Usually, our The Gangsters All Here movies start out with the main characters already established as gangsters. But this week’s movie, Too Late for Tears, takes a different approach. What if a set of a particular set of circumstances was dropped in an Everyman’s lap to make him turn into a gangster?
Actually, in this case, it’s not an Everyman, but an Everywoman — social-climbing housewife Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott). And it’s not one circumstance, but sixty thousand of them. One night, Jane and her milquetoast husband Alan (Arthur Kennedy) are driving along a dark highway in their convertible, when a passing car happens to drop a satchel in their back seat. Upon further examination, the Palmers discover that the satchel contains $60,000 ($584,000 in 2015 dollars, if you’re counting).
Alan is all set to surrender the money to the police. But then Jane opens the satchel and spreads the money out on their bed — just so that she can get a look at it — and suddenly…
Not even some very assertive outside forces — in the forms of Dan Duryea and Don DeFore — can deter Jane in her lust for lucre. Besides being a riveting film-noir, the movie poses an interesting question: Just how many (or few) steps would it take us to let the gangster within us run wild?
No doubt about it — on a scale of 1 to 5 fannies, this movie gets a 5. A tightly woven screenplay by Roy Huggins (who went on to create a little TV series named “The Fugitive”) is mounted on the able shoulders of Lizabeth Scott, who runs with it to the finish.