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 Sher... more »man, 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. DVD Features:Audio Commentary:Commentary by Director Vincent ShermanFeaturette:New Featurette The Crawford Formula: An Interview with Director Vincent Sherman« less
Harvey M. Canter | tarzana, ca United States | 05/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is one of my favorite Crawford vehicles, and I am thrilled to see it coming out on DVD, as it was never (to my knowledge) even available on VHS. While distinctly NOT a film noir, the Damned Don't Cry is a bit of a rehash of the Mildred Pierce formula--ordinary but acquisitive gal works/sleeps her way up the ladder, makes good, then hooks up with the wrong men, and suffers a wretched demise. Crawford's Ethel is willing to unleash her sexual prowess outside the bonds of matrimony, and this leads to the undoing of all concerned. She becomes high-class bait, caught between David Brian's semi-legit megalomaniac and pretty-boy Steve Cochran's Bugsy-esque mobster. In the end, she's on the hook herself, and winds up back in the dust-bowl oil town shack she started from--her mink coat the only useless trophy remaining. This is a Feminist Critics' Fun-Fest from start to finish, but good solid 40's cinema nonetheless. This film has been below the radar for a long time, and it is great to see it coming out, along with Possessed, another excellent outing for Crawford. David Brian is an excellent actor (sort of in the Robert Ryan mode--the handsome, tough, aggressive bad boy) whom I have seen in too-few films--he's always in top form. Steve Cochran is also an outstanding player who should have had some real vehicles of his own. I agree with another reviewer who, in commenting on the box set which contains Damned Don't Cry, noted that studios keep putting out 5-6 film box sets with 2 or 3 that have already been released, rather than some other new titles. In Crawford's case, there are many films still not out on DVD--Harriet Craig, Flamingo Road, and A Woman's Face among them. This seems to be the "new trick" in DVD marketing, alas. I guess a couple of high profile releases stuck in the box set clears out that inventory and makes for a nice come-on, think the studio magnates. Well, dumb boys, fans already have DVD's like Mildred Pierce, and are hungry for NEW product. So fire the slick, stupid marketing firms who are steering you wrong, and put out the stuff we all want to see!!! Anyway, Crawfordphiles will relish this release."
Glamorous Film Noir Fun
Forrest C. Hopson | Burnsville, NC USA | 01/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Damned Don't Cry" is the kind of movie that Joan Crawford excelled. The formula consisting of either "shop girl" seeking the good life or "unappreciated wife and mother" seeking the good life, which is the case here, are played to perfection by the ultimate movie star. Joan leaves her hard working, yet seemingly uncaring husband, after the death of their young son and goes out seeking the "good things in life." This is a "from rags to riches" story that mirrors the film noir classics, but is a step above due to the acting talents of Joan and her male co-stars. David Brian is excellent as the sophisticated mob boss who seduces Joan into his world of luxuries and crime. Kent Smith plays a smart accountant which gets pulled into the world of the mob by his ambitious "true love" played by Joan. And then there's the tough and handsome playboy, Steve Cochran, (who also claims to be Joan's true love) which plays the rival mobster to David Brian's mob boss. I highly recommend this movie to both film noir fans, as well as to all Joan Crawford fans. The dvd features the original movie trailer, as well as a nice "making of" featurette, "The Crawford Formula: Real and Reel". The dvd has a clean transfer, however the film itself has a few minor blurs and glitches but nothing that would detract the viewer's enjoyment of the movie, but this is on the film itself and has nothing to do with the dvd's transfer. "The Damned Don't Cry" ranks right up there with Joan's other classics, such as: "Harriet Craig," "Flamingo Road," and one of my personal favorites, "Female On The Beach." All of which are sadly missing and desperately needed on dvd. If you're considering purchasing the Joan Crawford Collection box set, I highly recommend all the films in this collection. As one of the reviewers here mentioned, there are only three titles here that were not previously on dvd, "The Damned Don't Cry," "Humoresque," and "Possessed (1947)." And two titles that were already available on dvd, "Mildred Pierce," and "The Women." I would love to see all of Joan's movies available on dvd, for after all she was, and will always be, "the ultimate star.""
Joan Crawford Commands The Screen In Fascinating Gangster Me
Simon Davis | 08/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By 1950 Joan Crawford was coming towards the end of her reign as one of the leading female stars at Warner Brother's Studios through most of the 1940's. However before she finally left the studio in 1952 to seek new challenges and better roles than she had been getting of late she had one last powerhouse performance to give in the bleak but riverting melodrama "The Damned Don't Cry". The Crawford on display in this story is the mature actress fully in command of her craft who by her sheer star power and gritty performing literally wipes every one else off the screen in this tawdry tale of underworld thugs and the women they use along the way. In many ways the screenplay is your typical rags to riches story so familiar to Crawford enthusiasts however Joan Crawford under the solid direction of veteran Vincent Sherman in the first of their three collaborations together really works magic with the stock character and makes the at times unbelievable "The Damned Don't Cry", a taut and totally fun outing. Full of double dealings, shoot outs, deception and a central female character who ruthlessly takes on the boys in a man's world, it makes a fitting conclusion to Joan Crawford's amazing career run at Warner Brothers and definately helped pave the way for the many hard broiled roles that became her trademark in the 1950's.
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"."
With her loveliness she ruled men's hearts.
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After her son dies, a woman (Joan Crawford) leaves her husband and their hardscrabble oil field life to find something better. In New York City she finds that she's able to cash in on her good looks, brains and moxie to get what she always wanted -- which is, apparently, swell clothes and a swank place to live. 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. "
Powerhouse Portrayal of Transformation & Determination.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 08/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Damned Don't Cry" opens with the body of a murdered gangster found in the desert. Police are surprised to find that many of the dead man's home movies featured a fashionable socialite and oil heiress, Lorna Hansen Forbes. But Forbes has disappeared, leaving a bloodstained carpet in her home. Further investigation reveals that Lorna Hansen Forbes invented herself only 2 years before. Now the lovely, dazed Lorna returns to her childhood home, where her family lives in poverty next to a sea of oil derricks. Her memory returns to several years before, when Lorna was Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford), a poor housewife who left her family to start a new life in New York City. She became a model for a clothing distributor and made extra money by entertaining out-of-town buyers and steering them to an illegal casino. She developed a relationship with Marty Blackford (Kent Smith), her employer's hardworking accountant. And she charmed George Castleman (David Brian), an aristocratic crime boss who hired Marty to put his operation's finances in order. But Castleman's chief of his West Coast operations, Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran), had extravagant ways and other ideas.
The role of Ethel Whitehead/Lorna Hansen Forbes was originally written for a young woman and was adapted for Joan Crawford, who was in her 40s at the time. The story was inspired by the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegal, who envisioned Las Vegas, and his mistress Virginia Hill. When I think about it, it isn't plausible that a clothing distributor's best model is middle-aged, or that she would be chosen to ply money from clients, or that a woman in her 40s could invent herself out of thin air as being a widow of prominent family. She's no debutante. But this is Joan Crawford, whose star power is like a force of nature. While I was watching the movie, I never doubted her transformation from put-upon housewife to scrappy social climber to refined "darling of café society". I can't help but prefer blunt-talking Ethel to aristocratic Lorna, but Crawford is thoroughly convincing in both roles.
The title "Queen of Noir" may rightfully belong to Barbara Stanwyck, but Joan Crawford must be the Queen of that female melodrama subgroup of film noir. Crawford gave powerhouse performances in "Mildred Pierce" and especially "Possessed", and "The Damned Don't Cry" continues the tradition. Ethel Whitehead is a character disillusioned with doing the right thing and painfully aware that the time she has left to get what she wants out of life is very limited. So she abandons herself to the ways of the world, thinks practically instead of morally, to get what she wants as fast as she can. "Don't talk to me about self-respect! That's something you tell yourself you've got when you've got nothing else," she says. True as that may be, the noir world tends to get the best of people no matter what their approach to life. "The Damned Don't Cry" is a good story all around, with interesting supporting characters, but the electrifying determination that Joan Crawford gives Ethel Whitehead steals the show.
The DVD (Warner Brothers 2005): Bonus features include a theatrical trailer, one featurette, and an audio commentary. "The Crawford Formula: Real and Reel" (13 minutes) features interviews with film historians and theorists Glenn Erikson, Dr. Drew Casper, and James Ursini, among others, as well as director Vincent Sherman. They talk about the film's style, its brisk dialogue, and Ethel Whitehead's similarities to Joan Crawford's life and her persona. The audio commentary by director Vincent Sherman is sporadic and discusses the story and how he presented it. Subtitles are available for the film in English, French, and Spanish. Dubbing is available in French."