The Damned Don't Cry (1950) Poster

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Very Nice-Looking Noir-Melodrama
ccthemovieman-124 January 2006
For me, the best part about this film was the exceptional lighting which made this a great movie to see on DVD. The great black-and-white photography reminded of films like The Sweet Smell Of Success and To Kill A Mockingbird. The camera-work in this movie does not take a backseat to those great films, believe me.

Story-wise, it's a somewhat-familiar Joan Crawford movie with a bit more emphasis on the melodrama than the film noir, a la Mildred Pierce. That's a compliment because "Mildred" was a well-crafted story and so is this. It's an effective mixture of drama and noir. However, unlike "Mildred," this Crawford character ("Ethel" aka "Mrs. Forvbes") has a worldly edge to her with a chip on her big shoulders. It's tough to sympathize with her in this story, frankly.

Kent Smith plays her naive, wimpy dupe for much of the film but when David Brian enters the scene, the movie really picks up. Gangster Brian is nobody's patsy and he's fascinating, portraying the most intense character in the story.

This is another one of the fine classic movies that never got a VHS showing but finally got a break with a recent DVD release, which is all the better since the camera-work is deserving of the nice look this transfer gives it. Once more, another impressive movie from 1950, one of the better years Hollywood ever had.
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The Damned Would Cheer After Seeing this Film ****
edwagreen28 September 2008
5 years after "Mildred Pierce" and Joan Crawford is at it again. Again, she is poor and is willing to climb to the top no matter what. In this film, she becomes involved with organized crime and becomes a real pro in being used to infiltrate other wayward mobsters.

From poverty to that Mildred Pierce mink, Crawford gave a truly memorable performance. She will stop at nothing to get to the top.

Along the way, she seduces timid accountant, played masterfully by Kent Smith, to join the mob only two realize that the two of them are trapped.

Another favorite co-star of Crawford, David Brian appears as the head mobster who is against violence but must come to grips with it when renegade hood, the always terrific Steve Cochran, seduces Crawford and then goes after her when he discovers that she is a Brian stooge.

This is a gripping film-noir at its best.
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Excellent Performances
drednm3 July 2009
The hard-working Joan Crawford scores again in this 1950 film. Here she plays a working-class mom who witnesses her son get killed while she's fighting with her oafish husband (Richard Egan). She bails the marriage and ends up as a two-bit model in a small dress manufacturing company. She models and takes clients out for a good time.

The she meets a timid bookkeeper (Kent Smith)and together they worm their way into a mob-like syndicate run by brutal David Brian. As they work their way up the ladder, Joan's small-town girl is transformed into a faux oil heiress/socialite with the help of a real-lie but broke socialite (Selena Royle). But when Joan is asked to head west (to Las Vegas) to get the goods on a scheming subordinate (Steve Cochran), all hell breaks loose.

Crawford is superb here. At age 45 or so she looks great and gets to display a range of emotions as the tough-and-determined Ethel/Lorna. Egan, Royle, Brian, and Cochran are all excellent. This one ranks among Crawford's best Warners films and not to be missed.
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Loose reworking of the Bugsy Siegel-Virginia Hill affair
blanche-224 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Joan Crawford revitalized a flagging career when she left MGM and signed with Warner Brothers in the '40s. "The Damned Don't Cry" is just one of the very entertaining films she made for Warners, which include "Mildred Pierce," for which she won an Oscar and "Flamingo Road." The formula usually follows the rags to riches line, something Crawford was very good at indeed.

Here, she's Ethel Whitehead, a wife and mother of a young boy who dies in an accident, at which point Ethel takes off seeking money, nice things, and the fun she's never had in life. She soon comes to the attention of a clothes manufacturer who has her model the clothes and encourage the buyers to spend their cash after hours. She rides the coattails of a bland CPA (Kent Smith) into the mob domain of George Castleman (David Brian), who gives her a life she only dreamed of - a society name, expensive digs, great trips, clothes and jewels - and no ring on third finger, left hand. Not that anyone has mentioned if she divorced her first husband (Richard Egan). Castleman, suspicious of Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) who runs his western territory sends Ethel - now "Lorna Hanson Forbes" out to investigate and inveigle her way into Prenta's life to find out what he's planning. It's then that "Lorna" realizes she's just another thing that Castleman uses.

This is a slick, fast-moving noir that is basically all Joan all the time. Surrounded by a strong cast, she's the only real star, and she looks it in her beautiful clothes and jewels. She's at her glamorous best here in 1950, right before she hardened into almost a caricature of herself in the '50s and '60s. I can't agree that Crawford's age (46) gets in the way and that Ava Gardner would have been better. Ethel/Lorna is the type of role at which Joan excelled. It was believable, to me at least, that these men were all attracted to her - her character has guts, intelligence, beauty and sexuality. David Brian is her brutish boyfriend, and the scene where he surprises her out west is quite violent, even by today's standards. Steve Cochran is handsome, boyish, and thug-like as Prenta, and he comes on strong.

"The Damned Don't Cry" is directed with great spirit by Vincent Sherman and will keep the viewer involved throughout.
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Crackerjack Film Noir - Crawford at her best!
victrader2 October 2000
I have to say that this is one of my very favorite films. A truly entertaining movie. Briefly, Joan Crawford plays a good woman who's world is turned upside down by a tragic event. She decides to climb her way out of poverty by using everyone she comes in contact with and falling in with a lot of shady characters. She makes her way to a life of glamour and wealth, only to see it all fall apart when her bad karma comes back to haunt her. For all the Joan Crawford jokes - this is actually quite a good movie. The dialogue is crackling and all the actors are very good. Joan does not go over the top and gives a convincing portrayal of a woman who has lost her moral compass - but then regains it in the end. There are of course some melodramatic moments, but not too many. The production values are top notch - lots of location shooting - mainly in Palm Springs, to really get you into the setting of the film.

I would classify this film as a film noir - it starts out as who-done-it and features noir stalwart Steve Cochran. If you are looking for an entertaining flick - you can't go wrong with this one!
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Ambition, Murder and Betrayal
claudio_carvalho29 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When the dumped body of notorious racketeer Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) is found in the desert near the resort Desert Springs, the police officers investigate his belongings in his house. They find a movie and when they watch it, they see the socialite Lorna Hanson Forbes (Joan Crawford) with Nick in the swimming pool. They go to her house and find that she is missing and after a further investigation, they discover that she has never existed and the discovery of her association with the organized crime baffles the authorities.

Meanwhile Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford) returns to the poor house of her estranged parents and recalls when she was married with the rude worker Roy Whitehead (Richard Egan). When their six year-old son Tommy is hit by a truck and dies, Ethel leaves Roy and travels to New York. The ambitious Ethel finds a job and sooner she befriends the gangster Grady (Hugh Sanders). When she meets the accountant Martin Blankford (Kent Smith), Ethel convinces him to work for Grady. Sooner the powerful mobster George Castleman (David Brian) invites Martin to work for the mafia and Ethel becomes his lover, changing her name to Lorna Hanson Forbes and joining the dangerous world of murders and betrayals of the organized crime.

"The Damned Don't Cry" is a film-noir with a tale of ambition, murder and betrayal. Joan Crawford performs the role of an ambitious woman from the working class that finds social ascension in the men's world using her glamor and different lovers.

The story is based on the mysterious Virginia Hill, a woman without past that belonged to the upper-class and her lover Bugsy Segall, one of the most famous gangsters of the 40's. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Os Desgraçados Não Choram!" ("The Bastards Don't Cry!")
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Mistress To The Gangster Elite
bkoganbing10 June 2010
The Damned Don't Cry finds Joan Crawford on a roller-coaster ride from poverty, to riches, to notoriety and then to God knows where. Her fate is by no means clear at the end of the film.

Joan is an older version of the shop girl she played in her MGM days. She leaves her hard working, but dull husband Richard Egan after their little boy is killed in a traffic accident. She has beauty, but little else in the way of work skills. The answer is obvious, become a model.

The modeling gig gets her involved with the mob and she's soon trading up men from accountant Kent Smith, to mobsters, Steve Cochran, and David Brian. Along the way Joan acquires riches, polish, and a new name and identity of a wealthy Texas oil heiress. That's only befitting the position of mistress to the gangster elite.

With Virginia Hill's testimony before the Kefauver Committee and the spectacular death of Bugsy Siegel a couple of years earlier, the recognition of the characters played by Crawford and Cochran would have been easy for the movie-going public. In fact I'm surprised Steve Cochran never got to play Siegel in a biographical picture long before Warren Beatty did his film. Cochran would have been perfect in the role. Of course it was probably too close to Siegel's demise and a lot of Hollywood people might have been burned a bit.

David Brian is a sleek version of Lucky Luciano who was not as polished in real life as Brian is here. But beneath the polish, Brian's a deadly man although he would not be doing his own work if he was really Luciano at that stage. And Kent Smith in the Meyer Lansky part is really quite the stretch.

Crawford pulls all the stops out in The Damned Don't Cry. Her fans and others will really love this film.
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The Damned Don't Cry - they just sweat it out in this stylish noir
movieman-20012 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Damned Don't Cry" (1950) is really six different Joan Crawford movies all rolled into one, with a moral ambiguity that must have left the censors blushing. It stars Crawford as Lorna Hansen Forbes, a socialite who has been leading a conflicted double life that is about to catch up to her. When the body of bad boy, Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) turns up, Lorna's romantic connection is immediately investigated by the police. However, not before Lorna vanishes into thin air. This disappearance does indeed present a grave problem for the investigation, because it seems that Lorna Hansen Forbes never existed before she met Nick Prenta.

The police's confusion, of course, touches off a long flashback in which Lorna (previously known as Ethel Whitehead) is shown making the best of her impoverished marriage to Jim (Morris Ankrum) – an unhappy set of circumstances fraught with anti-climactic sterility. However, the marriage, like Ethel herself, is doomed to tragedy. With nothing more than self determination, Ethel/Lorna embarks upon a lucrative career as a back-stabbing, social climbing vixen. She uses men like disposable Kleenex to get where she wants to go. Eventually her bedroom prowess throws her into the arms of Nick, positioning Lorna as the lady behind a thug running one of the most notorious nationwide crime syndicates.

Director Vincent Sherman had his own notorious romantic goings on with Crawford while shooting this film and that hot blooded backstage tryst shows up on the screen. Both the actress and her performance have been oxygenated and primed to explode, with dilated twists and turns oozing from every facet of Gertrude Walker's lurid screenplay. But for all its torrid sexiness and slippery sinful attitudes toward a woman's 'place' in a world of ravenous male desire, "The Damned Don't Cry" comes across as something of a convoluted cropper.

It's initial film noir base is subverted in melodrama that dissolves into moments of subtle comedy, before bouncing into the sphere of over the top camp and kitsch. Though Crawford keeps all of these elements at bay, while central to her performance, she's really been thrown into the deep end of the pool here so to speak, artistically compromised in a very inarticulate bit of business that has her doing everything but card tricks and standing on her head in a bikini – though there is little doubt she would have done even this if the screenplay had commanded it.

Another near perfect transfer from Warner Brothers greets on this DVD. Gray scale is finely wrought with detail, solid blacks, clean whites and a minimal amount of film grain. There's no hint of edge enhancement for a very smooth picture that will surely please. The audio is mono as expected but very nicely cleaned up. Extras include a "Reel and Real" featurette analysis of the Crawford style of acting, as well as an audio commentary by director, Sherman – who really is more into raking smut about his star/lover than recollecting the film in a clinical and analytical way. Not that his commentary isn't interesting. But it does tend to run more toward tabloid headlining than serious audio track.
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Watch Joan act!
Holdjerhorses4 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Look. Let's get this outta the way right now. Joan Crawford was a fine -- even amazing -- screen actress. She herself said she was terrified of acting in the theatre, on a stage. That's not what she did, and she knew it.

Here, in "The Damned Don't Cry," at age 46, she's unafraid to show herself in minimal makeup as the mother of a young boy. Her character, "Ethel," is supposed to look haggard and careworn. Joan does. But she plausibly passes as the mother of a six-year old boy.

Joan Crawford can't act? Really? Review her stunning reaction close-up as she watches her son get run over on his bicycle by a truck. A naked, warts-and-all close-up electrifying and heartbreaking in its raw emotion. Even today, as brief as it is, it's almost hard to watch.

The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent -- except for Sara Perry as Joan's mother. She's not "bad." But among an intense cast of excellent, if not-quite-A-list actors, her line readings are exactly that -- line readings.

Contrast Perry's performance with Morris Ankrum's as Joan's father. In an instant -- his first glimpse of his daughter, Joan, through the screen door -- and in every subsequent scene, he forcefully establishes his character and develops it. Ankrum has little to do, throughout the film. Yet he's so solid an actor that he continually exposes layers of the hard life, spent dreams and vestiges of a loving heart, of this man.

Kent Smith -- utterly believable (and again, perfectly cast) as the noble but amorous accountant.

David Brian -- never better. Ten years younger than Miss Crawford (yes, he was only 36 when he filmed "The Damned Don't Cry"), Brian was apparently born young middle-aged. He effectively looked the same in every screen appearance for over 40 years. Like Crawford, Brian often isn't given credit for his acting chops. Though never given the opportunities to show his range, as was Crawford, Brian was never less than honest, on screen, compelling and dangerous.

Steve Cochran? 13 years younger than Miss Crawford. 33, in other words, to Miss Crawford's 46. Name a 46-year-old actress today who would dare appear on screen with a 33-year-old love interest.


Cochran is all male. You practically smell his armpits on the screen. Where are today's equally testosteroned leading men? Uh, nowhere. Matthew Broderick? Jude Law? Colin Farrell? Are you kidding? Plus, Cochran can actually act.

Watch his character arc from tough-guy hood, to clumsy suitor, to sensitive lover to betrayed patsy. Like Crawford, you love the guy, but you never quite trust him -- never know when he might explode. Terrific! Selena Royle, another casting coup, embodies Patricia Longworth perfectly -- from her first uncertainty as to the bloodstain on her carpet to her flashback scenes as a socially confident if venal leech.

But it's Crawford's picture from start to finish. (Weren't they all?) Yes, Harold Medord's script from Gertrude Walker's story is melodramatic. So are real lives, sometimes.

This superlative cast makes almost everything work.

Except for the too-cute-by-half final lines, uttered by the journalists on the scene.

That moment, and every moment that Sara Perry is on screen as Joan's mother, suddenly jerk us out of what almost feels like a documentary.

A powerful documentary, thanks to a roster of actors whose likes we may never see again.
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Joan Crawford gives an outstanding performance!
gitrich5 February 1999
Joan Crawford portrays a young woman on the edge of poverty who decides to change her life for the better. Unfortunately, she thinks that money is the answer to every problem. A smart drama, though formula most of the time. An excellent cast includes David Brian, Steve Cochran and Kent Smith. This is a film worth seeing.
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Damned Good Review
sadie_thompson4 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
(Part of this could POSSIBLY be considered plot-spoiling.) This is one of Joan Crawford's lost movies, or at least it was until it got released on DVD. I had never seen any part of it until the DVD release, but I had heard from various sources that it was in fact terrible. Pardon me, but I beg to differ. This is a stunning movie that manages to keep you entertained from start to finish, and isn't that what movies are for?

Joan Crawford plays Ethel Whitehead and her other persona, Lorna Hansen Forbes. The change is to better aid the gang she's gotten involved with, and I imagine she enjoys her taste of the good life. (Why the heck did she cut her hair, though? She looked much better to start with!) Unfortunately, the taste goes sour pretty darn quick, leave Ethel/Lorna in a spot. It also leads to the best scene in the movie, where she gets the crap slapped out of her. That is what makes this movie stand out for me--for once Joan isn't dishing it out, she's taking it. Granted, it's aesthetically pleasing violence that leaves her looking just as stylish as before, but still. I knew Joan Crawford was a marvelous slapper, but she's an even better slappee.

For me, there are several moments that make this movie great. The first is the scene that illustrates Ethel's acceptance of her "escort" job. (However, I can see how this scene would look ridiculous to a lot of people. Joan is a smidge too old to be doing what she's doing, but once you get past that it's great.) Ethel gives her partner her cut, which isn't nearly enough, and receives a tirade in return. She listens but for a moment, then turns around a walks off. When the partner continues, Ethel says "Ah, shut up." One of the best line deliveries Joan ever did, in my opinion. I think this part of the movie is a throwback to Joan's shopgirl movies. I can see an older Sadie McKee acting the same way. Even better, the scene reveals quite well just how ignorant Ethel is, but also how quickly she learns. When Martin explains to her that he's a CPA, she obviously has no idea what he's talking about. Once he straightens her out, she immediately uses it against someone. So, while she started out a step down, she used it to go an extra step up. It's wonderful stuff to watch.

Another well-done scene is the second, the scene in which we are introduced to Ethel Whitehead. It's very brief, with Ethel debating over whether or not to buy her son a bike, but very effective. Joan's acting is incredible here as well, and for some reason she looks much younger as a tired housewife than she does as a wealthy socialite.

I will gripe about something though. (Can't have a review where I don't complain, you know.) I disliked the character of George Castleman intensely. (Question to other film watchers--George lives in the Governors Mansion, and we're told that the Governor has ordered the meeting, but is George the governor? I don't think so, but it sure is implied. Somebody help me out with this.) George sucks, actually. Does he love Ethel? He says so, but why put her in such horrid situations? Why force her onto Nick Prenta when he has to know what will happen? My idea of love isn't shoving someone into the great gaping maw of death, which is what he seems to be doing. That's a minor gripe, though, and George is intended to be an a-hole, but still.

Another gripe, this one about the DVD. I haven't sat through Vincent Sherman's commentary, and I don't plan to. For Pete's sake, the man made tons of movies, he's two hundred years old, and all he can talk about is sleeping with Joan Crawford. If that's his only claim to fame he's a little bit sad. I have never seen the mention of his name with her's attached. I have never seen him speaking without mentioning their affair. MOVE ON, MAN!!! Everybody else slept with Joan Crawford too. He needs to rearrange his priorities. But, casual moviegoer, don't let that disturb your movie experience. A great movie--definitely one to be watched.
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minor classic
RanchoTuVu29 June 2006
An energetic film about a woman (one of Joan Crawford's best parts) who leaves her family and gets involved with a gambling syndicate. It's surprisingly good thanks to the pace and direction which keeps the focus on the main characters, all of whom become or already are corrupted by money, crime, society, or their own jaded world views. She had been watching the "American Dream" slip by with her tightwad husband who's played in an outstanding role by Richard Egan. It could get stereotyped and clichéd but doesn't thanks to the fine acting throughout by David Brian, Steve Cochran, Kent Smith, and of course Joan Crawford, who, though she was in her mid 40's, carried a role off that was sexy and ambitious.
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The Ruthless Pursuit Of Wealth & Power
seymourblack-120 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
With its attention-grabbing title and a rags-to-riches story that would obviously appeal to Joan Crawford fans, it's no surprise that "The Damned Don't Cry!" was a great box office success. It was based on Gertrude Walker's "Case History" which was inspired by the real-life story of Virginia Hill who'd had a relationship with Bugsy Siegel and interestingly, its tale of a woman who rises from very humble beginnings to great success, reflected (in some ways) Crawford's own history. Murder, double-crosses and ruthless ambition are key components of the plot and its fast pace and sharp dialogue ensure that the audience's interest is kept at a high level throughout.

The discovery of a murdered West Coast gangster near a desert road triggers a police investigation that reveals that his circle of friends included a well known socialite who can't be traced and could also have been murdered. From further checks, it soon becomes apparent that finding her will be difficult because she was clearly operating under a false identity. The woman in question is actually Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford) and her story is told in flashback as she recalls her miserable working-class life in a Texas oil town and the tragic accident in which her son was killed. This event made her determined to leave her husband and her poverty behind in order to seek a better life somewhere else.

In New York, Ethel works as a cigar store assistant and then a model for a clothing wholesaler where she makes extra money at night by entertaining the firm's out-of-town customers and taking them to an illegal gambling haunt. When she meets a very talented but rather diffident accountant called Martin Blankford (Kent Smith) and convinces a local restaurateur to employ him, the arrangement works out well for the two men who are both very grateful to Ethel. As a result of his brilliant work for his new employer, Martin is soon taken on by crime syndicate boss George Castleman (David Brian) who uses him as a bookkeeper for his gambling racket. Martin is not entirely happy with the criminal nature of his new role but is in love with Ethel and so is easily persuaded not to leave.

Ethel enjoys being a part of Castleman's set up and attracted by his power and wealth, promptly dumps Martin to become Castleman's mistress. Castleman employs a lady to train Ethel to be able to give the impression that she's more sophisticated and cultured than she actually is and as part of her transformation, Ethel changes her name to Lorna Hansen Forbes. When Castleman starts to doubt the loyalty of the man in charge of his Palm Springs operation, he persuades Lorna to ingratiate herself to Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) and do whatever's necessary to find out what he's planning. Complications arise when Lorna falls in love with Prenta and fails to report back to Castleman. A whole series of violent events follow which involve double-crosses, betrayal and revenge before the story finally reaches its dramatic conclusion.

Joan Crawford, in a strong performance, very effectively shows the intensity of Ethel's ambition as she becomes ever more manipulative, duplicitous and immoral in order to achieve the wealth and power that she so desperately wants. Similarly, she's also very convincing in showing the transformations that Ethel makes as she becomes more tough-talking when she moves to New York and then more dignified when she poses as a wealthy Texan socialite. Kent Smith, David Brian and Steve Cochran are also superb in their important supporting roles.

"The Damned Don't Cry!" is a movie that really seems to get an awful lot of story into its running time and remains thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
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"He's promised me the world, Marty, and I've got to have it."
jzappa17 October 2010
Take the old true-confession formula, stylize it with some panache and crown it with gangster violence. For here we have crime and its pay presented in the old recognizable blueprint of invented realism. Here we have Crawford playing a discouraged blue-collar worker's wife who leaves her despondent situation for a high and mighty calling, working up in a gangland milieu to the position of elegant lady to an important gang boss and then collapsing back to roots when a mob war eliminates her man.

Crawford runs the gamut of affected behavior in her latter-day hard-edged, unsmiling fashion. As a manual worker's spouse, she plays it without make-up and with her face deeply oiled. As a cigar-store clerk and clothes model, she plays it gristly, speaking the tough guy's line and looking the simple men directly and callously in the face. And as the eventually sophisticated lady she gives it all the superior stateliness that goes with champagne buckets and Palm Springs swimming pools.

Nevertheless, the men who support her run her a very close race. David Brian as the prevailing bigwig crime boss appears and behaves like the urban rogue in bucolic traveling sideshows. When he comes to a line such as this one, "I like a woman who has brains, but when she also has spirit, that excites me," he practically ends it with a lusty snigger. And Kent Smith, as a public accountant whom Crawford ensnares in the syndicate, plays a milquetoast so absolutely that his entire performance seems a train of nervous swallows. Steve Cochran as a cunning West Coast heavy and Selena Royle as a vagrant socialite do their jobs in a standard B-story, A-budget way.

Then again, as with countless crime dramas and film noir of the era, thematic images slip their way into the story through the deliberate compositions that connect to the sleight of hand of your psyche. And the story is absorbing owing to its appeal to the B-side of its characters, and its awareness that the bigger the schism from one part of a character's life to another, the more dramatic the story. And it's fun to watch Crawford and her male co-stars tackle the psychology.
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Piercing Kane
writers_reign16 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Based loosely on the real-life affair between socialite Virginia Hill and mobster Bugsy Siegel this entry is a curious hybrid of Citizen Kane and Mildred Pierce. Both Kane and Pierce begin with the death of a principal character then segue into flashback mode in an attempt to uncover the facts leading to the death. In Kane the death was a natural one and it is the media who instigate the flashback in the interests of a better news story; Mildred Pierce begins with a homicide (as does The Damned Don't Cry) and it is the police who want to get at the truth - as it is here. The Damned Don't Cry may not be in either league but it is far from chopped liver. Crawford turns in one of her finer performances and is light years ahead of her three leading men - Kent Smith, David Brian and Steve Cochran - in Masterclass Acting and the film is satisfying in virtually all departments.
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Joan Crawford: From Ethel Whitehead to Lorna Hansen Forbes
bmacv7 July 2003
Joan Crawford once again follows the familiar trajectory from poverty and discontent to affluence and deeper discontent. It was a storyline that would win her an Oscar in her comeback vehicle Mildred Pierce and would serve as a template for many of the films in the post-war decade for which she is so strongly remembered. And while it's not the best of them – it's derivative and overstuffed – it's far from the worst.

When her young son is killed, greasy-skinned drudge Ethel Whitehead (Crawford) leaves her loveless marriage and her sour parents' house next to the oilfields to seek the good life. In New York, her stint as a `model' at Fit-Right Frocks toughens her up, particularly the evenings spent entertaining out-of-town buyers (`I feel like something on sale in the bargain basement,' she gripes). Her avaricious eye lands on the firm's bookish accountant (Kent Smith), whom she propels from the poor-paying straight-and-narrow to the fat fees of cooking books for the syndicate. She has no time for his moral qualms: `Don't talk to me about self-respect! Self-respect is what you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else.'

But she drops the doting Smith like a hot brick when she finally meets Mr. Big (David Brian), who likes her spunk but opens the window on her strident perfume Temptation (`I suppose it some quarters,' he sniffs). He enrolls her in a kind of finishing school for high-class molls run by Selena Royle, even sending her abroad for a year so she can tell a flowerpot from an Etruscan `vahse.' Crawford emerges in `provocative' new guise, as oil heiress Lorna Hansen Forbes – a phony clotheshorse who becomes Brian's mistress and the toast of the town.

When sedition brews in the western end of Brian's crime empire, however, he sends her out to the gambling oasis of Desert Springs to spy on Steve Cochran (playing much the same role of disloyal lieutenant he did the year before in White Heat). Crawford and Cochran, of course, fall victim to Cupid's arrows. But Brian, grown suspicious, pays an unexpected visit, while Crawford's cover is blown when she's spotted by somebody who knew her as Ethel Whitehead....

The Damned Don't Cry benefits from a frisky script which nonetheless could use some pruning (the hardscrabble first marriage and the child's death are unnecessary echoes of Mildred Pierce). And Warner's new leading man Brian stays as charmless against Crawford as he was the year before against Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest; both Smith and Cochran, however, supply some acting that's at least two-dimensional. It's a story that shows Crawford as tough but not unvanquishable. In fact, she gets knocked around more than she ever was or would be until she matched up against Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Or married Alfred Steele.)
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Excellent forgotten Crawford film
maryszd19 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Joan Crawford plays Edith Whitehead, the worn-down wife of an oil worker who walks out on him after the accidental death of their only child. As another reviewer here has noted, this film is an interesting hybrid--both a woman's film and a film noir. It's a woman's film in the way she goes from rags to riches and changes her identity to that of Ethel Forbes, a wealthy socialite. It's noir in the sense that she accomplishes this by becoming a tough-talking gangster's moll. But she's not as smart as she thinks she is and in the end, gets taken down and ends up back with her parents in the same dreary house she started out in. In the vocabulary of women's films, she has to punished for daring to abandon her husband. But female viewers got to vicariously see her wear a lot of terrific clothes and get treated (at least temporarily) like a queen. Crawford acts well in this film, with a great supporting cast. A well-crafted film and unjustly neglected film.
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Crawford shines in routine melodrama
sdave75969 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"The Damned Don't Cry" released in 1950, stars Joan Crawford in the type of film she was famous for throughout much of her 'second' career at Warner Brothers. Crawford plays Ethel Whitehead, a working-class mother married to a loser. She stays with him because of their son; the son is then tragically killed, and Ethel leaves her dumbell husband and her parents behind. Ethel get hired as a "model," one who is also expected to entertain the male clientele. There she meets a dull but honest accountant, Martin (Kent Smith). He loves her and wants to marry her, but Ethel has her eyes on a new man, a handsome -- and dangerous --wealthy hotshot named George (David Brian). He introduces her to a world of riches beyond her wildest dreams, but at a price. The film gets involved and complicated, with George wanting Ethel (who has now changed her name to Lorna!) to seduce his rival, Nick, (Steve Cochran) to gain access to all his connections and secrets. The film has some implausible situations, to say the least. Crawford, at age 45, was a tad bit too old for the role, although she looks great. The character of slimeball Nick (Cochran) has wealth built on ruthlessness. He is obviously a good 12 - 15 years younger than Crawford, and his immediately falling for her seems a stretch, considering he could likely have any woman he wanted. Nevertheless, this is Crawford's show, and she does not disappoint, although the script is somewhat routine of movies of that era. The supporting players are fine in their respective roles. David Brian and Steve Cochran play their roles with all the appropriate sleaze required of them. Kent Smith, playing a milquetoast, turns out to be the real deal: his love for Ethel, in the end, does not waiver.
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Noir melodrama quite efficiently done
bob_gilmore126 June 2009
Joan Crawford delivers a vintage performance in this rags to riches story of married early middle aged woman who leave her husband following the tragic death of her son. She has had enough of the grinding poverty associated with living in a small house with her in-laws and husband which is positioned close to pumping oil wells. Her mission is to be someone important, a woman of society. The method used is that of sleeping her way to the top of the syndicate latter.

None of this material is new or groundbreaking. "Flamingo Road" released earlier when Crawford was nearing the end of her stay at Warner Brothers covered much of the same ground. The Damned though benefits from even brisker than usual pacing and a strong supporting cast. The increased sexuality of the storyline was indicative at all the major studios as they saw the rise in the popularity of television was starting to cut against their numbers.

It may not be of the caliber of "Mildred Pierce" but it is very representative of the performances she was giving at the time
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One Tough Film Noir
Tarasicodissa5 August 2002
I would differ with some earlier comments.

Ethel, Joan Crawford's character, isn't unhinged by her son's accidental death. She is liberated by it from a life of threadbare respectability stuck with a husband she knows she is smarter than. Of course she loved her son. But as she acknowledged to her husband, had it not been for her son she would have left a long time ago.

A word about Ethel's stint as a model. She was no high fashion model. She modelled garment district knock offs for retail buyers, the sleaze end of modelling in which part of the job (the script didn't precisely spell it out) was to sleep with the buyers.

Her relationship with Martin, the accountant, is the truest in the picture. He starts out an underpaid auditor who, like her, gets tired of threadbare respectability. After she leads him to the restaurant of a gangster pal of her's and he awkwardly points to a menu item and says that is his weekly wage, she sets him up as the gangster's bookkeeper. She shows him a world of flashy restaurants, lots and lots of money, and women. That is what I found unconvincing about the ending. Ethel and Martin were cut from precisely the same cloth. They are two of a kind and were meant to be together.
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My Name Is Mrs. Forbes
BumpyRide16 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a pretty good movie, no great shocks and stays on the predictability track but that's what we tune in for! We know we aren't going to see Masterpiece Theatre but we're guaranteed to see a gun packing Joan wearing a fur coat and jewels! This movie doesn't disappoint on all Joan fronts from dusting off her shoes in a small hick town and climbing up the social ladder to become a rich widow named Mrs. Forbes. What's fun is that she's a kept woman and her gangster boyfriend calls in his chips and needs her for a hit. When she declines, Joan gets beaten and flees back to her hick town roots to hide out, only to be found of course. After being gunned down in the street (in her fur coat no less) she pays for her sins and survives. This movie isn't as glossy as it could have been but it's good way to spend an evening.
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Joan the gangster's moll?
amhnorris6 June 2003
'The Damned Don't Cry' is an obvious attempt to capitalize on Joan Crawford's success with 'Mildred Pierce' (also made with Warner Bros.) Both films are melodrama tinged with noir, although I would certainly hesitate to classify 'Damned...' as a noir. It has a few of the noir trademarks, but is not executed particularly well enough to be considered as a true film noir.

Like 'Mildred Pierce' it begins with a murder, and is then told via Joan's (her character's name - don't laugh - is Ethel)flashback. We're then treated to some vintage down home Joan, again like her character in 'Mildred Pierce' she is a struggling mother trying to please her child. Instead of tryng to buy a dress for Veda, in 'The Damned Don't Cry' she is trying to purchase a bike for her pathetic son.

The morality of the 50s is in full effect here, again like 'Mildred Pierce'. In the latter film, when the woman leaves the family home and has desires for a professional life, chaos and misery begins. The same is true for 'The Damned...'. Ethel wants a life better than her near-poverty existence, having to leave her husband and child. Therefore, she must be punished in the eyes of the narrative. Ethel then gets mixed up in some gangster situations. There's one amusing scene where in a restaurant her date (a poor accountant) orders 'a chicken salad and a coffee' and Joan nearly has a seizure. The mise en scene changes when Ethel is involved with the criminal activities: a gothic mansion is used and the lighting begins to contrast between light and dark. But, again, not really enough to make a convincing case for this being a noir.

Joan gives a good performance as Ethel/Lorna. Certainly not one of her best, but she is particularly good in the final scenes. If you enjoyed 'Mildred Pierce' or 'Flamingo Road', this is one to watch.
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100% Film Noir cynicism
MartinHafer28 April 2006
This is a terrific film. It was very intelligently written and deserves more attention as one of the better Film Noir pieces (though you don't typically think of Joan Crawford as a Noir actress). Its cynical view of life, snappy dialog and betrayals make it a must see for buffs of this genre.

The only problem, and for me it's a serious one, is Ms. Crawford. While her performance is good, she was all wrong for the part due to her age. She was 46 years-old yet plays a sexy siren that men would die for,...and in one case, the guy is probably half her age. Joan played a lot of roles like this well into her 50s and it just made no sense. A younger actress like Ava Gardner would have been perfect for these roles. So, my advice is try to ignore this problem and enjoy the film anyway--I found that after a while I was able to put it aside and see she still did a good job acting and the film, overall, was exceptional.

The plot involves a woman who is very selfish and wants more out of life, so she leaves her dull husband. She has a very deliberate plan to claw her way to the top and "the top" means being a gangster's girl--but not just any thug, but the BIG CHEESE himself! But, once she's made it, things get complicated. Tune in to see what unfolds--you'll be glad you did.
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Ambitious girl climbs the ladder of crime...Crawford and Warners click with heated melodrama
moonspinner559 June 2010
Gertrude Walker's story "Case History", known at the time for being partly inspired by Virginia Hill's life, becomes tough Joan Crawford vehicle from Warner Bros., some of it wonderfully juicy. A runaway wife (guess who?) gets a job modeling clothes for a low-rent fashion company (while entertaining the clients after-hours!); she meets a timid accountant and introduces him to a shady nightclub manager, who then introduces the couple to the governor, a crook with ties to racketeering. The governor, married but having a torrid affair with our heroine, sends her out under an alias to spy on a casino owner who may be in-cahoots with the mob, and she falls for him too! Very lively, engrossing, and ridiculous--but enjoyably so. Joan gives a tight, taut performance (one of her best from this period), and she's matched wonderfully by smoldering Steve Cochran, snarling David Brian, and a young Richard Egan as the spouse she escaped from. Only Kent Smith stumbles as the CPA (his weak profile and slack chin make him an automatic doormat for any scenario). Otherwise good fun, though the title is mysteriously irrelevant. **1/2 from ****
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