From the trial of the survivors, we flash back to amoral crook Ralph Cotter's violent prison break, assisted by Holiday Carleton, sister of another prisoner...who doesn't make it. Soon Ralph manipulates the grieving Holiday into his arms, and two crooked cops follow her into his pocket. Ralph's total lack of scruple brings him great success in a series of robberies. But his easy conquest of gullible heiress Margaret Dobson proves more dangerous to him than any crime...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oh no, he stopped being smart when he took my money.
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is directed by Gordon Douglas and adapted to screenplay by Harry Brown from the novel by Horace McCoy. It stars James Cagney, Barbara Payton, Helena Carter, Ward Bond, Luther Adler and Steve Brodie. Music is by Carmen Dragon and photography by J. Peverell Marley.
Ralph Cotter (Cagney), career criminal, escapes from prison and crudely murders his partner during the escape. Hooking up with Holiday Carleton (Payton), the oblivious sister of the slain partner, Cotter quickly gets back into a life of crime and violence. Will his evil deed stay a secret? How long can he keep the corrupt coppers under wraps? And is his "other" romantic relationship with Margaret Dobson (Carter) doomed to failure?
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye seems to have gotten lost in the slipstream of White Heat which was released the previous year. An undoubted classic of the gangster/crime genre, and featuring one of Cagney's greatest acting performances, White Heat has unsurprisingly dwarfed many other below par genre entries. However, while it doesn't equal the searing ferocity of White Heat, both in tone and character performance by Cagney, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a seriously hard as nails movie. Energetic from the off, film is often brutal and cynical and awash with potently memorable scenes, with some deemed as being just too much, resulting in the film even being banned from theatres in Ohio!
Female or a cripple, it matters not to the menacing force of nature that is Ralph Cotter.
Gordon Douglas was a multi genre director, unfussy and able to keep things taut, he gets some super performances from the cast while never letting the pace sag. Cagney is a given, give him this sort of character and let him run with it and the rewards are plenty, though to an extent it's arguably a detriment to the film as a whole that it can't match Cagney's blood and thunder show. that said, Bond (big bad corrupt copper), Brodie (Cotter side-kick) and Adler (shifty lawyer) do shine through with imposing in character turns.
Of much interest in the narrative is the dual lady characters that are firmly in Cotter's life. Both are very different from each other, and this gives the film a double whammy of femme fatales in waiting. Payton takes the honours, in what is the best written part in the film, where her Holiday Carleton is a good girl drawn in to a murky life by a bad man. While on the other side of the fence is Carter as bored rich girl Margaret Dobson, she likes fast cars and dangerous men, and this allows the actress to deftly sidle in to impact with potency in the smaller role.
Photography isn't out of the ordinary, where the pic cries out for some film noir styled psychological menace, and the music is standard boom and bluster for a crime picture. But really this is about Cagney's super performance and the grim thematics contained within the piece, where much like Ralph Cotter himself, it doesn't ever pull its punches. The deal well and truly sealed by an ending that firmly pulls the movie into the film noir universe. 8/10
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