Saturday, 11 June 2016

Too Late For Tears (1949)

“Excellent Late 1940s Noir”

Another missing film from the classic era of noir gets the restoration treatment and a dual format Blu-ray and DVD release from Arrow. Unlike its companion release, WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950), TOO LATE FOR TEARS is less action-orientated, stagier and a lot more plot-heavy. In fact it’s the convolutions of the well-written, intricate script that form one of the main reasons for catching up with this one.

On their way to a party Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott) and her husband Alan (Arthur Kennedy) narrowly miss a car coming in the other direction. The vehicle slows down long enough for a bag containing what turns out to be $60 000 to be thrown into their rear seat.

Almost as soon as they discover the bag’s contents the problem arises of what to do with the money. Alan wants to turn it into the police but Jane wants to keep it. Eventually they reach a compromise with Alan checking the bag into Union Station while they decide what to do. Jane has reckoned without Danny (Dan Duryea) who is looking for ‘his’ money and knows where the Palmers live. More interested in keeping the cash than her husband, Jane concocts a scheme with Danny that leads to Alan’s death. Now she has to dispose of her husband’s body, unaware that her problems have only just begun

Thoroughly engrossing for its 99 minute running time, TOO LATE FOR TEARS offers a complex plot that’s never difficult to follow. Byron Haskin’s direction only pays lip service to the stylistic flourishes one might associate with the genre, but I suspect he was too busy making sure the audience could follow what was going on. What the movie does possess, however, is an insidious, slowly developing atmosphere of utter mistrust, where by the end you’re wondering if everyone you’ve met (even the dead ones) have secrets you’ve not yet been made party to. 

Arrow’s disc gives us a restoration that’s not what you’d call sparkling, but as all that’s previously been available are grotty old public domain prints, if you’re a fan of this one and that’s all you’ve seen you’ll want to grab this. And again, as I said with WOMAN ON THE RUN, if you’ve not sampled the grim delights of film noir before, this is actually a pretty good place to start. Extras include a short piece on the restoration job, a sixteen minute making of, and a feature commentary by film historian Alan Rode. 

Byron Haskin's TOO LATE FOR TEARS is out from Arrow Films in a dual format edition on Monday 13th June 2016

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