Too Late for Tears (1949)
What a silly, silly movie this is. Imagine if Patty McCormack's Rhoda Penmark from The Bad Seed grew up, got married, and started missing that penmanship medal. Maybe I'd been spoiled by the three Mexican pictures at Noir City 12 last Saturday. Or perhaps it was the huge buildup about how herculean the effort was to restore this lost "masterpiece" (five years, crazy twists and turns; that's the picture I would rather have seen).
But Too Late for Tears has a lot going against it: nutty plot, wooden acting, major implausibilities, and (in my opinion) not enough slapping of Lizabeth Scott. Scott plays Jane Palmer, a neurotic housewife bored with and apparently annoyed by her husband Alan (it is Arthur Kennedy). By sheer coincidence, the unhappy couple is careening past a blackmail dropoff site and accidentally acquires a bag fulla money. Alan wants to hand it over to the police; Jane wants furs and fine things, so they stash it for a week to mull it over. Alan seems to be able to forget about it and Jane goes on a spending spree.
(The Palmers don't seem to know each other very well.)
Meanwhile, my favorite nogoodnik, Dan Duryea, the guy for whom the money was intended, turns up at the Palmers's place and starts getting tough with Jane, then kind of falls for her. She kills Alan kind of by accident and Duryea kind of helps her get away with it. Jane tells everyone Alan ran off with another woman, but his sister Kathy (Kristine Miller), who lives across the hall (weird), doesn't buy it. About this time, Don DeFore drops by to fall in love with Kathy and to help foil Jane. He's got ten years to kill before Hazel, so why not?
It was OK, not the lost classic I'd expected. Lizabeth Scott does nothing for me as an actress; no subtlety, no nuance, just a weird sudden rictus when she's turning on the charm. It's not even chilling. Naturally, Dan Duryea did his damnedest, which is always damned good, and the best scenes were his. So charming. Such a good conflicted drunk.
Sigh. You may as well see it.