Newest Reviews
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
  Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye He corrupts everything he touches
Year: 1950
Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: James Cagney, Barbara Payton, Helena Carter, Ward Bond, Luther Adler, Barton MacLane, Steve Brodie, Rhys Williams, Herbert Heyes, John Litel, William Frawley, Neville Brand
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Seven people stand trial for murder and other offences, denounced by the District Attorney as “evil” and “at war with all normal, decent people.” Yet the most reprehensible one of the group was the murder victim, Ralph Cotter (James Cagney), whose story we learn in flashback as each defendant takes the stand. Busted out of jail by Holiday Caldwell (Barbara Payton) and Joe “Jinx” Raynor (Steve Brodie), Cotter is so ruthless he shoots his fellow escapee (Neville Brand, later the scythe-wielding loon in Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1976)) for slowing him down. He swiftly makes a move on Holiday who, clueless as to how her brother really died, latches onto Cotter out of poverty-driven desperation.

Cotter stages a series of violent heists and when corrupt cops Inspector Walker (Ward Bond) and Lieutenant Reece (Barton MacLane) try to shake him down for a piece of the action, he turns the tables and blackmails them into becoming accomplices, aided by shifty lawyer “Cherokee” Mandon (Luther Adler). Complications arise when the ambitious Cotter starts romancing Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter), daughter of powerful tycoon Ezra Dobson (Herbert Heyes), on the side and learns the hard way that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

A film so relentlessly vicious and cynical for its time, it was banned in a handful of US states as “a sordid, sadistic presentation of brutality.” Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye was seen by some as Warner Bros.’ and star James Cagney’s attempt to top his explosive performance in the incredible White Heat (1949). As Cody Jarrett, Cagney essayed arguably the most psychotically unhinged gangster in screen history, a classic movie monster able to chew up the characters played by Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in Scarface (1983) and Goodfellas (1990) like meek, little mice. Ralph Cotter kicks a cripple, towel-slaps Holiday till she’s a sobbing wreck, guns down anyone who gets in his way and goes bonkers whenever someone suggests he is crazy, yet is nonetheless a more conniving brute than Jarrett, capable of intelligence and wit. More than a career criminal, he is also a social climber who latches onto the fabulously wealthy Dobson clan to cloak himself in semi-respectability and influence.

What the film lacks is a certain cinematic charge to match the fireworks inherent in James Cagney’s performance. Anonymous hand Gordon Douglas does not pack the wallop past collaborators Raoul Walsh and William Wellman brought to their Cagney classics. The finale in particular, though it metes out a fitting end for Cotter, fizzles out amidst the courtroom when it should pierce our souls. And though Barbara Payton yokes sympathy for poor Holiday (a law-abiding woman until Cotter worms his way into her life), the script has little patience and essentially concludes that if you dance with the devil, you’ll get burned. A symptom of the heavy-handed moralizing of the era, as is the D.A.’s self-righteous speech.

In many ways this was the last of the old-style, fast-moving, headline-grabbing Warner Bros. crime thrillers a la The Public Enemy (1931), before the genre splintered into socially conscious crime movies, crime-themed art-house pics and a wave of gangster biopics. It’s cynical depiction of corruption rampant among cops, lawyers and other authority figures suits our jaded modern sensibilities, although it lacks the humanity of Cagney classics like The Roaring Twenties (1939). Less a man, more a force of nature, Cotter is a tornado that sucks people up and spits them out. Although Cagney delivers the star turn, the film is well-cast including Ward Bond as the dirty cop and Luther Adler as the vaguely self-loathing lawyer. Lookout for The Thing from Another World (1951) star Kenneth Tobey as one of the crime-busting cops. Especially interesting are the contrasted women in Cotter’s life: Helena Carter as the thrill-seeking rich girl drawn to fast cars and dangerous men and Payton as the good girl corrupted into a gangster’s moll against her better judgment.

“You’re trying to get me deeper and deeper, aren’t you?” she remarks, sadly to Cotter.
“Sweetheart, right now you’re in over your head”, he sneers in reply.

Not to be confused with the other Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (2000), an unrelated crime thriller directed by and starring Jason Priestley.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2997 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: