Tag Archives: Films to watch

Film Noir Friday: Too Late for Tears

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Lizabeth Scott as Jane Palmer

Too Late for Tears was originally released in 1949 starring Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy and Kristine Miller. The film was Directed by Byron Haskin, written by Roy Huggins and adapted from a serial by Roy Huggins. In the public domain, Too Late for Tears is available to watch on YouTube in pristine condition. An original print was found in France and restored at UCLA. This edition premiered on TCM on July 17, 2015.

After a bag of cash is thrown into their backseat by mistake a husband and wife disagree on what to do with it. Alan Palmer, played by Arthur Kennedy wants to turn it in. His wife Jane, played by Lizabeth Scott, wants to keep the money. Things soon go south for her when she meets Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea) who claims the money is his. Jane tries desperately to keep the money, going so far as to kill her own husband and bring Fuller into it. As she grows more ruthless, Jane’s sister in law Kathy (Kristine Miller) becomes suspicious of her so she calls in a man from his past.

Too Late for Tears showcases the perfect example of a Femme Fatale. A beautiful women who pulls the strings even as the anti-hero attempts to gain control. Much like the better known Femme Fatale’s like Barbara Stanwyck’s turn as Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity, Jane Palmer seduces a man into helping her get away with the murder of her husband. While Stanwyck’s role as Phyllis was straight up seduction, things for Jane are a little different. There was no original plan for her to do this but she was sick of the mundane life she was leading. Being a house wife was not for her so when given the opportunity to change her life she went for it. She was willing to risk her life and things resulted in murder just so she could hold onto it. Beneath the wide eyed innocence that she seems to pull off so perfectly is a killer who’s main goal is to grab a huge chunk out of life damn the consequences.

When a film is found or restored I will always recommend it. Especially if that film is good or at least interesting. Too Late for Tears is one of my new favorite films of the genre. The main focus is on the female protagonist and while there are big male roles in the film it is the woman that does most of the dirty work. Film Noir has always been one of my favorites due to the complexity of the female characters and this film is no exception. It gives us a character that appears innocent and thirsty for adventure on the surface but beneath it all she is thirsty for a lot more. She shows weakness, strength and a vigorous need to fight back. That vigor however will be her end.

 

Netflix Pick of the Week: Sunset Boulevard

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Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond

Los Angeles resident and famed director Billy Wilder wondered about the lives of retired actresses famous in the days of silent pictures. They still lived in the grand Beverly Hills houses they bought during their career. How is their existence molded by their past lives as film stars? Wilder concocted his own story and imagined the world of an aging, reclusive former film star he named Norma Desmond.

Starring former Vamp of the silver screen, Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard was destined to be a hit. Along side the legendary actress, William Holden starred as down on his luck screenwriter Joe Gillis.  Told in flashback and narrated by Gillis as he recalls the events leading up to his death.

Sunset Boulevard stands out in a genre that had become saturated by the time of its release. A large part of that is most likely due to co-writer Charles Brackett and Writer/Director Wilder who is famous for his work in Noir; having directed two of the best in the genre. Before Sunset Boulevard, Wilder made Double Indemnity, a 1944 Film Noir starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Double Indemnity is often sited as the film that fits into most categories in the genre and six years later Wilder would direct Desmond, I mean Gloria Swanson in her close up.

Even if you haven’t seen this film chances are you can picture it. A garish middle aged women, a reclusive film star who lives in the past; her dreams of a comeback subverted by her break from reality. Sunset Boulevard’s image of Desmond descending the stairs is engrained in the minds of film lovers everywhere.

Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorites from the genre. It almost acts as a satire of both Film Noir and the industry itself. Not a lot has changed in the years since so many women everywhere can relate to the harsh reality of aging. Apparently we just aren’t as appealing to an audience of men that want us stuck in our twenties. For actresses their careers are harder to lengthen due to the lack of roles offered to women as they age. For men however their careers seem to get better. Norma Desmond is a product of the fantasy world that created her and spat her out when she got a little too old to stand next to the men her age. Stuck in the fantasy world of her own making and with the help of her butler Norma Desmond tries to find a way back into the world she once loved so much but it is her break with reality that will be her final undoing.

Sunset Boulevard is available to watch on Netflix. Below is a clip from the film and an introduction into the crazy world of Desmond herself.

“I am big, it’s the pictures that got small”.