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Author Topic: The Damned Don't Cry (1950)  (Read 1094 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: April 14, 2013, 03:22:39 AM »


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042376/


The Damned Don't Cry (1950)

CAST:
Joan Crawford............... Ethel Whitehead/Lorna Hansen Forbes

David Brian ................. George Castleman/ Joe Caveny

Steve Cochran............... Nick Prenta

Kent Smith..................... Martin Blankford

Hugh Sanders ................. Grady

Selena Royle ................... Patricia Longworth

Jacqueline deWit .............. Sandra

Morris Ankrum ................. Jim Whitehead

Edith Evanson .................. Mrs. Castleman

Richard Egan ................... Roy Whitehead


Previous posts from the Film Noir Discussion Thread:
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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg147016#msg147016

cigar joe: The Damned Don't Cry (1950) Director Vincent Sherman, with Joan Crawford. Caught this one near the end she "plays a woman who becomes discontented with her marriage and boring life and sets out to make a better living for herself no matter the cost. She loses her young child in an accident. Her infatuation with dangerous men ultimately leads her into equally dangerous situations". This one was better than the last but I missed all of the melodrama at the beginning, lol. It ended as a sort of riff on the Bugsy Siegel story with Joan playing a mobsters girlfriend who is encouraged to "fraternize" with the Bugsy character to rat on what's going on to the mobster. Still with Crawford in it and from what the beginning sounds like I can only rate it at best a 6/10.

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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg147021#msg147021

dave jenkins:   You're selling this one short. It's my favorite of the 40s-50s Crawfords (not counting the non-noir Daisy Kenyon): a tough-as-nails tale that really moves. The summary that you quote above takes place in about the first 5 minutes of the film; then we get Joan clawing her way to the top over the bodies (metaphorically speaking) of Kent Smith, David Brian, and finally a very dashing Steve Cochran. This is one of the best examples there is of the Warner formula (cheap, fast, and tough).

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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg147032#msg147032

cigar joe:  Fair enough. Like I said I only saw the last 30 minutes, and was rating it based on my dislike of Crawford, I'll give it another go if it pops up again, you bet.

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« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 03:32:16 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 03:39:36 AM »

I give this one an 8/10


In a supporting performance, Steve Cochran was terrific; while the lead actor, David Brian, was merely average.

I read a 2008 book about the 85-year history of Warner Bros.; which says that The Damned Don't Cry has been "nearly forgotten." Indeed, I see that currently, less than a thousand people have rated it on imdb, so this must not be a well-known film.
That's surprising, cuz this is a very good movie, and looking on Amazon, I see that it has been available on dvd since 2005, and is also available as part of two different larger collections (one is a big Joan Crawford Collection; the other is teh TCM Greatest classic legends Joan Crawford 4-movie collection). The dvd is unavailable from Netflix, but I rented the digital file from iTunes.

Anyway, I'd definitely suggest giving this one a watch if you haven't seen it yet  Afro

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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 01:54:12 PM »

“Don't talk to me about self-respect. That's something you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else.”

I have been a little bit on a Joan Crawford binge lately and though I can’t profess to be an unabashed fan of the actress, she certainly makes a fascinating object for study. What jumps to the eye right away  when viewing especially her later movies is a recurring theme that runs through them. To get a deeper understanding of films like Mildred Pierce, Flamingo Road, Possessed and The Damned Don’t Cry to name a few, one has to look at the phenomenon that was Crawford herself and in the process dig a little deeper into her mental make-up.

Crawford has often been called The Ultimate Movie Star. Crawford pictures were star vehicles, running along the same lines.
She sold glamour and an image of herself. She perfectly understood her craft and was nothing if not a consummate professional.

Crawford’s life was the classic Hollywood rags-to-riches story. Born into poverty, she knew from an early age that she wanted to BE somebody. Her only desire was to be a star and her ambition was all-consuming. She wanted money, success, respect, nice clothes, luxury… And she was not too choosy in her methods to achieve her goals.

Gossip columnist Louella Parsons said of her: “She is the only star I know who manufactured herself…she drew up a blueprint for herself …and then set out to put life into the outline.” If this sounds suspiciously like a plot of one of her movies, that’s because it is. Crawford literally invented herself. She used every hour of the day to promote herself and her image. BEING Joan Crawford took precedence over everything else.

Not a trained actress, she lived her roles more than she played them. Especially from the mid-40s onwards the recurring plot line was the women from the wrong side of the tracks who claws her way to the top and succeeds against all odds. This type of films fit her like a glove, because it used elements of its star’s life story. They revolved around Crawford, she’s not so much in them, as she IS the movie.
Thus the Joan Crawford formula was born, which could seamlessly be combined with any other formula, be it gangster movie, Noir or woman’s melodrama.
And her loyal fans loved her for it, notwithstanding script absurdities.

Crawford was without a doubt a control freak, she craved total control on the set over every aspect of filming. As the center of attention, nobody could be favored above her. Her jealousy of other actresses was legendary, and her control issues most certainly led her to choose male co-stars who were not only younger but often much less famous and well-established than she was, if they weren’t outright nonentities.
In The Damned Don’t Cry, we have contract player David Brian, B actor Steve Cochran and nice but dull-as-dishwater Kent Smith. They all just act as a foil for Crawford’s star performance.
Brian though is amazingly charismatic as snake-like gangster, and testosterone-laden Cochran, as always, steal the show though that surely couldn’t have been Crawford’s intention. A little misstep maybe on her part.

Loosely based on the story of Bugsy Siegel and Virginia Hill, The Damned Don’t Cry was directed by “woman’s director” Vincent Sherman for WB. Sherman and Crawford had an affair during filming which lasted though all of their three collaborations together.

The film has some ludicrous plot contrivances, but what Noir hasn’t? Yes, it’s hokum, a lurid and trashy potboiler, but the film effectively conveys a sense of moral ambiguity and entrapment that builds around Crawford and her descent into a life of crime from which there is no escape. To me this pictures has everything a torrid melodrama should have, even if it is completely overwrought. Or maybe just because of it.

Sherman knew perfectly how to exploit the Crawford persona, but is smart enough not to let her be so completely corrupted by easy money that she condones murder. In the end, she escapes being one of the damned, because she has the ability to weep for her sins.
The movie boasts memorable characters galore and is brimming with quotable lines.

The film starts out with a “where did I go wrong” flashback confession from Crawford in which she recalls the events that drove her back home to her parents’s house, the last place she ever wanted to revisit.
Crawford plays Ethel Whitehead (what a name), a miserable drudge from the wrong side of the tracks married to a poor oil worker. The death of her little son shows her that living by the rules doesn’t get her anywhere. From this point forward “I want something more out of life and I’m gonna get it” becomes her mantra and so morality goes out of the window. She takes off to New York where she catches on pretty fast to life in the big city. She becomes a model but soon finds out that “private fittings” with customers, I mean buyers, are a lot more lucrative. On top of being an escort, she becomes a cast-iron gold digger and climbs the social ladder to the top one gullible suitor at a time.
On the way up she encounters mild-mannered account Martin Blackford (Kent Smith) who’s easy pickings. He wants to marry her, but she’s set her sights a bit higher. He lacks her compelling drive and ambition and so becomes negligible. She then becomes the mistress of big-time gangland boss George Castleman (David Brian), and ice-cold snake, who helps her reinvent herself as mysterious socialite Lorna Hanson Forbes. All this luxury has its price though and Castleman’s price is her help in bringing down his underling Nick Prenta who’s gotten a bit too big for his own good. Lorna is supposed to use all her “charms” for this task which she does. Regrettably there is just the small problem of murder to deal with. The inevitable showdown of all involved ends in tragedy…

That is noir: the world is a dark place and sucks all the goodness out of the decent people. Corruption becomes the only way ahead. Success by any means is everyone’s philosophy. Martin is willing to go along for the ride leaving his scruples behind because he thinks he can win Lorna. For her he’s just a step up the ladder. Lorna tries to take the boys on in their own world and uses sex to compete because it’s the only currency she’s got. She does understand that what she’s doing is morally wrong, it’s just that right and wrong have become inconsequential and her moral compass has slipped.
Castleman did everything to leave his lowly beginnings behind. His power is a strong aphrodisiac for Crawford and their relationship is a twisted struggle for control.
Noir has been described as suffering with style and this is certainly the case here. Joan suffers beautifully, in mink and pearls which takes the edge off considerably.

Crawford makes hers transformation from downtrodden housewife to glamorous socialite believable even though a good bit of suspension of disbelief is required. But that is a testament to her acting ability. You can’t take your eyes off her though she is most certainly too old for her part. Even over-the-hill Joanie doesn’t disappoint.
In later years she was often the butt of jokes and not unjustifiably so. She hardened into a parody of herself, but Joan was nothing if not tenacious. By the early 1950s Joan Crawford was coming towards the end of her spectacular run as one of the leading female stars of Hollywood and even with her best years behind her, she was still a force to be reckoned with though it became increasingly hard to believe Crawford as the irresistible siren the script requires her to be. But by sheer force of spirit she manages to rise above absurdities and make tosh enjoyable.

When lesser pictures fail, it's often because the actors can't put across the ridiculous plot contrivances. Crawford always could.

« Last Edit: February 21, 2017, 01:55:57 PM by Jessica Rabbit » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 04:16:23 AM »

I bought the DVD of this and upped my rating a point to 7/10.

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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 09:15:25 AM »

Quote
I bought the DVD of this and upped my rating a point to 7/10.

I have the DVD too, it looks great. I understand people who don't like Crawford. To be honest, I can't say I particularly like her. She's not in my top 5 of actresses, maybe not even in the top 10. But somehow I always enjoy her movies. Next up a rewatch of Mildred Pierce.

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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 02:06:31 PM »

Nice review Jessica! I enjoyed it. You are a good writer  Afro

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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 08:06:53 PM »

I have the DVD too, it looks great. I understand people who don't like Crawford. To be honest, I can't say I particularly like her. She's not in my top 5 of actresses, maybe not even in the top 10. But somehow I always enjoy her movies. Next up a rewatch of Mildred Pierce.

Mildred Pierce's opening sequence at the beach house is great.

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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 08:10:04 PM »

Mildred Pierce's opening sequence at the beach house is great.

Yes it is - after that, I'm not sure if it really qualifies as a noir visually at least.

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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2017, 10:17:23 PM »

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Nice review Jessica! I enjoyed it. You are a good writer
Thank you. I try my best.

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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 03:30:10 AM »

Yes it is - after that, I'm not sure if it really qualifies as a noir visually at least.

Agree, it never achieves that high level again.

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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2017, 11:21:59 AM »

It's two films in one. The main film is a fairly straightforward woman's picture, typical of the time. This is bookended with a murder mystery, introduced in noir terms at the beginning, then resolved at the end. The two-in-one strategy was calculated to bring in a wide audience, a strategy that seems to have worked.

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