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 ...
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The New York City scenes that were filmed next to the Third Ave El all have an absence of trains due to the El being permanently shut down on May 12,1955, about a month before production of the film started. See more »
When Lillian goes for her audition as a child at the beginning of the film, it is c.1917, but the automobiles on the street are from the late 1930s or later. Also, the Hotel Edison across the street from the Fulton Theater wasn't built until 1931. See more »
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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