Joan Crawford plays an impoverished woman who leaves her husband after a tragedy claims the life of their young son. Determined never to be poor again, she sleeps her way through a string of men to reach a higher social standing. But once she ingratiates herself with gangsters, she gets in over her head.
The Damned Don’t Cry delivers the typical Joan Crawford character — scrappy, manipulative, and not altogether on the up and up. She plays the shit out this kind of role. I enjoyed the early scenes with her son and husband, and her first extra-marital relationship with a kind accountant (Kent Smith). I found her character pretty likable — or at least relatable — up until that point, so much so that it was a bit jarring when she starts whoring around and using people. When that happens, there’s no one to root for in this movie anymore.
I enjoyed the movie as long as I had some empathy for Crawford and Smith, but the movie descends exponentially into film noir territory as it goes. Film noir purists may enjoy the second half of the movie more than I did, although I did enjoy a brutal beating Joan endures at the hand of the top gangster — if only because it’s so rare to see Crawford on the losing side of such encounters.
With David Brian and Steve Cochran.