Ethel is, but also how quickly she learns. When Martin explains to her that he's a CPA, she obviously has no idea what he's talking about. Once he straightens her out, she immediately uses it against someone. So, while she started out a step down, she used it to go an extra step up. It's wonderful stuff to watch.
Another well-done scene is the second, the scene in which we are introduced to Ethel Whitehead. It's very brief, with Ethel debating over whether or not to buy her son a bike, but very effective. Joan's acting is incredible here as well, and for some reason she looks much younger as a tired housewife than she does as a wealthy socialite.
I will gripe about something though. (Can't have a review where I don't complain, you know.) I disliked the character of George Castleman intensely. (Question to other film watchers--George lives in the Governors Mansion, and we're told that the Governor has ordered the meeting, but is George the governor? I don't think so, but it sure is implied. Somebody help me out with this.) George sucks, actually. Does he love Ethel? He says so, but why put her in such horrid situations? Why force her onto Nick Prenta when he has to know what will happen? My idea of love isn't shoving someone into the great gaping maw of death, which is what he seems to be doing. That's a minor gripe, though, and George is intended to be an a-hole, but still.
Another gripe, this one about the DVD. I haven't sat through Vincent Sherman's commentary, and I don't plan to. For Pete's sake, the man made tons of movies, he's two hundred years old, and all he can talk about is sleeping with Joan Crawford. If that's his only claim to fame he's a little bit sad. I have never seen the mention of his name with her's attached. I have never seen him speaking without mentioning their affair. MOVE ON, MAN!!! Everybody else slept with Joan Crawford too. He needs to rearrange his priorities. But, casual moviegoer, don't let that disturb your movie experience. A great movie--definitely one to be watched.
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