Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


THE DAMNED DON'T CRY (1950). Director: Vincent Sherman.

Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford) leaves her husband (Richard Egan), parents, and small-town home after the tragic death of her little boy, and decides she'll do whatever it takes to keep from returning to a life of abnegation and sterility. Meeting the wrong kind of people via a modeling job, she convinces placid boyfriend Marty Blackford (Kent Smith) to go to work as bookkeeper for reinvented racketeer George Castleman (David Brian), and then gets the latter to help her reinvent herself as wealthy society widow Lorna Hansen Forbes. But Castleman is worried about the inroads made by colleague Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) on the west coast, and sends "Lorna" out to ingratiate herself with the hood and find out what's up, probably not the best of ideas ... Say what you will about this movie and its depiction of mobsters, it happens to be a very snappy, well-acted movie that is very entertaining and occasionally crackles with tension thanks to Sherman's adroit direction. Crawford gives a striking star performance, Brian is almost equally charismatic and commanding, and Steve Cochran manages to be both scary and appealing as the quick-tempered Nick. Smith does his usual solid job, and Edith Evanson and Morris Ankrum are excellent as Ethel's confused and disappointed parents. Jacqueline deWit scores as Ethel's brassy model acquaintance, Sandra, and as society lady Patricia Longworth, who helps Ethel convert to Lorna, Selena Royle makes you wonder just what's under the surface of this undeveloped supporting character. Kathryn Card, who played Lucy's mother on I Love Lucy, is cast as a employment agency counselor, and when Ethel complains about her offerings gets to say the line "well, there's the Republican presidential nomination -- would that suit you?'

Verdict: Snappy, well-made stuff indeed. ***1/2.

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