I'll Cry Tomorrow, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

“My life was never my own. It was charted before I was born”. This quote from Lillian Roth’s autobiography opens I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and shortly thereafter we are introduced to who we presume to be the architect. A stage-mother who drags her daughter from one audition to another, shoves her under director’s noses and literally pushes her into the ground. And while this dominant force no doubt led to the star’s over-reliance on others, it is the comfort she finds in a bottle that truly determined her destiny. For as a fellow dipsomaniac explains, all alcoholics have a quarrel with fate.

 

In an Oscar-nominated performance, Susan Hayward lets it all hang out as she stumbles from the bar to the stage and back to the bar again. The film is also the only time Hayward sang on screen (her voice in such films as With a Song in My Heart was dubbed), and it is somewhat serendipitous that her teetering rendition of “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe” proves more effective than any of her more overtly dramatic scenes.

 

While I’ll Cry Tomorrow lacks the harrowing, nightmarish quality of The Lost Weekend or Days of Wine and Roses, it does effectively chart one woman’s descent into an alcoholic abyss. More successful are the final scenes depicting Lillian Roth’s association with Alcoholics Anonymous. As she takes her final walk towards an undetermined future, it is not improbable to believe that, like one of her hit songs, she will finally go on to live, love, laugh and be happy.

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Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward

as Lillian Roth

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fact check, factcheck, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

According to Lillian Roth, her mother “spoke with a very cultured Boston accent, nothing like the European affectation put on by Miss Van Fleet”.

Movie depicts Roth being married twice. In reality, Roth had at least six husbands, perhaps as many as eight.

Movie does not cover Roth's time in a psychiatric hospital, nor her later conversion to Catholicism.

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Movie focuses on Roth’s stage career, but does include a scene in which she performs “Sing, You Sinners” for the movie cameras. The setup however is completely different.

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