Noir Comic Moments #4: The philosopher hood

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)

Not even Jimmy Cagney can save Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) from a deserved obscurity. In this over-rated picture Cagney is a vicious hood getting established in a new town after a violent prison break. The absurd plot moves at a glacial pace, and would almost work as a parody if it wasn’t for the brutal and wanton violence. Cagney looks tired and bored, as you would expect from a 51yo playing a 37yo, while Barbara Payton is ok as the girl he deceives. There are cops as stupid as they are bent, a gay shyster lawyer with a black body-builder houseboy, and a dizzy rich dame who falls for Cagney, while he is shacked-up with Payton, the sister of a young prisoner killed during the breakout. One of the more absurd scenes is the rich girl’s daddy bursting into the bedroom of the newly-married couple sound asleep in separate beds, with Cagney in silk pyjamas and as meek as a lamb.

A labored late gangster movie wrongly seen as a noir by some perhaps from its use of flashback.

There is a weird interlude where Cagney and an accomplice visit a ‘reformed’ hood to get wise on where he can find a ’good lawyer’. The former hood is now ‘respectable’ and moonlights as a lecturer on “the key to cosmic consciousness” – no kidding. After shaking down the barker for the name he wants, Cagney picks-up the rich girl who is a loyal follower, by begging a lift in her hot-rod. You can’t help but laugh out loud during the ensuing scene:

3 thoughts on “Noir Comic Moments #4: The philosopher hood”

  1. Noir and humor are rather an uneasy mix, though Chandler had a number of moments. Of course Cagney always provided comic levity, and in WHITE HEAT his black hmor was part of that film’s allure.

    This is a great clip of illustration, and I must say I do agree that this particular Cagney film is overrated.


  2. Overrated? Funny, I had always felt this picture was under-recognized, if at all. Legend has it that Cagney wanted to play a hood with absolutely no redeeming qualities (vicious as he was, Cody Jarrett loved his Mommy), which he does here in this William Cagney production. Barbara Payton’s work is good enough that it always forces me to dwell on the waste of her life. And it always amuses me to see the two honest cops from 1941’s “Maltese Falcon” (Ward Bond and Barton MacLane) as the two dirty cops in this one.


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