Thursday, August 12, 2010

TOO LATE FOR TEARS aka KILLER BAIT


TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949/aka Killer Bait). Director: Byron Haskin.

This picture was re-released under the much more appropriate title Killer Bait. Jane and Alan Palmer (Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy) are driving to a party when suddenly someone throws a valise full of loot into the back of their convertible. Jane wants to keep quiet and keep the money, while Alan thinks it would be better to turn it into the police. While they decide what to do, Alan puts the money in a baggage check at the train station. Then Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea) comes calling, wanting his money back ...

Killer Bait is full of lots of intriguing plot twists, none of which I will give away here. Suffice it to say it's a thoroughly absorbing crime thriller that boasts perhaps Scott's finest and most ferocious performance. Dan Duryea is equally outstanding, and Kennedy gives his usual fine support. The normally dull Don Defore was a surprise as a military friend of Alan's, and Kristine Miller is lovely as Alan's sister, Kathy. While it might have been nice to have this directed by Hitchcock, Haskin does keep things moving at an absorbing pace. Roy Huggin's screenplay, based on his Saturday Evening Post serial, is almost completely unpredictable and full of nice touches and dimensional characters. "Jane Palmer" is a fascinating portrait of a certain type of personality.

Verdict: Excellent performances, great script, make this one of the best film noirs ever. ***1/2.

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