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Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.Theatrical poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGordon Douglas
Screenplay byHarry Brown
Based onthe novel Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
by Horace McCoy
Produced byWilliam Cagney
StarringJames Cagney
Barbara Payton
Helena Carter
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byWalter Hannemann
Truman K. Wood
Music byCarmen Dragon
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 escape partner Carleton. Along the way, he attempts to woo his ex-partner's sister Holiday by threatening to expose her role in his escape. There are hints of a sado-masochistic bond between the two in a scene where Cotter is provoked to whip Holiday with a wet towel, after which she passionately embraces him. Cotter quickly gets back into the crime game—only to be shaken down by corrupt local cops. Then when he turns the tables on them, his real crime troubles have only started. In a jealous rage Holiday wreaks revenge on Cotter when she learns he is dumping her for a wealthy young heiress.




Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye was based on a bestselling novel by Horace McCoy that was published in 1948.[3][4]

Humphrey Bogart and Robert Lord were interested in securing the film rights before the novel's publication,[5] but in November 1949, the film rights were sold to William Schiffrin, an independent producer.[6] In February 1950, the Cagney brothers bought the film rights.[7] In March 1950, Barbara Payton was cast.[8] Helena Carter joined the cast in April.[9] Filming began on April 14, 1950 at General Service Studios.[10]

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye was the first of four movies that the Cagney brothers made for Warner Bros.[11] James Cagney said that he and his brother entered into a deal in which they gave the banks the first $500,000 that the film made, in order to pay back debts from The Time of Your Lives.[12]

The Cagneys liked Douglas' work and signed him to a multi-picture contract.[13]

This was the second film in which Cagney appeared with William Frawley (Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy), following 1937's Something to Sing About.


In 2011, the film was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with Paramount Pictures, funded by the Packard Humanities Institute.[14] The new print was made "from the original 35mm nitrate picture and track negatives and a 35mm safety print."[14] The restoration premiered at the UCLA Festival of Preservation on March 14, 2011.[14]


Critical response

Though often compared unfavorably to White Heat, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye received mixed reviews. Critic Fred Camper, in The Chicago Reader, criticized the film's directing, 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."[15]

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)."[16]

Filmink said: "Both Payton and Carter are a little too attractive looking for pudgy old Cagney, who was pushing fifty at the time – did he ever play such a stud muffin? It’s the biggest flaw in an otherwise solid gangster story."[17]


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1950". Variety. January 3, 1951. p. 58.
  2. ^ Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. ^ TOP BEST SELLERS: IN LOS ANGELES Los Angeles Times 6 June 1948: B5.
  4. ^ The Best Sellers New York Times 4 July 1948: BR10.
  5. ^ Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune8 Apr 1948: B16.
  6. ^ FILM GROUP STARTS 'FLAGPOLE' AWARD: New York Times 21 Nov 1949: 28.
  7. ^ UNIVERSAL TO FILM 2 NEW PROPERTIES. New York Times 13 Feb 1950: 15.
  8. ^ MOVIELAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times 18 Mar 1950: 11.
  9. ^ HOLDEN GETS ROLE IN 'BORN YESTERDAY' New York Times 15 Apr 1950: 11.
  10. ^ CALHOUN AND NIGH GET LEADS IN FILM: Monogram Signs Them to Star in 'County Fair,' New Movie About Harness Racing By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 14 Apr 1950: 27.
  11. ^ HOLLYWOOD AGENDA: SAD SACK By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times 6 Aug 1950: X3.
  12. ^ Cagney, James (1977). Cagney By Cagney. Pocket Books. p. 147.
  13. ^ FILMLAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times 27 June 1950: A7.
  14. ^ a b c Todd Wiener. "UCLA Film & Television Archive: Cry Danger (1951) Kiss tomorrow Goodbye (1950)". Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  15. ^ Camper, Fred. Chicago Reader, film review. Last accessed: february 11, 2010.
  16. ^ Schwartz, Dennis Archived 2012-03-26 at the Wayback Machine. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 23, 2007. Last accessed: February 11, 2010.
  17. ^ Vagg, Stephen (February 14, 2020). "Helena Carter: An Appreciation". Filmink.

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