Starring: Lizabeth Scott, Arthur Kennedy, Dan Duryea
Director: Byron Haskin
Running Time: 99 mins
Too Late For Tears is an American film about a ruthless woman who chances upon a briefcase containing $60,000 in cash, stopping at nothing to keep the money for herself.
A sleek noir with a ruthless streak, Too Late For Tears proves an intriguing watch, brought to life by a cool femme fatale performance by Lizabeth Scott. In all truth, however, the film tells a story which has been told better elsewhere, and arguably lacks the palpable atmosphere to make things more exhilarating.
Let’s start on the bright side, though, with the fantastic lead performance from Lizabeth Scott. Revolving around the story of a woman who will stop at nothing to hold onto a stash of money she chanced upon, Scott portrays her character’s intense ruthlessness and selfishness with such captivating energy.
There’s something of Marlene Dietrich in her performance, coupled with a slightly more modern portrayal of the archetypal femme fatale that makes so many film noirs so striking. Scott is steely, scary and yet seductive and appealing – a dangerous combination which we see leads to the downfall of so many others.
And that’s where Too Late For Tears really shines. There are undoubtedly problems with the film as a whole, but the movie is pretty uncompromising with its crime, violence and drama – especially for a film of its day.
The greatest intrigue from the story comes in the form of second-guessing what Scott is going to do next, and whether she can really go as far as she’s threatening just to hang on to the case of cash. In that, Too Late For Tears is a pretty unpredictable watch, and that’s what makes it so engaging at times.
However, part of me feels like this movie doesn’t really fulfil its potential. Firstly on the premise, it’s fair to say that there are big parallels between Too Late For Tears and the early stages of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, where Janet Leigh steals $40,000.
Of course, Psycho came later, but it managed to bring in a palpable sense of paranoia and vulnerability, with the fast pacing of the film’s opening act arguably its most exhilarating feature.
Too Late For Tears, on the other hand, isn’t able to use atmosphere to the same effect, lacking a sense of paranoia throughout, while Lizabeth Scott is almost so ruthless that she seems completely invulnerable, inevitably taking away a degree of dramatic intrigue.
As a result, while I certainly enjoyed Too Late For Tears, there were times when I felt that it was struggling to really make the most of what is an undeniably engaging story. It’s maybe unfair to compare it to a film that came over 10 years later, but the movie does pale in comparison to Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Still, with a fantastic lead performance from Lizabeth Scott, unpredictable twists and turns and a brilliantly ruthless streak, the film proves a sleek, captivating and appealing noir, so that’s why I’m giving Too Late For Tears a 7.2 overall.