Movie review: Shed No Tears (1948)

As I’ve been saying the last few weeks, I have a bunch of drawings including comics but no reliable scanning & editing set up (currently) – so I’m off my preferred schedule of posting once per weekday or whatever. BUT hey, I’m still watching old movies!

Shed No Tears stars June Vincent as Edna, the wife of a poor planner, Sam. I’m not sure what led Sam to the idea of borrowing a corpse from the morgue and setting fire to an apartment to make it look like he died so as Edna can get the life insurance and then the two of them will reunite later and live happily ever after. But I can imagine that there’s more going against this risky plan than most. Granted, it’s the 1940s, so they don’t have people taking selfies and then posting pics on social media loaded with facial recognition to tag your friends, so maybe Sam can live in anonymity on the other side of the country while they wait.

Sam is very trusting of Edna, which I wouldn’t be. I mean, your significant other should talk you out of zany insurance scams that involved faked deaths, right? “Or you could get a job” is easier said than done in this household, as opposed to “set fire to a hotel with no concern for collateral damage or others’ safety and everyone will be suspicious and certainly neither of us can be trusted.” Sam is also unaware that Edna has a boyfriend on the side, Ray, who I imagine Edna is attracted to because he doesn’t seem to have the brainpower to come up with zany schemes like faking anyone’s death for money. It’s Edna who is going to take the money and share with Ray, for some reason, and I say that because everyone so far acts like a big dummy and she could do better.

There’s another lunk in the system, Tom, who is Sam’s son from a previous marriage. Tom claims to be uninterested in the life insurance that is going to Edna, but a single cell in his meat brain is suspicious so not knowing how to say he’s suspicious, he hires a private eye. The private eye is a bit too snobbish and wry compared to everyone else in this movie, and in a way you’d root for him to sniff Sam and Edna’s plan out if not for the fact that he’d like a piece of the pie as well.

This movie is both pretty funny and kind of depressing. Sam finding himself getting shut out by Edna is both sad and funny as he pawns off other people’s property to buy airfare back across the country, and the private eye talking down to Tom would be funny if not for Tom’s frequent violent outbursts. People get shot and killed, and the depressing part is that for a noir movie, the punishments don’t fit the crime. It’s a series of doublecrosses where a character losing someone they love is punishment enough in a far better movie, their post-movie fates left up to our imaginations, but no this movie’s gotta push someone out the window to put a nail in that coffin, I guess. It ends with Tom regretting looking into the matter resulting in his dad getting arrested, but at this point getting arrested is too good for Sam.

So is it noir? Technically? Our protagonist’s flaw is regret. Sam’s the one who caused the crime and thus the chain of events. His son is just a big doofus and the only interesting character is the private eye (who has some genuinely funny moments). So I don’t feel any connection whatsoever to anyone. I guess you’re supposed to feel bad when father and son are doublecrossed by the people they depend on, but they’re either sleazy or violently stupid through the story so it’s not worth trying to make a connection with these characters. You can skip it, but it appears to be public domain and on the youtubes somewhere.

As for the cast, we saw June in the much better Black Angel.

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