Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (film)

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Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.Theatrical poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGordon Douglas
Produced byWilliam Cagney
Screenplay byHarry Brown
Based onthe novel Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
by Horace McCoy
StarringJames Cagney
Barbara Payton
Helena Carter
Music byCarmen Dragon
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byWalter Hannemann
Truman K. Wood
William Cagney Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • August 4, 1950 (1950-08-04) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.7 million[1]

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a 1950 film noir starring James Cagney, directed by Gordon Douglas, produced by William Cagney and based on the novel by Horace McCoy. The film was banned in Ohio as "a sordid, sadistic presentation of brutality and an extreme presentation of crime with explicit steps in commission."[2]

Supporting Cagney are Luther Adler as a crooked lawyer, and Ward Bond and Barton MacLane as two crooked cops.


Ralph Cotter is a career criminal who escapes from prison and then murders his partner-in-crime. Along the way, he attempts to woo his ex-partner's sister (Barbara Payton) by threatening to expose her role in his escape. Cotter quickly gets back into the crime business—only to be shaken down by corrupt local cops. Then when he turns the tables on them, his real troubles have only started.


Restoration / re-release[edit]

A restored version of the film was released in 2011. The film was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in coöperation with Paramount Pictures, funded by the Packard Humanities Institute.[3]

The new print was made "from the original 35mm nitrate picture and track negatives and a 35mm safety print."[3]

The restoration premiered at the UCLA Festival of Preservation on March 14, 2011.[3]


Critical response[edit]

The film, often compared unfavorably to White Heat, received mixed reviews. Fred Camper, film critic for The Chicago Reader, called the film misdirected, writing, "Gordon Douglas's direction is almost incoherent compared to Raoul Walsh's in White Heat (1949), which features Cagney in a similar role; the compositions and camera movements, while momentarily effective, have little relationship to each other, and the film reads a bit like an orchestra playing without a conductor."[4]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz generally liked the film and wrote, "This is an energetic straightforward crime drama based on the book by Horace McCoy (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) and the screen play, which hardly makes sense and is the root of the film's problems, is by Harry Brown. Gordon M. Douglas (Come Fill the Cup/Only the Valiant) helms it by keeping it fast-paced, brutal and cynical, and lets star James Cagney pick up where he left off in the year earlier White Heat as an unsympathetic mad dog killer. This was an even tougher film, but the crowds did not respond to it as favorably as they did to White Heat (which seems odd, since it is basically the same type of B-movie)."[5]

While not regarded as favorably as White Heat, its lower budget and maze-like plot-lines involving crooked cops, two opposing women, economically-shot scenes going to and from small interior locations, and an array of twists and turns make it something the more action-packed and mainstream White Heat wasn't: a film noir.

The outside marquee in the cult-famous movie theater scene in the horror (zombie) movie Messiah of Evil bears this movie's title (although within the theater, a trailer is playing).

This was the second James Cagney picture featuring William Frawley (Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy), the first being Something to Sing About (1937).


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1950". Variety. January 3, 1951. p. 58.
  2. ^ Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. ^ a b c Todd Wiener. "UCLA Film & Television Archive: Cry Danger (1951) Kiss tomorrow Goodbye (1950)". Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  4. ^ Camper, Fred. Chicago Reader, film review. Last accessed: february 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 23, 2007. Last accessed: February 11, 2010.

External links[edit]