I'll Cry Tomorrow


D: Daniel Mann (1955); with Susan Hayward, Richard Conte, Eddie Albert, Jo Van Fleet, Don Taylor, Ray Danton. The magnificent Hayward again demonstrates her prowess in portraying alcoholics, this time in the true-life story of chanteuse and general party-girl, Lillian Roth. We begin with Lillian as a little girl, being trotted to all kinds of auditions by her scheming and manipulative stage mother, played by Van Fleet. One thing becomes another and soon Lillian is a star (with a repertoire that includes a much-too-serious rendition of "The Red, Red Robin"), and Mother is pleased to be accumulating the trappings of luxury that she so richly deserves. But when love enters the picture, Lillian is smitten and all of Mother's plans threaten to derail. When Lillian's young lover dies of an unnamed illness, she is devastated and has no interest in performing. But all-powerful Mother wields her strength, telling Lillian to snap out of it. It is a painful decision for Lillian, but she throws her mother out. As Mother slinks off to the sidelines, Lillian, like her counterpart in Smash-Up, soon takes a wee little drinkee to ease the pain. But as all alcoholics know, one drink is too many and a thousand is not enough, and soon Lillian is on the road to ruin. She gets tossed out of all the classiest places, and wakes up in bed with a strange man -- even though they're both fully dressed and in twin beds. She falls under the spell of a Svengali, compellingly played by Conte, who convinces her that it's okay to drink but just know when to stop. Of course, if that were possible for alcoholics, no one would need AA. She runs away and attempts suicide. But Hayward, being Hayward, survives it all. The video box informs us that the popularity of this movie at the time rekindled Miss Roth's career, but to a degree that Miss Roth began imitating Miss Hayward's version of Miss Roth. Life imitating art imitating life.

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