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Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on September 15, 2013

Ralph Cotter (James Cagney) has just busted out of prison.  Helping him escape are his buddy Jinx (Steve Brodie) and Holiday Carleton (Barbara Payton), the sister of a fellow inmate.  Holiday’s brother was killed during the break… unbeknownst to her, it was Cotter who pulled the trigger.  Cotter insinuates himself into Holiday’s life and starts a new crime spree.  He holds evidence of Inspector Charles Weber’s (Ward Bond) corruption as protection, and enlists the services of crooked attorney “Cherokee” Mandon (Luther Adler) to help him cover all the bases.  But one base isn’t covered: the seductive Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter), a rich gal with a wild streak.  Cotter brings everyone around him down to his level, but the lure of Margaret might be his own downfall.

This just squeaks into the “Very Good” range on the strength of the performances.  Cagney is ruthless, almost as unpredictable and menacing as his role the previous year in White Heat.  This is a guy who has “danger” written all over him, despite his outward charms.  Payton, in one of her best roles before her tragic downfall, sells the disintegration of her character quite convincingly.  And fantastic supporting performances by Carter, Bond, Adler, Williams and Brodie.  It’s a terrific cast.

Unfortunately, the content of the movie is largely forgettable.  Noir films often tend to blend together in one’s memory anyway, but I honestly couldn’t remember one damn thing about this one from my first viewing three years ago.  That’s not to say there aren’t good scenes… in fact, I’d say there aren’t any bad ones.  But few moments truly stand out.  The most compelling thing about it is that the only thing that stops Cotter in his sadistic, selfish tracks is someone with wealth… the only true power in this world.  But in general, this is one you watch for the excellent performances, the brutality of the lead character, and a few delicious lines of dialogue.  Rating: Very Good (80)


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