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James Cagney pulled off one of his greatest gangster roles fairly late
in his career in 1949's White Heat. You could see he was starting to
get a little pudgy in the midsection and gray around the temples for
that kind of role, but he still pulled it off.....big-time. What a lot
of people don't remember is that he did it one more time - with this
film, the following year.
Yup, "Cody Jarrett" was in business for one more tough-guy gangster character. Here, he plays "Ralph Cotter," and he is one nasty dude. It's great to watch Jimmy doing his cocky-thug routine. I wish he could have gone on forever.
The supporting cast, led by Ward Bond, was very good in this film and worth noting. It isn't just all Cagney. Barbara Peyton is realistic as the tough blonde and Helena Carter as the spoiled rich man's daughter. Both are decent at heart and vie for Cagney's affections.
Included in here are crooked cops, a crooked lawyer and other assorted characters. It's a rough movie. Nobody is trustworthy in this story, which is interesting all the way. It should be better known.
I've seen just about everything there is to see in the world of Cinema.
I've seen Rouben Mamoulian, 68years ago, create the definitive monster
movie, I've seen Pekinpah's Wild Bunch go out in slo mo glory, I've
seen Chow Yun Fat bleed his way through two hours, I've seen Cagney go
out in a white heat at the top of the world, I've seen Belafonte lay
Odds Against Tomorrow. I had honestly thought I had run out of
surprises, I had seen everything worth seeing.
I was wrong.
I picked up, pretty much because of reviews I read here, this movie KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE. A little nothing, throwaway flick, that was done on the heels of Cagney's wildly popular WHITE HEAT, and was pretty much ignored upon release. It's said Cagney disliked the idea of doing another gangster picture. Thank goodness he decided to do it anyway, because this movie... out and out floored me!
It's hard to call a movie from 50years ago brutal, and justify it. However that's just what this movie is, deep in the bone, teeth rattling, brutal. In a world of Scorcese and Coppola Gangster riffs, Hong Kong Cinema, Slasher movies, and the nightly news it's hard to account for this movies impact.
There's nothing tangible in this movie, in a world of shock cinema, that one could call shocking. But yet... this movie has power, and energy, and yes a sense of brutality that blows away any dozen modern movies full of blood, or body parts.
This movies appeal is difficult to explain, but I guess if you had to sum it up in three words, it would be Cagney...CAGney...CAGNEY!!!
Today's movies for all their CGI brilliance lack the type of center, and ,if you like, romanticism that actors like Cagney and Bogart and Raft, and directors like Raoul Walsh, and in this case Gordon Douglass, brought to the table. Particularly in the hard-boiled flicks, a menace that was somehow felt, rather than seen, and therefore more powerful.
I could go on, but all you need to know is that this movie in a world that has forgotten it, outgrown it, outbled it, is the finest of its breed. Better than those that came before, superior to those that came after. It is the quintessential Gangster Pic. Highest Recommendation!
p.s. And I have to mention, I thought the courtroom scenes were well done and necessary, and everyone turned in great performances, especially the beautiful Holiday Carleton as Barbara Payton, who becomes Cagney's reluctant partner in crime. Cagney turning in his most ferocious and seductive performance, is matched by Holiday. Her tension, and wild lilting ferocity and fear, burning through the movie like a fuse, until it explodes! Mesmerizing!! A must see movie!
Had a chance to watch KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE and although I don't agree with the claims of some that if you must see one "crime" film, this is it, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and that James Cagney was again terrific and on top of his game for this one. I also didn't get the feeling that this film was, in reality, WHITE HEAT 2, as some have said but it was a nifty follow up to that classic JC film. Cagney was indeed brutal and off his rocker, but it was more controlled and offset with his characters smarts and sense of humor. In WHITE HEAT, JC was just downright nuts, out of control and a lot more frightening IMHO. In KTG, Cags plays Ralph Cotter who after a daring and violent daylight prison break, uses his smarts to prove that he is no small timer and formulates a grand scheme to garner lots of cash and protection which involves crooked lawyers and crooked policemen. Cotter, in the end, is his own downfall as he goes too far and his romance with a high society girl with a very wealthy and powerful father, leads to his downfall because one thing you don't do is double-cross your moll! Excellent performance by all, including Barbara Payton and a near film stealing performance by Luther Adler as JC's eccentric and very crooked lawyer. Direction is robust and swiftly paced by Gordon Douglas and in the end, makes this film fun, breezy, yet violent, but also a very good watch.
James Cagney shines, and at times even seems to glow in the dark in this rugged follow-up to White Heat, directed with great verve by Gordon Douglas. It's a somewhat neglected film, maybe because it's basically a gangster picture rather than a noir, and rather late in the day for such things. The supporting cast features Barbara Payton; Luther Adler, in a Howard Da Silva role, as an eccentric lawyer, and who almost steals the show from Cagney; Rhys Williams, effortlessly playing an American; William Frawley, for nostalgia; and Ward Bond, neanderthal as ever, as a dogged, corrupt plainclothesman. Good, fast-paced and at times surprisingly violent, this movie will not put you to sleep.
I can't believe that this film is not well known. Get rid of the terrible courtroom framing device, and you have a gangster masterpiece. Coming on the heels of Cagney's better known White Heat, this film takes violence and corruption to a new level. This film starts off with a brutal jail break and never slows down. The cold blooded violence portrayed is quite jaw dropping. Cagney was born to play this role. He is clearly relishing his cold blooded character. The freshness of this film is surprising. You are totally caught off guard. In this sense, it reminds me most of Kiss Me Deadly. For anyone with a passing interest in Cagney, or gangster films, or film-noir, or film violence, watch this film!!!!!!!
"Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" is about a jail convict (James Cagney) who
escapes from prison and goes on the run, relentlessly pursued. He
eventually winds up in a small town where he gets a girl and starts a
normal life, but begins to corrupt everyone around him.
The movie is not very well known and I'm not sure quite why. Although this movie might not be definitive film noir it surely carries certain elements of the genre, and of course it's got James Cagney in it, one of the ultimate veterans of the genre! Cagney delivers a really solid performance and comes across as both likable and despicable. We feel for him and those around him as his bad influence spreads and the tragic tale takes a turn for the worst.
Although it's a very clear moral tale and ends up exactly where we can expect, "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" is nevertheless a very good, underrated film whose virtually nonexistent reputation is as depressing as the film itself.
The criminal Ralph Cotter (James Cagney) and his partner Carleton
(Neville Brand) flee from the prison, but Carleton is wounded and Ralph
executes him with a bullet on the head. Carleton's sister Holiday
(Barbara Payton) helps Ralph to escape and kills a guard. The clever
Ralph manipulates Holiday and she becomes his lover. Then he blackmails
and bribes the dirty Inspector Charles Weber (Ward Bond) and Lieutenant
John Reece (Barton MacLane) and associates to the corrupt lawyer Keith
'Cherokee' Mandon (Luther Adler). Ralph gets a new identity and he gets
a license to carry gun. When Ralph meets the wealthy Margaret Dobson
(Helena Carter), Mandon advises him that she is a dangerous woman,
since her father is the powerful Ezra Dobson (Herbert Heyes). But the
ambitious Ralph does not pay attention to Mandon's advice and leaves
Holiday with tragic consequences.
"Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" is a combination of film-noir and gangster movie perfect to James Cagney in his usual role. The violent story is developed in flashback and Ralph Cotter is a ruthless and ambitious criminal that ends his career due to a female fatale, in an environment of crooked cops and lawyer. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Amanhã que não Virá" ("The Tomorrow that Will not Come")
If they made this movie today, they would call it "White Heat 2: Cody Lives". Cagney is as ruthless as in White Heat, but here, his pathology is under control, (brain surgery after his Oil Tank "accident" in Part 1?) so he can blackmail cops and smoothly double-cross his erstwhile moll while skimming wherever else and whenever he can. In the first couple of minutes of the film, he shoots a fellow prison escapee "just because". His sense of loyalty to his supposed accomplices goes downhill from there.
Barbara Payton is a more resonant and convincing actress than Virginia Mayo, and it can be argued that her strength as an actress creates much of the tension here: We want to see her get wise to the Cagney character's dirty game, and also succeed in avenging her brother's death (the fellow escapee shot in the beginning of the film). And unlike the case of Virginia Mayo's unsympathetic moll in White Heat, we actually do root for her to gain a comeuppance against the Cagney character. But we're torn. Cagney has so much natural charisma, even when playing a snake, that we can never entirely want him to get his. There is a sense of justice and inevitability to the ending. But there remains the nagging hurt feeling at what Cagney-- with all that bristling energy and industry and charisma-- COULD have accomplished if he hadn't succumbed to the dark side. Ten stars. See it!
While this is not a great Cagney flick and it has a few silly plot
elements, it is a surprisingly good film. This film immediately
followed Cagney's best film (WHITE HEAT) and is a slight letdown
because of this.
Mostly I like the movie because the plot, for a Noir film, takes so many odd and difficult to predict turns--it certainly is NOT like most of the other gangster films you've seen. Cagney isn't quite the total nut case he was in WHITE HEAT, but plays a Narcissistic Antisocial criminal. He has zero regard for others and is naturally drawn to the criminal life. BUT, because of his intense narcissism (i.e., self love), he cannot imagine his complex schemes and double-dealing NOT succeeding. He certainly BELIEVES in himself! At first, this makes him a very successful hood (which feeds his ego) and so he takes another risk (feeding his ego) and another and another until he ultimately destroys himself due to his arrogance.
So, I like the plot and interesting character study. The negative I noticed in the film is that some of the supporting cast really didn't seem like very good actors (particularly his blonde girlfriend). Maybe that's because Cagney IS the entire show.
This flick is awesome. James Cagney and his brother made this with their own company and had all the right ingredients for a classic good guys and bad guys gig. I can never get enough of this movie as I am enamored with everything of the 20's, through the 50's films. I am also a certified car nut and wonder if anyone can identify the huge sports car driven by the young rich woman in the film? It looks like an import but with left-hand drive, I'm not quite sure. This film is a real work of an almost lost art. Films like it can be made today (such as L.A. Confidential) but not very often. Thank you to film preservation which unfortunately is too slow to save them all.
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