Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Killer Bait
USA 1949
Directed by
Byron Haskin
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Too Late For Tears

Scripted by prolific pulp specialist Roy Huggins based on his own Saturday Evening Post serial Too Late For Tears, which was re-released in 1955 with the salacious title Killer Bait, is an convoluted and thereby overlong B-grade crime movie that is engaging in its overall plan but shaky in the details with plot holes and contrivances aplenty but one argument-ending trump card - Lizabeth Scott.

One night on a lonely country road in the Hollywood Hills someone in a speeding car tosses a bagful of money into the back seat of an open coupe belonging to Jane and Alan Palmer (Scott and Arthur Kennedy). Alan wants to hand it into the police but Jane persuades him to keep it.  They decide to stash it for a while but, of course, in the best noir tradition they are already in the grip of evil and fate is going to demand its due. Snake-like Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea), for whom the money was intended, thinks that he is that hand, but he’s really got no idea what he’s dealing with when he puts the squeeze on Mrs Palmer.

Jane who despite her irresistible allure is deeply disturbed, even insane, certainly puts the fatal into femme fatale. Once she comes into the means of realizing her fantasies of wealth that her husband cannot come close to satisfying nothing can stop her. Even the self-styled tough guy Danny (Duryea playing his stock character) is overwhelmed by her determination. Scott not only has the physical assents to make her siren-like powers easily comprehensible but she captures convincingly the mix of clinging insecurity and ruthless guile that drives Jane and the plot forward.

Whilst with the exceptions of Scott and Duryea the performances are underwhelming the script is the problem. Aside from its complexity there are niggling credibility issues.  From the issue of why Jane, who knows she can do a lot better, is with the dorky Alan in the first place to the run-of-the-mill ending and, in between, the convenient circulation of a baggage room ticket, the plot asks a lot of us. Still, in the best thriller tradition director Haskin keeps the pedal to the metal and with Scott in fine form in the lead no-one with a pulse Is really going to care about details.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst