Ralph Cotter doesn't care about anything. Except his next "kill." After escaping from prison, the cold-blooded mobster satisfies a pent-up lust for violence in a n unstoppable crime-spree with Barbara, his love-struck gu... more »n moll. But when Cotter heartlessly murders her brother and dumps her for a classy debutante, Barbara plots a vicious end to the gangster's cruel campaign. It's JAMES CAGNEY at his bad-guy best in this tense saga on underworld revenge! KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE, one in a great series of classic crime films that have influenced generations of American filmmakers and viewers.« less
"When socialite Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter)attempts to scare gangster Ralph Cotter ( James Cagney) with a high speed joy ride in her expensive convertible, Cagney's darting eyes and slight smile alerts viewers that this high society mistress has made a grave mistake. No celluloid dame ever put fear into the heart of a James Cagney character, and Cagney as escaped convict Ralph Cotter in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye doesn't disappoint his male legion of fans. With the speedometer needle already bouncing at the 90 mph. mark, Cotter calmly places his shoe on top of Miss Dobson's foot and mashes the accelerator pedal down even further. In one of the most revealing female/male test of wills ever captured on screen, the two characters battle a mind game that Cotter eventually wins. Just when we thought we have seen every James Cagney gangster persona , scenes such as the convertible ride command our attention once again. Cagney is ruthless in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in which he portrays an escaped convict who courts two girlfriends, blackmails two police detectives, robs a supermarket payroll, murders three mob bagmen and pilfers the daily gambling bankroll. Although Cagney wasn't always amused at how studios continually pushed gangster scripts his way, he seems to have had fun in the role of Cotter. Especially when his other girlfriend Holiday (Barbara Payton)throws everything but the kitchen sink at him during an on screen spat. The film does contain flaws which challenge the believability of viewers, such as Cotter's miraculous escape from a chain gang, the use a dictaphone to frame a police inspector, and Cotter not being reckognized as an escaped convict. These shortcomings aside, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is watchable because of Cagney's commanding performance. Cagney leads the holdup of Hartford's Supermarket with coolness, his beating and disposal of a garage mechanic is violent, and his towel smacking of girfriend Holiday and her reaction are memorable. The film also boasts fine performances from Luther Adler, who plays shrewd and influential lawyer Cherokee Mandon. Ward Bond who portrays the corrupt police inspector, Weber. Barton Maclane who later gained TV fame as General Peterson on I Dream of Jeannie, also gives a fine supporting role as Weber's sidekick. Overall the film does make a statement about crime and corruption that slowly creeped back into America's consciousness after WWII. With graft, corruption, bribes, and scandals shocking the nation, filmmakers once again drew fine lines between crimminal characters and the characters that represented law and order. For fans of crime, noir, gangster, or just James Cagney, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a great way to spend an hour and fifty minutes."
A misogynistic predator
Thug's Ma | Indiana | 12/07/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Cagney is ruthless as Ralph Cotter, a murderous crazed hood who blackmails cops and everyone else in his path after a break from chain gang.Made after "White Heat," and while preparing dancing scenes for his next film "West Point Story," Cagney abhorred doing another gangster flick, but you can't tell it here. He throws himself into the role, and does the best with what he has.Cagney is the whole show, and his evil is more pronounced than ever. Not only is he a murderous thug, but a sexual predator, seducing and coercing women to doing his bidding along the way.Cagney -- a gentleman in real life -- played a lot of misogynistic characters, and he is no less in this -- savagely beating a moll with a rolled up, wet towel, then seducing her as she falls weeping and hysterical into his arms. One could say, if you reviewed his gangster flicks as a whole, that Cagney hadn't made a whole lot of cinematic progress from grapefruit squashing and dragging chicks across the floor by the hair (as he did with Mae Clarke in previous films). Seen without that hindsight, he is brutal and effective.While he played other bad guys in subsequent films, this is the last true gangster that he played, and he was relieved to call it quits. It was poorly reviewed at the time -- a well made bomb -- but it's worth viewing for Cagney's savagery. You need to suspend belief just a little bit in certain scenes -- not a whole lot of visible planning goes into big stakes heists, so his gangster comes off more ruthless than smart."
Original Tough Guy
Dr. Freeman | Perry, Iowa United States | 02/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cagney along with a fine cast of co-stars portrays a mentally disturbed, escaped convict with high aspirations. Betrayal, greed and unrestrained ambition are the key ingredients to this underated film noir masterpiece. The DVD plays clean and clear with good sound quality."
Cagney at his VERY best (and his MOST evil.)
J. Friedman | Tustin, California | 05/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie in some ways is more defintive of the Cagney gangstger personna than even "The Public Enemy." I think it comes in second only to "Angels with Dirty Faces." What is initially surprising is that this movie is "A Cagney Production." Knowing how hard Cagney fought Warner Brothers to get roles other than gangsters, it's a testament to the man's complexity that, when the production company he shared with his brother, Bill, had a chance to make absolutely any type of movie he wanted, what did he choose? He plays the most mean-spirited gangster of his entire career! Most of his gangsters had their soft sides. In "Angels" and in "The Roaring 20's," Bogey was the real bad guy. Cagney was a hoodlum, but he was a complex character with some redeeming values. Even in "The Public Enemy," he was at least good to his Mom. But Ralph Cotter is rotten to the very core without a single redeeming quality. He gratuitously murders his crime partner; he cheats on his girlfriend (who doesn't know that he murdered her own brother), and he viciously beats both the owner of a store that he robs and a police informant. And he seems to be flat out enjoying every minute of it. He's got a leer that won't quit. And there are some VERY memorable lines sprinkled throughout this film. But, in order to appreciate them, you have to either see, or at least visualize, Cagney uttering them with his trademark half smile/half sneer. Just two (of many) examples: (1) After Barbara Payton helps him escape from a prison road gang and kills a guard in the process, she is distraught and cries, "I've been a good girl all my life. I've never done anything wrong before today." Cagney sneers: "It only takes once, you know." (2) After Payton has told Cagney that he's too much of a "small timer" to outwit two crooked cops and after he does in fact outwit them, he turns to her and sneers: "By this time tomorrow, the word 'small timer' will have gotten up and walked right out of your vocabulary. . . . If we're still alive." He also makes an intriguing comment when Luther Adler asks him his real name. Cagney smiles and utters the cryptic line: "If you knew, you would die." I think this is meant to imply that Cotter is the reincarnation of Arthur Cody Jarrett from "Whie Heat," about whom Virginia Mayo said: You can't kill Cody. He's not human." Cagney personally selected Barbara Payton for the role of Holiday because of her off screen reputation for having the foulest mouth in Hollywood. (She wound up hooking out of a cheap Hollywood motel and died from a drug overdose). And, to top it off, the same two cops from "The Maltese Falcon" are together again, except this time Ward Bond is the dominant one and Barton Maclane is the sidekick. Yes, the movie has some downsides. It requires a major suspension of disbelief, and many of the scenes with Helena Carter and her father (Herbert Heyes, the father of frequent "Twilight Zone" director Douglas Heyes)are too long and drawn out. But it's a "must see" if for no other reason than to see the finest performer of the 20th century unplugged unrestrained, and completely unhinged. An absolute joy for any Cagney fan, and his last portrayal of a gangster before he REALLY started looking old (in "Love me or Leave Me" five years later.)
Cagney's Compulsive Villain Sets Everyone On Edge.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 03/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" was adapted from the novel by Horace McCoy and features James Cagney in one of his many memorable "gangster" roles. The film opens with the trial of 7 defendants for murder and accomplice to murder. We learn how this motley group of law enforcement officers, crooks, a lawyer, and one very pretty woman came to be charged with the crimes as the witnesses are called to the stand and recall a bloody tale that started 4 months ago. Ralph Cotter (James Cagney), an especially murderous thief, and a fellow inmate at a penal colony attempted an escape with the aid of the other man's sister, Holiday (Barbara Payton), and a hired driver named Jinx (Steve Brodie). But Holiday's brother is killed in the escape, leaving her angry but vulnerable and lonely enough that she turns to Ralph for consolation. When Ralph and Jinx rob a local grocery store, they are confronted by a pair of corrupt cops, Inspector Charlie Webber (Barton McLean) and Lieutenant Reese (Steve Brodie), who shake them down for a share of the loot. Ralph sees the crooked cops as an opportunity to turn the tables using blackmail. But his dalliance with the aristocratic daughter (Helena Carter) of a powerful steel magnate may bring ruin on everyone.
"Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" revolves around Ralph Cotter's ambitions, compulsions, and total sociopathy. Ralph is disloyal even to his fellow criminals. He will tell a lie or kill any person for the sake of his immediate convenience. Ralph's self-confidence is so overwhelming that he commits himself to any scheme without much thought to the consequences. Ralph's lack of discretion or any kind of hesitation strikes fear in everyone. Even the corrupt cops recognize that his endless heists and bloody trail threaten to destroy them all. Ralph is a single-minded destructive force so intimidating that the people around him seem at a loss to do anything except grit their teeth and wait for their world to come tumbling down. Ralph is by no means a sophisticated character, but he's a memorable one. This one-dimensional characterization may be limiting, but Cagney sets the audience on edge with his portrayal of a man whose actions no one, including himself, can control. Barton McLean, as the thoroughly corrupt Inspector Webber, gives good support to Cagney's performance in expressing Webber's consternation at this out-of-control criminal, whom even more powerful crooks fear. Ralph Cotter is an irredeemable character, and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" is a solid film noir, but not as thematically sophisticated as truly great film noir. It's a must for James Cagney fans, though. The DVD from Republic Pictures, released in 2002 and distributed by Artisan, has no bonus features or subtitles."