Sinister Cinema: Too Late for Tears

Too-Late-for-Tears_x304bAnother year of Noir City — without the usual bleak noir rain — opens in the Castro Theatre tonight, with a specially restored 35mm print of the Roy Huggins film Too Late for Tears.

Dennis McMillan and I were thinking about sitting in on that one, but various complications ensued. We’ll have to catch it later on, somewhere. . . .

Dennis ranks Tears (at least at this moment in time) as one of the top ten noirs, and wanted to catch it — in large part because his old friend, pulp and screenwriter Howard Browne, was “instrumental in the book’s genesis, when he received the unfinished manuscript for the book from Huggins, who told him he had no idea how to wrap up the complicated plot.”

Browne wrote Huggins a five-page letter detailing point-by-point how he “should rewrite the novel to make it saleable, which Huggins did.”

Browne received the rewritten and completed manuscript from Huggins a month or so later. He told Dennis the ending was “still lost in a welter of words.”

So Browne rewrote the last two chapters himself, sent the manuscript back to Huggins, who then polished them up in his own language — and the book appeared in 1947. The movie followed in 1949.

Huggins returned Browne’s favor in 1953 by inviting him to “forget his job as editor of the Ziff-Davis pulp line and come out to Hollywood and make some real money.” Browne ended up writing for Cheyenne, Combat, Mission: Impossible and other Huggins productions — finishing his Hollywood career as a “script doctor” on The Rockford Files.

(You’ll find Dennis blurbing the Browne/Huggins relationship on p156 of his interview in the noir issue of Contrappasso.)

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