Deprived of a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Katie, Lillian Roth becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood ... See full summary »
Deprived of a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Katie, Lillian Roth becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, David Tredman, he dies and Lillian takes her first drink of many down the road of becoming an alcoholic. She enters into a short-lived marriage to an immature aviation cadet, Wallie, followed by a divorce and then marriage to a sadistic brute and abuser Tony Bardeman. After a failed suicide attempt, Burt McGuire comes to her aid and helps her find the road back to happiness after sixteen years in a nightmare world, not counting the first twenty with her mother. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
In her second autobiography published in 1958, "Beyond My Worth," Lillian Roth noted that although her mother Katie spoke with a Boston accent, Jo Van Fleet portrayed Katie as sounding ethnically Eastern European Jewish. See more »
When Susan is giving her "I'm a drunk" speech in the bar (at around 1h 16 mins) the woman she has accosted suddenly turns into a man in a dark suit. See more »
[alcoholic Lillian is desperate for a drink - mother drops the glass bottle on the floor, shattering it]
OH! Look what ya did! And ya DID IT ON PURPOSE! You're still trying to make me do what you want, to be what you want! I can't be anything except what I am! Look, look what did you drop that bottle for? What are you trying to do, drive me crazy? Go on, GET THE BOTTLE! GET IT NOW!
All right! All right! All right, it's my fault, huh? I made you become an actress, you didn't want to, all right. ...
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Hayward alone makes this movie great, but the story is well told, too...
I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
Well, never mind the famous Alcoholics Anonymous ending, Susan Hayward is just fabulous through and through. This is a drama based on real life singer Lillian Roth, and Hayward (who does her own singing) pulls off both the successful early years and the decline into drinking. It's lively and vivid and tragic.
Richard Conte is second billing, and a big name at this point in his career, but he's got a small, if important, role, perfectly suited to him. I just happened to see Conte and Hayward yesterday in a movie together, "House of Strangers" (from six years earlier). The relationship of their characters is more compact and complicated here, but in both cases Conte plays a cool type, smart and in control. But Conte here has two sides, is wonderfully manipulative, and ends up having his own demons that come from drinking too much.
Hayward often plays strong characters, and emotional ones, and yet her approach is grounded with an inner calm. I'm not sure why she wasn't a legendary star the way Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman and Joan Crawford were, because she acts her heart out and has good, rich roles. It's no surprise she got an Oscar nomination for this performance, just as she did for an earlier amazing performance as an alcoholic, the terrific 1949 "My Foolish Heart" across from Dana Andrews, who is a more compelling actor overall than Conte. Hayward did finally win that big Best Actress award for her gutsy performance in "I Want to Live" (where director Robert Wise made everything look good as well as come alive).
Jo Van Vleet, who play's Lillian Roth's mother, is scary perfect as a controlling mother with seemingly good intentions. There's no shortage of movies about mothers who mess up their daughters by trying too hard ("Mommy Dearest" is the most famous, but it gets even more sordid in "Where Love Has Gone" with Hayward playing the mother).
There is a terrible colorized version of "I'll Cry Tomorrow" out there which is best to avoid--it's a simple color palette applied across the board, and everyone comes off uniform and pasty. It matters less what color her hair is when it's simply colorless. That colorized version is also cropped (pan and scan) to fit the 4:3 format of television, and the original is shot with some helpful moderately wide widescreen expansiveness, so the edges of faces don't get chopped. Arthur Arling's cinematography is very good in the way that all movies were at this point, but it isn't remarkable on its own terms. The soundtrack, by the way, is interesting to many because it has Hayward singing rather rich versions of some standards of Roth's.
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