Too Late for Tears (1949)

 “So you’ve already started spending it.”

Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott) and her husband, Alan (Arthur Kennedy) are out one evening, when a bag of money literally lands in the back seat of their car. Alan wants to turn the money over to the police, but Jane sees it as the answer to all their problems. Jane persuades Alan to at least hide the money until they decide what to do with it. He gives in to her pleading, but then after she goes on a spending spree, he decides to hand the money over to the police. Jane is determined to keep it, and that means she’ll get rid of anyone who stands in her way.

too-late-for-tearsJane is an incredible character. She’s cold, calculating and manipulative. From the start, when the money falls into her lap, she takes charge of the situation by grabbing the steering wheel and engaging in a high-speed chase. As a film noir femme fatale, she’s on a level with those other two great wicked women, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity) and Cora Smith (Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice). Jane is bad, bad, bad.

Dan Duryea plays Danny Fuller, a hard-boiled, sleazy crook. He begins his relationship with Jane by pushing her around, but by the time she’s done with him, he’s in a perpetual drunken stupor, quivering, whining and obeying her orders. He feels guilty in spite of the fact that he tries to make light of their crimes by suggesting, “I say, let’s kill these people in style.” Danny might appear to be the brutal, muscle element of this criminal pair, but in reality, Jane dominates and controls their crimes. Both Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea are great favourites of mine. Scott really makes a great deal of this role. Too often, she gets stuck as the supporting actress, but here she’s in full force, and she shows exactly how well she can handle the starring role. She’s almost kittenish when she wants to be, but always that cold emotional detachment lurks underneath the surface–even when she’s turning on the charm. Too Late for Tears is one of my all-time film noir favourites. Dirceted by Byron Haskin.


Filed under Film Noir, Lizabeth Scott

4 responses to “Too Late for Tears (1949)

  1. Too Late for Tears is an underappreciated film noir that does not currently exist in its original 35mm format. The Film Noir Foundation has this particular gem high on our list of films that urgently requires restoration.

    Interestingly, Miss Scott reputedly doesn’t think much of this film. I think TLFT and PITFALL are by far her best films.

    Alan K. Rode

  2. Hey there. Love your review on Too Late for Tears. A forgotten gem of a film.

    Email me if you’d be interested in doing an expanded review of this for the Noir of the Week blog. I can’t believe we never covered that one. I’d love to have you contribute. Also, would you be interested in adding the NOTW to your blog roll?

  3. Noirhound

    Hope you can still see this comment. I read your review of this on Steve-O’s web site. You mentioned that this was one of two great noirs that Lizabeth was in. Would you include Pitfall as the other one?

  4. I wasn’t that crazy about Pitfall the first couple of times I watched it. It improves on repeat viewing, but it’s not in my top list, though. Not that I have an absolute, definitive list in my head–just some favs.

    I think I said that Too Late For Tears was one of the two leading roles in noir for Scott. She seems to either play supporting roles or else is wildly underused (Dark City) or miscast. But then she’s one of my-all time FAVS (along with Gloria Grahame). It’s almost as though the studios didn’t know quite how to use her as an actress.

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