I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

117 or 119 mins | Biography, Drama | December 1955

Director:

Daniel Mann

Cinematographer:

Arthur E. Arling

Editor:

Harold F. Kress

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Malcolm Brown

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

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 Dec 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 4 Feb 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 ... More Less

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 Dec 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 4 Feb 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 .
       Aug and Sep 1954 DV 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 Mar 1955 HR 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 (See Entry), in that film, her voice was dubbed by the real Jane From an.
       An exterior scene was shot in front of the original Hard Rock Cafe at 300 E. Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA.
       William Dorfman was announced as the unit manager in a Mar 1955 HR news item, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. Mar and May 1955 HR 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 Jun 1955 HR 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 Dec 1955. As noted in a 12 Jan 1956 HR 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 HR on 10 Apr 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). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Dec 1955.
---
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1954.
---
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1954.
---
Daily Variety
16 Dec 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Dec 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1955
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1955
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Dec 55
p. 705.
New York Times
13 Jan 56
p. 18.
Variety
21 Dec 55
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Don Barry
Herbert C. Lytton
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Dramatic mus score
Miss Hayward's songs arr and cond
Vocal coach
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book I'll Cry Tomorrow by Lillian Roth, in collaboration with Mike Connolly and Gerold Frank (New York, 1954).
MUSIC
"The Vagabond King Waltz" by Rudolf Friml.
SONGS
"Sing You Sinners," words and music by Sam Coslow and W. Franke Harling
"When the Red, Red Robin comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along," words and music by Harry Woods
"Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe," words and music by E. Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen.
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1955
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 18 November 1955
Los Angeles premiere: 23 December 1955
Production Date:
15 June--mid August 1955
New York location shooting 13--15 August
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 January 1956
Copyright Number:
LP5860
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.75:1
Duration(in mins):
117 or 119
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17685
Passed by NBR:
No
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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