Directed by Vincent Sherman (Old Acquaintance, Mr. Skeffington), the torrid 1950 potboiler The Damned Don't Cry is my favorite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford star vehicle at Warner Bros. (Image: Kent Smith, David Brian, Joan Crawford in The Damned Don't Cry)
In the early part of the movie we see a flashback to Ethel Whitehead's (Joan Crawford) humble beginnings, married to a poor factory worker (Richard Egan). The close-up Crawford gets while watching her only child being run over by a car is pure gold. From then on, The Damned Don't Cry is quintessential suffering-in-mink melodrama, running the gamut from motherhood to murder as Ethel claws her way to the top by brains and brawn, always looking for something better.
On her way up, she seethes at milquetoast accountant (Kent Smith) because he lacks her compelling drive and ambition. “Don't talk to me about self respect,” Ethel tells him. “That's something you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else. The only thing that counts is that stuff you take to the bank. That filthy buck that everybody sneers at, but slugs to get. You gotta kick and punch and belt your way up because nobody's going to give you a lift. You gotta do it for yourself because no one will do it for you!"
The last rung on the ladder is handsome, smoldering Steve Cochran. But like every other man Ethel meets, he leads only to her doom.
Today, Vincent Sherman may be a largely forgotten name. But his direction of the 1950 melodrama The Damned Don't Cry was both highly capable and effective.
© Danny Fortune
The Damned Don't Cry (1950). Dir.: Vincent Sherman. Scr.: Harold Medford and Jerome Weidman; from Gertrude Walker's story “Case History.” Cast: Joan Crawford, David Brian, Steve Cochran, Kent Smith, Richard Egan, Hugh Sanders, Selena Royle, Jacqueline deWit, Morris Ankrum, Edith Evanson, Richard Egan.
Kent Smith, David Brian, Joan Crawford in The Damned Don't Cry photo: Warner Bros.