The Damned Don't Cry! [Import]
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It's a man's world. And Ethel Whitehead learns there's only one way for a woman to survive in it: be as tempting as a cupcake and as tough as a 75-cent steak. In the first of three collaborations with director Vincent Sherman Joan Crawford brings hard-boiled glamour and simmering passion to the role of Ethel who moves from the wrong side of the tracks to a mobster's mansion to high society one man at a time. Some of those men love her. Some use her. And one a high-rolling racketeer abuses her. When the racketeer murders his rival in Ethel's swanky living room she flees a sure murder rap right back to the poverty she thought she had escaped. And this time there may not be a man to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.Running Time: 103 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA UPC: 012569683648
Joan Crawford bashes her way through this melodrama inspired by the Bugsy Siegel-Virginia Hill story. Our girl walks out of tacky poverty at the beginning and re-shapes herself into a fur-lined mobster's moll, her will of steel out-pointing the men at every stop. David Brian (recently her Flamingo Road co-star) is the looming blond monster who runs the organization, Steve Cochran is the Bugsy guy building his own network in Nevada, and Kent Smith is the meek accountant Joan bullies into becoming a syndicate player. It's all from that mid-career post-Mildred Pierce period that served Crawford so well, with the full-on film noir look (Ted McCord photographed) and the strong whiff of American sleaze.
Joan Crawford's face had assumed its masklike quality at this point, and at times she seems more of a business manager than an actress: organizing each scene, pushing the story along to its next stop. In its own over-the-top way, it works: there isn't a moment when she doesn't seem capable of devouring anybody that stands in her way. Everything is writ large in this movie, which makes it a fitting target for a Carol Burnett send-up... and which also makes it a great deal of fun. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
Typically another powerful performance from Crawford.
Under the production staff of:
Vincent Sherman [Director]
Harold Medford [Screenwriter]
Jerome Weidman [Screenwriter]
Gertrude Walker [story "Case History"]
Jerry Wald [Producer]
Daniele Amfitheatrof [Original Film Music]
Ted D. McCord [Cinematographer]
Rudi Fehr [Film Editor]
1. Vincent Sherman [aka: Abraham Orovitz] [Director]
Date of Birth: 16 July 1906 - Vienna, Georgia
Date of Death: 18 June 2006 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
2. Joan Crawford [aka: Lucille Fay LeSueur]
Date of Birth: 23 March 1905 - San Antonio, Texas
Date of Death: 10 May 1977 - New York City, New York
3. David Brian
Date of Birth: 5 August 1914 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 15 July 1993 - Sherman Oaks, California
4.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Crawford plays Ethel Whitehead, who will change her name along with her history when she hits the east coast. Whitehead becomes oil heiress Lorna Hansen Forbes and works her way up the food chain by devouring men who succumb to her beauty. The first test feed is small fry Martin Blackford (Kent Smith), an accountant Lorna seduces - as seduction was done in 1950 - and whose coattail she rides until she's swimming with the big fish. East coast crime boss George Castleman (David Brian) and west coast boss Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) will both find themselves grinding through the mill that is Lorna's love. Men fall for her like ten pins and she tosses them away like yesterday's newspaper when she's done with them. The special feature documentary "The Crawford Formula: Real to Reel" tell us, and director Vincent Sherman confirms that Crawford sought out and befriended directors and cameramen, who in turn would make sure their friend Joan looked her best.
THE DAMNED DON'T CRY is supposed to chronicle the transformation of a simple, lower-class housewife into a dazzling socialite with some unfortunate ties to big time criminals. According to Sherman's otherwise disappointing commentary the transformation works because she (Crawford the housewife) `was naïve, simple and sweet.' It was the only time I laughed out loud during the movie or any of the extras. `Simple' and especially `sweet' aren't the first words that come to mind when describing Crawford in this picture. Barracuda, mercenary, cut-throat, and a few dozen other words pop in mind, but not simple and sweet. For all the soft-focusing and center-framing director Sherman and cinematographer Ted McCord throw at Crawford, they aren't able to disguise the fact that this is a 46-year-old hard-bitten actress on the screen.
Anyway, Crawford learns that `the world isn't for nice guys' and gains access to the big, bad boys before discovering that there's more to life then knowing that one does not wear orchids in the afternoon. I didn't buy what the movie was selling for a minute, but it was stylishly done and moved forward at a brisk pace. Brian and Cochran were good as the seedy thugs aspiring to refinement. Crawford, to my surprise (haven't seen many of her pictures), had an ingratiating charm in some scenes that smoothed things over some. Solid entertainment.
Based on a story by Gertrude Walker the story opens with a distraught woman dressed in a beautiful mink coat arriving at a dreary old house on the outskirts of the coal fields. She is no ordinary woman however as the story reveals and Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford) appears to be escaping from some dangerous past. With her story told in flashback we first see Ethel as a down trodden, financially strapped housewife married to a hard working but unimaginative husband Roy (Richard Egan), living with her parents and having to bear the criticism of her harsh father. Ethel's existence is shattered when her young son is killed while out riding the new bike his mother had just bought for him despite the disapproval of her husband. Deciding life must have more to offer than this existence Ethel packs up and moves to the city where she finds work firstly in a cigar store and then in modelling clothes for a firm handling out of town buyers which often involves the women being the "dates" for the travelling salesmen. Ethel gains in self confidence and in the belief in her own attractiveness towards men and when she meets gifted accountant Martin Blackford (Kent Smith), Ethel sees her chance to develop a better life. She pushes Martin into an involvement with the owner of a local nightclub to handle his financial affairs for a good price and from there they make the acquaintance of hardened gang land figure George Castleman (David Brian), who sets up a reluctant Martin as his organisation's chief accountant. Martin does it solely to please Ethel who he is in love with and proposes mariage to despite disapproving of Castleman's shady operations. Ethel however has her sights set much higher and begins an affair with Castleman during which she undergoes a complete transformation emerging as the mysterious but socially prominent Lorna Hanson Forbes. However the luxury apartment, beautiful clothes and world travel provided by Castleman have their price as she now discovers when she is caught in a plan by George to remove one of his underlings Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) who is in charge of Castleman's operation in the west coast area of Palm Springs. Lorna reluctantly travels out to Palm Springs to spy on Nick for Castleman however she ends up falling in love with him and attempts to head off the inevitable show down between the two men that will only end in Nick's death. A now hardened Martin travels out to Palm Springs to warn Lorna that Castleman is onto her and when Castleman himself arrives there is a shootout which sees Nick killed and Lorna fleeing the scene in a frantic effort to get away from him. He however follows her back to her impoverished parents house and in one final fiery showdown between Lorna, Martin and Castleman where she is injured Ethel/Lorna finds herself right back where she began all those years ago with only a mink coat as evidence of her former glittering life as the "socially prominent", but equally mysterious, Lorna Hanson Forbes.
Largely based on the story of Las Vegas gangster Bugsy Siegel and his mistress Virginia Hill, "The Damned Don't Cry" proved to be one of the strongest vehicles that screen legend Joan crawford had enjoyed in some time. At this stage in her ever enduring career the role of Ethel Whitehead/Lorna Hansen-Forbes was one that suited Joan Crawford perfectly and in this lurid story she makes the absolute most of the meaty part. Rarely have I enjoyed her as much as here and the unique thing is that she makes her character's transformation from dowdy law abiding housewife to mistress of a mobster totally believable and she is equally riverting in both parts. Joan Crawford enjoyed a very successful collaboration with director Vincent Sherman here and in her next feature when she went on loan out to Columbia Studios for the suberb "Harriet Craig" and indeed by this stage in her career Crawford undoubtedly knew as much about directing herself as those hired to perform the task. She is totally compelling on screen and never for a moment does she really share the screen with anyone as the viewers attention seems to be constantly fixed on her. What is so pleasing about "The Damned Don't Cry", is that it provides such a strong central woman's role despite the story being the "rough and tumble man's story", type of product so familiar in the output at Warner Bros. Despite the Crawford powerhouse the two leading males in David Brian as the ruthless George Castleman and Steve Cochran as his rival Nick Prenta also make memorable impressions. One critic likened David Brian's character to a snarling cobra and that's a perfect description of his character here and rarely has Brian been so effective on screen. He enjoys an electric chemistry with Joan Crawford and their scenes together especially when the cracks start appearing in their relationship are especially noteworthy. Production wise "The Damned Don't Cry", has alot of the famed "noir" look about it and the cinematography is especially effective in depicting the drab and grainy existence of down trodden Ethel Whitehead which stands in stark contrast with the filmy look to those scenes when Ethel becomes Lorna and is enjoying the good life of priviledge in New York and Palm Springs which is further enhanced with some wonderful location photography in the desert resort. Sheila O'Brien's fashions for Joan Crawford are another visual standout in "The Damned Don't Cry", perfectly tracing the rise and fall of Ethel Whitehead from coal town to the heights of international society.
The saying "they sure don't make 'em like that anymore", is an apt description of "The Damned Don't Cry"., and for all Joan Crawford fans who like to see her in commanding, fully cut roles this one is a real treat. Along with "Harriet Craig", it is by far my favourite Crawford vehicle from the 1950's and it has everything a full bodied melodrama should have with ruthless men always ready to pull a gun, and classy no nonsense women who are prepared to use their "charms", to get ahead in a man's world. Joan Crawford like no other actress was perfect for these hard broiled type roles and she makes a real meal out of her part turning a fairly unbelievable story into an exciting and highly entertaining viewing experience. Don't miss Joan Crawford in one of her last Warner Bros. roles before she became a freelance actress in the sordid and fast moving "The Damned Don't Cry".