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« on: October 28, 2012, 04:22:59 PM »

TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY (1951) from  Noir of the Week by The Professor

"You worked a whole day just to dance a minute at Dreamland?"

"It was worth it."

Woody Allen's most sentimental gesture comes at the end of The Purple Rose of Cairo, when Mia Farrow, kicked around by men and by life, finds joy in the fleeting images of Fred and Ginger dancing across the screen. In that moment, so wonderfully free of dialogue, Allen speaks directly to the audience more poignantly than in all the times he ever tossed witticisms through the fourth wall. For me Tomorrow is Another Day, a film noir light on crime and laden with emotion, recalls that moment at the end of Allen's film. There has been little written about this astonishing movie, and what there is criticizes the ending as too upbeat and "studio" to be taken seriously. I disagree. Like Mia's Cecilia I find in movies entertainment and escapism; and like her I live vicariously through the characters, imagining myself in similar situations. That's my personal attraction to film noir - watching flawed people in trouble try to get out from under, and hoping they'll make it. There's something so desperately American in that notion that it stands to reason the best film noirs (and Westerns) were made in that brief period after the war when America quite possibly stood its tallest. If movies can teach us about redemption there's no better model than the morality plays of film noir.

Tomorrow is Another Day is an intelligent, very well acted film that explores paths to redemption - whether or not change is possible, if people are damned by their pasts, if grace even exists. It's a movie about two troubled souls who somehow save one another. The first is Bill Lewis (Steve Cochran), who at thirteen shot his father and went to prison. Bill is a unique noir hero - he shot an abusive drunk in order to protect his mother, leaving his soul free of stain but suffering from a severe case of arrested development. Cochran is a surprise - what he lacks in physical expressiveness he makes up for through a deep understanding of character. There's a moment in the opening scene, when Bill meets with the warden prior to his release, where this comes through loud and clear. Bill is nervous, fidgety - swimming in a prison-issue suit. Though the warden is supportive, Bill's got eighteen year's worth of chips on his shoulder. When scolded to make good choices lest he end up back behind bars, Bill responds, "Nobody'll ever put me in a stinkin' cage again." This is where Cochran shines - although trying to sound tough Bill can't make eye contact with the older man - and pauses before summoning the guts to add the word "stinkin'." Cochran understands that even though Bill is now a "free," he remains a kid in a man's body, mad at the world for punishing a guiltless crime, equally terrified of returning to prison and of being set free. Bill's standoffishness springs from his inability to grasp that the older man, an authority / father figure, may actually care for him. Cochran nails the part - Bill reenters society with a bitter heart and hardly more maturity than when he left it.

The film convincingly depicts the first moments of freedom for such a man-child. Bill's age is incalculably significant - in spending his formative years behind bars he missed out on the life experiences that turn boys into men, including the one in particular that defined his generation. No only has Bill not kissed a girl; he's never even spoken to one. He missed the vital school-age interactions that we take for granted, instead spending those years with hardened criminals. He's never driven a car, voted, or taken a drink. He has no friends, and with a prison record instead of a war record, he has little in common with men his age. We see Bill's first walk on the streets of his hometown through the eyes of a newshound who shadows him. He's drawn first to automobiles - he can't help but lean into a convertible and test the buttons and knobs. Then he notices a woman and does a quick one-eighty, falling into lockstep behind her. Again Cochran's portrayal rings true. When she pauses to meet a friend Bill thrusts into her personal space, studying her as if she were a sculpture. She nervously flees and Bill skulks into a hamburger joint, where he does what any kid would do: he orders not one, but three pieces of pie, as well as his very first beer. It's here that the reporter introduces himself. Although he doesn't reveal his intentions, he admits making Bill as a jailbird and draws him into conversation. The following day Bill is furious to see his mug splashed across the front page, and he departs for the anonymity of New York City.

In Manhattan we encounter the film's other main character, peroxide blonde dime-a-dance girl Cay Higgins (Ruth Roman). Although Cay's job as a taxi dancer at Dreamland is meant to suggest that she's really a prostitute, I've long been fascinated by this precursor to the burlesque club and choose to interpret the scenario at face value. The taxi dance craze swept America between the wars and dance halls sprang up from coast to coast. Patrons bought a ticket for a dime, which entitled them to one dance with the hostess of their choice. The system was mutually beneficial: in keeping a nickel on each ticket, a girl could do well - provided she was pretty and light on her feet. For the customers the dance halls afforded the chance for social outcasts to buy time with a girl of their choice. As with all things that bring the sexes together it fell prey to vice, and by the early fifties the dance halls were fading. Nevertheless, a few remained in New York, and Tomorrow is Another Day portrays them accurately. Someone like Bill would naturally gravitate to a dance hall, which serviced his need to interact with women he wouldn't have access to if left to his own social skills.

continued ---

« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 07:48:34 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 04:23:48 PM »

Cay came to New York to pursue a ballet career. "I started out on my toes and ended up on my heels" (or back, if you prefer). Now she's a taxi dancer (pro) with a cop boyfriend (pimp) when Bill Lewis enters her world. Cay sees him as a yokel and an easy mark, though she finds herself unexpectedly charmed by his boyish naivetÄ. She accepts his gifts and even agrees to a sightseeing date, afterwards inviting him to her room. There they find detective George Conover, Cay's beefy beau. In the ensuing fight Conover knocks Bill out before turning on Cay, who shoots him in self-defense. Injured, Conover shambles out in search of a clandestine physician. When Bill awakens, unaware that Conover was shot, he finds Cay leaving for her brother's place in Jersey, where she intends to hole up. He learns of the shooting later via the evening newspaper, and heads south for a confrontation with Cay. It's in New Jersey that the story takes a crucial turn. Bill confronts Cay with his knowledge of the shooting and asks, "How did it happen?" Cay realizes that Bill has no memory of the shooting she decides to convince him that he pulled the trigger. She also drops the bombshell that Conover has died. This is the moment in the film where Cay becomes something like a femme fatale. Her character can best be summed up as morally ambiguous. Always the schemer, she figures that an innocent like Bill will fare better with the cops than her, and that he'll beat the rap by claiming self-defense. Bill refuses this idea and shows Cay the recent clipping from his hometown paper, finally exposing his prison record. Realizing that the cops are unlikely to believe either of them, Bill and Cay decide to run. They borrow a car (Cay driving, Bill doesn't know how.) and head for the state line.

The turning point in the film comes at a rural motor lodge. Bill and Cay check in pretending to be married, though the jaded Cay recognizes that the proprietors couldn't care less. This is the moment, far from Manhattan, when they have the chance to separate - yet choose not to. Bill departs for a time but returns with a cheap wedding ring. This romantic gesture causes Cay's tough fašade to crumble, and in a heartbeat their antagonistic relationship becomes tender. Bill then discovers that during his time away the blonde has become a brunette. Cay's physical transformation is the climax of the middle of the film, and is symbolic of the deeper change in her character. The tramp from Dreamland is gone, replaced by a wholesome and demure portrait of fifties womanhood. Though this transition seems fatally abrupt on paper, Roman pulls it off - she makes us believe the old Cay was an illusion, easily discarded when Bill discovers the woman within.

Through marriage Bill experiences sex and intimacy, and he begins to open up. However Cay, fearing that she'll lose him, remains unable to come clean about Conover's shooting. The newlyweds' Joad-ian odyssey ends at a California farm camp, where he finds work in the lettuce fields and she keeps house amidst a community of shanties. They ingratiate themselves with the other workers and begin to live a relatively normal life. It all comes crashing down when Bill's mug shot and a substantial reward offer appear in a Confidential-style crime rag, and a neighbor in desperate need of cash reluctantly informs on the couple. Sensing their impending doom, Cay summons the courage to tell Bill that it was she who really shot Conover, but he doesn't believe her. Whereas earlier Cay set Bill up as a fall guy because she thought he'd get off easy, he now thinks she's trying to take the blame for the same reason Đ that her recently discovered pregnancy will rate a soft sentence. When the police come knocking Bill, remembering his vow to the warden, prepares an ambush. In one of the most ironic moments in all of film noir Cay grabs Conover's revolver and shoots Bill with it. The symbolism here is critical Đ in shooting Conover Cay was selfishly trying to protect herself, but now she shoots Bill in order to save him. As the police take him away, Cay pleads, "I couldn't let you get into more trouble on account of me."

Tomorrow is Another Day is a film of mirrored halves, of repeated acts imbued with new meaning Đ it ends as it began, with an authority figure summoning Bill to his office through the intercom. In that first scene Bill moves from one prison to another Đ without walls, yes, but a prison just the same. The final time, with Cay, he is truly set free. The scene is the Manhattan DA's, with Bill and Cay clumsily trying to take the blame for each other. In attempting to sacrifice herself for the man who loves her, Cay is able to overcome the sins of her past, while Bill is able to consummate adulthood by assuming responsibility for the life of another. Here is revealed possibly the most ironic twist in the entire story, but I'll leave it up in the air. As I wrote earlier, the film ends well. Redemption indeed.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 07:48:55 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 04:53:35 PM »

A nice entertaining enough noir - Director: Felix E. Feist with Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran
Jailbird Cochran

meets Foozie Taxi Dacer Roman
 
she shoots pimp/boyfriend/policeman blames it on an unconsious Cochran and they both hightail it West

Noir Lite  Tongue but entertaining enough 7/10

« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 08:44:16 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 05:02:51 PM »

previous comment -  dave jenkins    

December 07, 2009, 08:57:57 PM ╗         
Just saw another couple-on-the-run flick, Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951). The beginning is very similar, with Ruth Roman bumping off her meal ticket and getting Steve Cochran, who blacked out when it was going down, to believe he's responsible. But guess what? This one is actually worse than Where Danger Lives. RR is neither psychotic nor evil, and feels guilty about the deception. So when the cops close in she 'fesses up. But Steve, who is rather dim but nonetheless noble, has to insist on taking the rap (and since he has a record, he looks pretty good for it). Into this orgy of self-sacrifice comes Mo Ankrum, one of the regular justices on Perry Mason, who finds that RR acted in self defense, so all the charges are dropped! Steve and Ruth walk happily into the sunset. Pathetic.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 07:49:37 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 06:51:17 AM »

Quote
previous comment -  dave jenkins    

December 07, 2009, 08:57:57 PM ╗         
Just saw another couple-on-the-run flick, Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951). The beginning is very similar, with Ruth Roman bumping off her meal ticket and getting Steve Cochran, who blacked out when it was going down, to believe he's responsible. But guess what? This one is actually worse than Where Danger Lives. RR is neither psychotic nor evil, and feels guilty about the deception. So when the cops close in she 'fesses up. But Steve, who is rather dim but nonetheless noble, has to insist on taking the rap (and since he has a record, he looks pretty good for it). Into this orgy of self-sacrifice comes Mo Ankrum, one of the regular justices on Perry Mason, who finds that RR acted in self defense, so all the charges are dropped! Steve and Ruth walk happily into the sunset. Pathetic.

I just saw this movie, and I am going to give my own comments on it in the next post, but first I just wanted to respond to dj's comments: I'm not saying this is the greatest noir ever, and the ending can indeed make you scratch your head. But as a general matter, I totally disagree with you when you trash a noir script just because the character doesn't act like you'd expect a noir character to act.

Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you, but that's what it sounds like to me, and you did this with Ace in the Hole too which you trashed because you felt it was wrong for a noir character to regret his actions, he should have stayed tough till the end, etc.

Sorry, but I can't disagree more with that philosophy. No characters should be held to any pre-arranged mold. Besides, as you know of course, there really was no such thing as "film noir" till years after those films were nio longer being made; the French in the 60's gave that term to dark crime dramas of (roughly) the previous 2 decades. It's not like a movie announces, "we are going to be a noir," and therefore you can hold it against it when the characters don't fit the retroactive labeling of noir characters.

Nobody should be required to be held to any mold. While you can have any opinion you want on a particular piece of script or a character, the criticism should be on your belief that there's something inherently wrong with it, not that well, a noir character shouldn't be like that.

Besides, it just so happens to be that when it comes to Tomorrow is Another Day, there is a reasonable enough but of noir in the movie, even though they are rather soft. one of the common storylines/characteristicsof a noir script/character is, a normal dude  who finds himself entangled in a situation not of his own doing, like the guy who finds a false murder rap hanging on him but he has to run away rather than calling the cops. And Ruth Roman's character is certainly not your typical femme fatale, although she does it in reverse order: most femmes fatale are all nice and sweet, and turn out to be conniving bitches. She, on the contrary, starts out bitchy and tough, and turns out to really be a sweet brunette who went through shit that made her tough but is really just as nice and vulnerable as he is.

So, it's not the most conventional noir; and you can certainly love it or hate it or anything in between; but IMO, criticism should not be based on expectations that characters/plot conform to what you expect of the (retroactively labeled) film noir

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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 07:05:04 AM »

if you haven't seen this movie and don't want it to be spoiled, fuck off this thread until you've seen it.


this movie gets a 7.5/10

I almost shat myself when I saw Ruth Roman as the bitchy dance hall girl with the awful platinum  blonde wig. I know Ruth Roman is the sweetheart brunette, the sort of girl you'd feel proud bringing home to your mom, the girl you'd want the mother of your children to be, etc. etc. etc. Something was just NOT RIGHT.

So, damned if she doesn't revert to that role halfway through  Smiley


The ending is really pretty terrible: as soon as the couple that is on the run is caught, they immediately find out that they have been cleared, and walk off into the sun.  Roll Eyes Robert osborne and Eddie Muller mentioned something about it, (I forgot who said what exactly), how like with many noirs, some fans say, just cut out the last 2 minutes and that's the movie, the rest is the phony happy ending, etc.

So it turns out that they never had to run away at all, if they had gone to the cops as soon as the guy was killed, they would have been okay.

However, just for the hell of it, I'll take a stab at playing devil's advocate and defending this ending: the whole point here is the irony of it all: the cops never suspected them of the murder. so if they had just gone to the cops and been cleared immediately,  they'd never have had to go on the run and never have fallen in love, cuz they did not get along initially, they didn't fall i love until after they had started running away (unlike eg. Bonnie and Clyde, Gun Crazy, and Badlands),  and maybe that's the point, that if they hadn't gone through all the unnecessary shit of running away from a crime that they weren't even being accused of, then they never would have fallen in love. So the whole point is how you realize at the end the irony of it all.  Certainly not typical noir, that's for sure

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