I'll Cry Tomorrow


1h 57m 1955
I'll Cry Tomorrow

Brief Synopsis

True story of singer Lillian Roth's battle against alcoholism.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Biography
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 1955
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 18 Nov 1955; Los Angeles premiere: 23 Dec 1955
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book I'll Cry Tomorrow by Lillian Roth, in collaboration with Mike Connolly and Gerold Frank (New York, 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In the theatrical district of New York City, Katie Roth, a driven stage mother, pushes her little daughter Lillian to "sell herself" to a casting director. Stung by her mother's critical tone, Lillian breaks into tears, prompting Katie to advise her that "she can cry tomorrow" because they have more important things to do today. Katie refuses to let Lillian waste her time playing with the neighborhood children, even though one of the children, David Tredman, has developed a close bond with Lillian. After Katie whisks Lillian away to Chicago to play the vaudeville circuit, Lillian begins an ascent that culminates in her being billed as "Broadway's youngest star." As the years pass, Lillian progresses from stage to screen star. When David, now an entertainment company lawyer, comes to Los Angeles on business, he tries to contact Lillian, but her mother fails to deliver his messages. After one message finally gets through to Lillian, she finds David in the hospital suffering from an undisclosed illness, and once he is released, the two begin to date. One month later, David has completed his business and returns to New York, promising to stay in contact with Lillian. David then arranges a tour for Lillian beginning at the Palace theater in New York. Upon arriving in New York, Katie summons David to the apartment she shares with Lillian ostensibly to thank him for arranging the tour. When Katie implies that David is interfering with Lillian's appetite for fame and success, Lillian unexpectedly arrives at the apartment. David then asks Lillian what she wants, and she unequivocally replies that she wants to marry him and be a wife and mother. Soon after, David falls ill, and on the opening night of Lillian's show, he phones from the hospital to wish her luck. While Lillian is onstage, word comes that David has died. After finishing her number, Lillian rushes to the hospital and breaks down, sobbing on David's empty bed. Although grief-stricken, Lillian insists on continuing the tour in honor of David and is accompanied by her mother and Ellen, a nurse. When Katie invites one of Lillian's admirers, a soldier named Wallie, to join them for dinner, Lillian rebels and lashes out at Katie for trying to control her life. To calm Lillian, Ellen gives her a drink. Lillian discovers that alcohol gives her a sense of confidence and security, and she begins to take refuge in the bottle. One night, Wallie, who is on leave from the military, comes backstage to see Lillian. The two spend the night reveling in whiskey, awakening from a drunken stupor the next morning in a hotel room. Lillian is shocked when Wallie informs her that they were married the previous evening and are now husband and wife. Over the next year, Lillian and Wallie indulge in nightly drinking bouts, ending in bitter recriminations when Wallie announces he is "sick of being Mr. Lillian Roth." Two years after her divorce, Lillian meets Tony Bardeman at a party. Lillian is intrigued by Tony's assertion that he can stop drinking at will. Claiming that he has no tolerance for drunkenness, Tony proves his point by brutally beating an obnoxious drunk who is causing a row at the party. Inspired by Tony's will power, Lillian vows to foreswear alcohol and invites Tony to lunch the next day, but when he fails to appear, she goes to a bar and gets drunk. One day, Tony reappears and Lillian begs him to help her stop drinking. Preying on Lillian's vulnerability, the manipulative Tony promises they will stay sober together, then deceives her into lending him $5,000 to close a business deal in Chicago. The two are married, and when Tony's deal falls through, Lillian blames herself for getting drunk. On a train to Los Angeles, Tony torments Lillian by drinking in front of her, causing her to break down and take a shot. Upon reaching California, Lillian's abuse of alcohol escalates. Fearful that the often abusive Tony will kill her, Lillian sneaks out of their hotel room one night and drunkenly wanders the streets, eventually pawning her mink coat to buy a drink. After descending to the depths of Skid Row, Lillian goes home to New York to live in a tiny apartment with her mother. Following an acrimonious argument with Katie one day, Lillian rents a room on the upper floor of a hotel and contemplates suicide. As she climbs onto the window's ledge, however, Lillian finds herself unable to jump and falls back onto the floor. While walking the streets afterward, Lillian is drawn to an Alcoholics Anonymous shelter where she is consoled by Burt McGuire, who becomes her sponsor. Suffering from delirium tremens, Lillian is cared for by Burt and the other recovering alcoholic counselors, who shepherd her through the painful process of withdrawing from alcohol. Once sober, Lillian sings while Burt accompanies her on the piano. Although Lillian is falling in love with him, Burt, who has been crippled since a bout with childhood polio, feels inadequate and rebuffs her feelings. When Lillian sings at an AA talent night, her performance garners the attention of the press and she soon receives an offer to appear on the This Is Your Life television program. After Lillian seeks Burt's advice about whether to accept the offer, he insists that she must make her own decision, then finally admits that he is afraid to love her. Replying that they were meant to be together, Lillian appears on the show to give other alcoholics hope.

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Movie Clip

Trailer

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Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Biography
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 1955
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 18 Nov 1955; Los Angeles premiere: 23 Dec 1955
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book I'll Cry Tomorrow by Lillian Roth, in collaboration with Mike Connolly and Gerold Frank (New York, 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Wins

Best Costume Design

1955
Helen Rose

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1955
Susan Hayward

Best Art Direction

1955

Best Cinematography

1955

Articles

I'll Cry Tomorrow


Lillian Roth was a star of stage musicals who had appeared in several successful films in the early sound era, including The Love Parade (1929), and the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers (1930). But her career was ruined by alcoholism and disastrous marriages. Alcoholics Anonymous saved her life, and Roth told the whole sordid story in her 1954 best-selling autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow.

Every female star in Hollywood wanted to play Roth in MGM's film version of I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) -- among those in the running were Jane Russell, Jane Wyman, Janet Leigh, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, and Grace Kelly. June Allyson seemed to have the inside track, until another actress took matters into her own hands. Susan Hayward wrote to studio head Dore Schary that the story "combines the best elements of my two favorite films, Smash-Up [1947] and With a Song in My Heart [1952]." Both films had earned the actress Academy Award nominations for her performances. Hayward also lobbied to get Lillian Roth on her side, studying Roth's performances in Las Vegas, and later visiting Roth in Beverly Hills, and talking with her for hours. Roth was convinced Hayward was the woman for the role. "We were both so emotional about things that when we faced each other it was almost like looking into a mirror. I was looking at Lillian and she was looking at Susan." Not only did Hayward get the part, she also got the script re-written for her, and the director of her choice, Daniel Mann.

But just before production began on I'll Cry Tomorrow, the pressures of Hayward's private life, along with the demands of the role, overwhelmed her. She was going through a messy divorce from actor Jess Barker, and a nasty custody battle for their twin sons. One night, Hayward took an overdose of sleeping pills. Before she blacked out, Hayward called her mother, who called police. Hayward barely survived. She never spoke publicly about why she tried to kill herself, but her own experience must have informed the harrowing scene she filmed a few weeks later, in which Roth attempts suicide.

In fact, enacting Roth's agony seems to have been cathartic for Hayward, and the sensitive direction she received from Mann resulted in a performance of great intensity from her. Together, they had visited jails, hospitals, and AA meetings to prepare. Before they shot a scene, star and director talked quietly about its emotions. If anger was needed, Hayward would work herself into a rage; if the emotion was grief, she was ready once she began sobbing. She held nothing back. And she let go of movie star vanity as well. "Danny Mann checked every detail," Hayward said later. "He wouldn't let me cheat with lipstick or even a curl. If he thought my hair wasn't mussed enough, he put water on his hands and mashed it down."

I'll Cry Tomorrow was realistic in another area as well. Hayward expected her singing to be dubbed by Roth, as she had been by Jane Froman when she starred in her life story, With a Song in My Heart. But before dubbing could take place, Hayward had to record the tracks so whoever dubbed her voice could duplicate her manner. Hayward's recordings showed that she had a fine, if untrained voice, and she did her own singing...much to Lillian Roth's disappointment. Roth, however, was deeply moved by Hayward's acting.

"Filmed on location...inside a woman's soul," the ads for I'll Cry Tomorrow proclaimed, and for once it wasn't much of an exaggeration. Susan Hayward received some of the best reviews of her career. Look Magazine called it "a shattering, intense performance that may win her the Academy Award" "Gut-wrenching," said Time. The performance earned Hayward her fourth Oscar nomination. But the Oscar that year went to Anna Magnani, for another Daniel Mann-directed performance, in The Rose Tattoo (1955). Hayward would finally win it for I Want to Live! (1958.)

Director: Daniel Mann
Producer: Lawrence Weingarten
Screenplay: Helen Deutsch & Jay Richard Kennedy, based on the book by Lillian Roth
Editor: Harold F. Kress
Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Alex North
Principal Cast: Susan Hayward (Lillian Roth), Richard Conte (Tony Bardeman), Eddie Albert (Burt McGuire), Jo Van Fleet (Katie Roth), Don Taylor (Wallie), Ray Danton (David Tredman), Margo (Selma), Carole Ann Campbell (Lillian as a child).
BW-119m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
I'll Cry Tomorrow

I'll Cry Tomorrow

Lillian Roth was a star of stage musicals who had appeared in several successful films in the early sound era, including The Love Parade (1929), and the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers (1930). But her career was ruined by alcoholism and disastrous marriages. Alcoholics Anonymous saved her life, and Roth told the whole sordid story in her 1954 best-selling autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow. Every female star in Hollywood wanted to play Roth in MGM's film version of I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) -- among those in the running were Jane Russell, Jane Wyman, Janet Leigh, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, and Grace Kelly. June Allyson seemed to have the inside track, until another actress took matters into her own hands. Susan Hayward wrote to studio head Dore Schary that the story "combines the best elements of my two favorite films, Smash-Up [1947] and With a Song in My Heart [1952]." Both films had earned the actress Academy Award nominations for her performances. Hayward also lobbied to get Lillian Roth on her side, studying Roth's performances in Las Vegas, and later visiting Roth in Beverly Hills, and talking with her for hours. Roth was convinced Hayward was the woman for the role. "We were both so emotional about things that when we faced each other it was almost like looking into a mirror. I was looking at Lillian and she was looking at Susan." Not only did Hayward get the part, she also got the script re-written for her, and the director of her choice, Daniel Mann. But just before production began on I'll Cry Tomorrow, the pressures of Hayward's private life, along with the demands of the role, overwhelmed her. She was going through a messy divorce from actor Jess Barker, and a nasty custody battle for their twin sons. One night, Hayward took an overdose of sleeping pills. Before she blacked out, Hayward called her mother, who called police. Hayward barely survived. She never spoke publicly about why she tried to kill herself, but her own experience must have informed the harrowing scene she filmed a few weeks later, in which Roth attempts suicide. In fact, enacting Roth's agony seems to have been cathartic for Hayward, and the sensitive direction she received from Mann resulted in a performance of great intensity from her. Together, they had visited jails, hospitals, and AA meetings to prepare. Before they shot a scene, star and director talked quietly about its emotions. If anger was needed, Hayward would work herself into a rage; if the emotion was grief, she was ready once she began sobbing. She held nothing back. And she let go of movie star vanity as well. "Danny Mann checked every detail," Hayward said later. "He wouldn't let me cheat with lipstick or even a curl. If he thought my hair wasn't mussed enough, he put water on his hands and mashed it down." I'll Cry Tomorrow was realistic in another area as well. Hayward expected her singing to be dubbed by Roth, as she had been by Jane Froman when she starred in her life story, With a Song in My Heart. But before dubbing could take place, Hayward had to record the tracks so whoever dubbed her voice could duplicate her manner. Hayward's recordings showed that she had a fine, if untrained voice, and she did her own singing...much to Lillian Roth's disappointment. Roth, however, was deeply moved by Hayward's acting. "Filmed on location...inside a woman's soul," the ads for I'll Cry Tomorrow proclaimed, and for once it wasn't much of an exaggeration. Susan Hayward received some of the best reviews of her career. Look Magazine called it "a shattering, intense performance that may win her the Academy Award" "Gut-wrenching," said Time. The performance earned Hayward her fourth Oscar nomination. But the Oscar that year went to Anna Magnani, for another Daniel Mann-directed performance, in The Rose Tattoo (1955). Hayward would finally win it for I Want to Live! (1958.) Director: Daniel Mann Producer: Lawrence Weingarten Screenplay: Helen Deutsch & Jay Richard Kennedy, based on the book by Lillian Roth Editor: Harold F. Kress Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling Costume Design: Helen Rose Art Direction: Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons Music: Alex North Principal Cast: Susan Hayward (Lillian Roth), Richard Conte (Tony Bardeman), Eddie Albert (Burt McGuire), Jo Van Fleet (Katie Roth), Don Taylor (Wallie), Ray Danton (David Tredman), Margo (Selma), Carole Ann Campbell (Lillian as a child). BW-119m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Eddie Albert (1906-2005)


Eddie Albert, a versatile film and television actor whose career spanned over seven decades, and who will forever be cherished by pop culture purists for his role as Oliver Douglas, that Manhattan attorney who sought pleasures from the simple life when he bought a rundown farm in the long-running sitcom Green Acres, died of pneummonia on May 26, at his Pacific Palisades home. He was 99.

The son of a real estate agent, Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Ill., on April 22, 1906. His family relocated to Minneapolis when he was still an infant. Long entralled by theatre, he studied drama at the University of Minnesota. After years of developing his acting chops in touring companies, summer stock and a stint with a Mexican circus, he signed a contract with Warner Bros. and made his film debut in Brother Rat (1938). Although hardly a stellar early film career, he made some pleasant B-pictures, playing slap happy youths in Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), and The Wagons Roll at Night (1941).

His career was interrupted for military service for World War II, and after his stint (1942-45), he came back and developed a stronger, more mature screen image: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947); Carrie (1952); his Oscar® nominated turn as the Bohemian photographer friend of Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953); a charming Ali Hakim in Oklahoma (1955); and to many critics, his finest hour as an actor, when he was cast unnervingly against type as a cowardly military officer whose lack of commitment to his troops results in their deaths in Attack! (1956).

As he settled into middle-age, Albert discovered belated fame when he made the move to Hooterville. For six seasons (1965-71), television viewers loved Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendal Douglas, the bemused city slicker who, along with his charming wife Lisa (Eva Gabor), takes a chance on buying a farm in the country and dealing with all the strange characters that come along their way. Of course, I'm talking about Green Acres. If he did nothing else, Alberts proved he could be a stalwart straight man in the most inane situations, and pull it off with grace.

After the run of Green Acres, Albert found two of his best roles in the late stages of his career that once again cast him against his genial, good-natured persona: the fiercly overprotective father of Cybill Shepherd in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), for which he earned his second Oscar® nomination; and the sadistic warden in Robert Aldrich's raucous gridiron comedy The Longest Yard (1974). Soon, Albert was in demand again, and he had another hit series, playing a retired police officer who partners with a retired con artist (Robert Wagner) to form a detective agency in Switch (1975-78).

The good roles slowed down slightly by the dawn of the '80s, both film: The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979), How to Beat the High Co$t of Living (1980), Take This Job and Shove It (1981); and television: Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Thirtysomething, offered him little in the way of expansion. Yet, Albert spent his golden years in a most admirable fashion, he became something of activist for world health and pollution issues throughout the latter stages of his life. It is widely acknowledged that International Earth Day (April 22) is honored on his birthday for his tireless work on environemental matters. Albert was married to famed hispanic actress Margo (1945-85) until her death, and is survived by his son, actor Edward Albert, a daughter, and two granddaughters.

by Michael T. Toole

Eddie Albert (1906-2005)

Eddie Albert, a versatile film and television actor whose career spanned over seven decades, and who will forever be cherished by pop culture purists for his role as Oliver Douglas, that Manhattan attorney who sought pleasures from the simple life when he bought a rundown farm in the long-running sitcom Green Acres, died of pneummonia on May 26, at his Pacific Palisades home. He was 99. The son of a real estate agent, Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Ill., on April 22, 1906. His family relocated to Minneapolis when he was still an infant. Long entralled by theatre, he studied drama at the University of Minnesota. After years of developing his acting chops in touring companies, summer stock and a stint with a Mexican circus, he signed a contract with Warner Bros. and made his film debut in Brother Rat (1938). Although hardly a stellar early film career, he made some pleasant B-pictures, playing slap happy youths in Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), and The Wagons Roll at Night (1941). His career was interrupted for military service for World War II, and after his stint (1942-45), he came back and developed a stronger, more mature screen image: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947); Carrie (1952); his Oscar® nominated turn as the Bohemian photographer friend of Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953); a charming Ali Hakim in Oklahoma (1955); and to many critics, his finest hour as an actor, when he was cast unnervingly against type as a cowardly military officer whose lack of commitment to his troops results in their deaths in Attack! (1956). As he settled into middle-age, Albert discovered belated fame when he made the move to Hooterville. For six seasons (1965-71), television viewers loved Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendal Douglas, the bemused city slicker who, along with his charming wife Lisa (Eva Gabor), takes a chance on buying a farm in the country and dealing with all the strange characters that come along their way. Of course, I'm talking about Green Acres. If he did nothing else, Alberts proved he could be a stalwart straight man in the most inane situations, and pull it off with grace. After the run of Green Acres, Albert found two of his best roles in the late stages of his career that once again cast him against his genial, good-natured persona: the fiercly overprotective father of Cybill Shepherd in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), for which he earned his second Oscar® nomination; and the sadistic warden in Robert Aldrich's raucous gridiron comedy The Longest Yard (1974). Soon, Albert was in demand again, and he had another hit series, playing a retired police officer who partners with a retired con artist (Robert Wagner) to form a detective agency in Switch (1975-78). The good roles slowed down slightly by the dawn of the '80s, both film: The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979), How to Beat the High Co$t of Living (1980), Take This Job and Shove It (1981); and television: Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Thirtysomething, offered him little in the way of expansion. Yet, Albert spent his golden years in a most admirable fashion, he became something of activist for world health and pollution issues throughout the latter stages of his life. It is widely acknowledged that International Earth Day (April 22) is honored on his birthday for his tireless work on environemental matters. Albert was married to famed hispanic actress Margo (1945-85) until her death, and is survived by his son, actor Edward Albert, a daughter, and two granddaughters. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Onscreen credits feature the following written quote by Lillian Roth: "My life was never my own-it was created before I was born. Lillian Roth." In the film, Susan Hayward's voice-over narration as Roth describes her descent into alcoholism. Roth (13 December 1910-12 May 1980) worked in show business from the age of six. Appearing in films, play and revues, she was billed as "Broadway's youngest star." Her career reached a peak in the late 1920s and early 1930s when she starred onstage while also appearing in a string of Hollywood films. By the late 1930s, however, her career was in decline, and she disappeared from the spotlight until 1953, when she told her tragic life story on the television series This Is Your Life.
       The series, hosted by Ralph Edwards, began in the late 1940s on radio and moved to the NBC television network in 1952. On each show, Edwards would profile the life on an unsuspecting subject. In Roth's case, however, she was informed beforehand, one of the few biographees to know in advance that she would be profiled. The Roth show, which was first broadcast on February 4, 1953, was sanctioned by Alcoholics Anonymous. As noted in modern sources, it was one of the most popular shows in the long-run series, and the only one to be rerun three times after its original presentation. Roth and "Burt" were married after the show appeared. The following year she wrote her autobiography in collaboration with Mike Connolly and Gerald Frank, and it was that book that provided the basis for this film. The resultant publicity allowed her to make a modest comeback in nightclubs, stage and television. Her last film was the 1977 picture Communion.
       August and September 1954 Daily Variety news items note that Paramount, the studio to which Roth was under contract during the early 1930s, tried to acquire the screen rights to Roth's novel, but was outbid by M-G-M. According to a March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Charles Walters, who was initially slated to direct I'll Cry Tomorrow, left the project because he wanted June Allyson rather than Susan Hayward to play the lead. I'll Cry Tomorrow marked Hayward's first singing role. According to materials contained in the M-G-M music files at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the studio considered using Sande Harris, a popular singer, to dub Hayward's songs, but later decided to allow Hayward to sing her own songs. In the onscreen credits, song titles are preceded by the phrase "Miss Hayward sings." Although Hayward had appeared as singer Jane Froman in the 1952 Twentieth-Century Fox film A Song In My Heart , in that film, her voice was dubbed by the real Jane Froman.
       William Dorfman was announced as the unit manager in a March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. March and May 1955 Hollywood Reporter news items note that Lana Wood tested for the role of "Lillian as a child," and that the studio was considering Thelma Ritter for the role of "Katie Roth." Although a June 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item lists Stanley Adams in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Margo, who played "Selma" in the film, was married to Eddie Albert, who played "Burt McGuire;" I'll Cry Tomorrow is the only picture they made together.
       The film did not have a broad national release until 1957, but was extensively road shown following the Los Angeles and New York openings in December 1955. As noted in a January 12, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M decided to concentrate "on a pre-release, city-by-city concentration rather than mass opening arrangements" because of the box office success of the film in its premiere engagements. The picture became the fourth highest-grossing film of 1956. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter on April 10, 1956, it took in close to $8,000,000 at the box office. I'll Cry Tomorrow was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Actress (Hayward); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (black and white) and Best Cinematography (black and white). Helen Rose won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (black and white).

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Best Actress Prize (Hayward) at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

Released in United States Winter December 1955

Released in United States on Video May 23, 1989

Broadcast over TNT (colorized version) April 7, 1990.

Released in United States Winter December 1955

Released in United States on Video May 23, 1989