- The Damned Don’t Cry (1950) movie review: Reportedly inspired by the relationship between gangster Bugsy Siegel, who had been murdered three years earlier, and Chicago Mafia courier Virginia Hill, Vincent Sherman’s skillful mix of crime melodrama and social commentary is Joan Crawford’s second best WB star vehicle.
The Damned Don’t Cry movie review: Crime melodrama is the most effective post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford star vehicle at Warners
Directed by Vincent Sherman, the torrid 1950 potboiler The Damned Don’t Cry is my favorite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford star vehicle at Warner Bros.
In the early part of the movie we see a flashback to the humble beginnings of Ethel Whitehead (Joan Crawford), 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.
Self-respect is for sissies
On her way up, Ethel seethes at milquetoast accountant Martin Blackford (Kent Smith) because he lacks her compelling drive and ambition.
“Don’t talk to me about self-respect,” she 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!”
For Ethel – by then renamed Lorna Hansen Forbes – the last rung on the ladder is handsome, smoldering Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran). But like every other man this determined woman meets, Nick leads only to her doom.
Today, Vincent Sherman (Old Acquaintance, Mr. Skeffington) may be a largely forgotten name, but his handling of this 1950 crime drama was remarkably effective.
The Damned Don’t Cry (1950)
Director: Vincent Sherman.
Screenplay: Harold Medford & Jerome Weidman.
From Gertrude Walker’s story “Case History.”
Cast: Joan Crawford. David Brian. Steve Cochran. Kent Smith. Hugh Sanders. Selena Royle. Jacqueline deWit. Morris Ankrum. Edith Evanson. Richard Egan.
“The Damned Don’t Cry: Crawford’s Second Best Warners Movie” review text © Danny Fortune; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes/endnotes © Alt Film Guide.
“The Damned Don’t Cry Movie (1950) Review” endnotes
Joan Crawford The Damned Don’t Cry movie image: Warner Bros.
“The Damned Don’t Cry: Crawford’s Second Best Warners Movie” last updated in October 2021.