Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

In director Daniel Mann's and MGM's dramatic and poignant musical biopic about a showbiz singer/actress and Broadway star named Lillian Roth - the film followed Billy Wilder's account of a doomed male alcoholic Don Birnam (Ray Milland) in The Lost Weekend (1945), and prefaced director Blake Edwards' Days of Wine and Roses (1962). Hayward had also already starred in an Oscar-nominated role as an alcoholic nightclub singer in Smash Up - The Story of a Woman (1947). "I'll Cry Tomorrow" was Hayward's first singing role.

The film's taglines were: "This story was filmed on location... inside a woman's soul!" and "She fell from fame to shame!" The plot was based upon Lillian Roth's own forthright and courageous best-selling 1954 "tell-all" autobiographical account of her personal tragedies (including five marriages) and 16 years of struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. The film's title was derived from her determined stage mother's advice to her resistant, crying daughter: "You got all day tomorrow to cry":

  • during the opening title credits, one of Lillian Roth's own quotes was displayed on a title card: "My life was never my own - - it was charted before I was born. Lillian Roth"
  • the film's opening was composed of scenes to illustrate young 8 year-old Lillian Roth's (Carole Ann Campbell) quick rise to stardom on the stage and screen, due to the constant pressure from her domineering "stage mother" Katie (Jo Van Fleet), who urged: "There'll be Broadway plays and Hollywood. You'll be happy, successful, the best....They gotta know who you are, see? And we gotta show them. And you have to believe that I know what's right"; Lillian's critical, pushy, over-ambitious and controlling mother orchestrated her daughter's entire career to seek fame and success; she also reassured her crying daughter: "I'll tell you what, you could cry tomorrow, huh? Huh? Sure. You wait until tomorrow. You got all day tomorrow to cry, huh?"

Lillian's Stage Mother Katie: "I'll tell you what, you could cry tomorrow, huh?"

Lillian Roth: "Broadway's Youngest Star"

At Paramount Pictures: "Sing, You Sinners"
  • years later in a Paramount Pictures studio in Los Angeles, the glamorous screen star Lillian Roth (Oscar-nominated Susan Hayward) sang the jazzy number on stage: "Sing, You Sinners" - during the filming of the pre-Code Hollywood musical comedy Honey (1930), while her mother watched from off-stage
  • Katie had limited Lillian's romantic prospects with her childhood sweetheart and fiancee David Tredman (Ray Danton), an entertainment company lawyer from New York; as her agent, he had arranged for a B.F. Keith's Palace Theatre (Broadway) engagement and a national tour; Katie tried to convince David that all of her hard-work was finally paying off: ("The troubles. The disappointments we've had, the sacrifices we've had to make, just so Lillian could sing and go on singing and the whole world would hear her"), but she now feared David might jeopardize Lillian's ambitions and success due to the couple's desire to marry, settle down and raise a family
  • just before Lillian's opening night performance at the Palace Theatre, she and David (in the hospital) spoke by phone and pledged their love to each other; shortly later after she went on-stage to sing the number: "When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along", she was notified that David had suddenly died of an undisclosed illness (brain cancer?) in the hospital; she reacted with extreme despondency and grief
  • although she continued on a national vaudeville tour, Lillian continued to be stage managed by her mother, who wanted her to forget David's memory, and kept controlling her, as Lillian objected: "You always know what's good for me. How to dance, where to sing, what to wear, who to go out with"; Lillian also complained about how her mother had always stymied her romance with David: ("You hated him. You think I don't know? All those phone calls you never even told me about?"); she delivered an ultimatum to her mother: "I want you to leave me alone," but remained distraught ("I'm so mixed-up, so confused")
  • during a long period of recovery from emotional pain and paralyzing grief, Lillian was offered alcohol by her nurse Ellen (Virginia Gregg) to calm her and help her to get a good night's sleep; she descended into a pattern of drunkenness and alcohol abuse; Lillian narrated in voice-over the devastating effect alcohol had on her: "I felt I no longer needed Katie's reassurance. I was getting it out of a bottle. For the first time, I was completely secure on a stage. I was sure at last that they liked me. And I deserved it. I was something. I was glamorous. I was the best singer in the world"

Lillian Completely Grief-Stricken by David's Death

Offered A Glass of Alcohol by Her Nurse Ellen (Virginia Gregg)
  • after dating and getting drunk with immature aviation soldier-cadet Wallie (Don Taylor), a surprised Lillian (who had blacked out) was told that they had gotten married; it was emblematic of Lillian's independence and rebellion against her mother ("Now, I was really on my own. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do"); Lillian's very short, year-long loveless marriage was mostly a drunken stupor between the two: ("We tried to forget that we didn't love one another...In fact, we tried just about everything but staying sober. Drinking became our way of life. It was a means of forgetting our problems"); it was not long before Wallie become fed up with being known as "Mr. Lillian Roth" and the two broke up and divorced

First Husband Aviation Cadet Wallie (Don Taylor)

Second Husband Tony Bardeman (Richard Conte)
  • two years later in NY, she met and fell prey to manipulative, sadistic and fellow alcoholic Tony Bardeman (Richard Conte) from Los Angeles, who charmed her; as she was getting more involved with Tony, Lillian's mother arrived for a visit after learning about Lillian's excessive drinking, and she warned: "You're going to become an old-fashioned drunkard...Everybody is talking, the agents, the managers"
  • Lillian realized that she had become a full-blown alcoholic and her life continued to revolve around the bottle (voice-over): "Almost overnight, I became a secret drinker. I lived in constant terror of being found out of having my name spread over the newspapers. But like all alcoholics, I lied to myself. I told myself I was drinking because I was high-strung and sensitive. I was an artist. I'd been hurt. One day, it was to pick me up because I was down. Another, it was to quiet me down because I was so high"
  • soon after, Tony and Lillian became reacquainted and he promised that they could have a lifetime of sobriety together: ("Let's go on the wagon together, huh? On a wagon like that, we could travel anywhere...I'm gonna take you away, and we'll help each other"); he proposed marriage, and then deceived her into a loan of $5,000 for a business deal in Chicago
  • Lillian moved to California with Tony, and in a Los Angeles bar with the emotionally-abusive Tony, she confessed to him and other bar patrons: ("I'm what you call an adorable drunk... I'm no good. That's the way it's gotta be. I'm just nothin'. A hopeless drunk. Gettin' just what I deserve"); their altercation led to a very public incident in the parking lot
  • soon after, Lillian's life and career descended into ruin; she left Tony in the middle of the night, pawned her fur coat to obtain a drink, and eventually she ended up on LA's Skid Row - in dive bars, flop houses, and on the street

A Drunken and Ruined Lillian

On the Street in LA's Skid Row
  • realizing that she needed help, she contacted her mother (off-screen) to rescue her ("Katie, come and get me...take me home"); she returned to NYC to live in a tiny apartment with her mother for a brief time; in one of the film's most memorable sequences, they had a vicious argument together when the alcohol-addicted Lillian blamed her mother for deliberately breaking an alcohol bottle: ("OH! Look what ya did! And ya DID IT ON PURPOSE! You're still tryin' to make me do what you want, to be what you want! I can't be anything except what I am! Look, look what did you drop that bottle for? What are you tryin' to do, drive me crazy? Go on, GET THE BOTTLE! GET IT NOW!")
  • her mother admitted pushing her into being the famed actress Lillian Roth and projecting her own ambitions onto her, in order to survive: ("All right! All right! All right, it's my fault, huh? I made you become an actress, you didn't want to, all right. I've been a bad mother. You had to support me, all right! All right! ALL RIGHT, EVERYTHING! Just this, and for once in your life you're gonna hear it! Do you know at all why I did it, do you? No, you don't! Do you know what kind of a life I had? Do you know what it was like to live with your father, put up with his mistakes and afterwards to be left alone with nothin'? No money, no career, not young anymore, nothin' to fall back on? No, you don't! You don't know at all what I tried to save you from, the kind of freedom I never had! I tried to give to you by making you LILLIAN ROTH!")
  • Lillian barked back that her mother's efforts weren't entirely successful: ("So you admit it! You invented Lillian Roth! All right, now look at me. I said look at me, don't turn your face away! I'm the looking glass you created to see yourself in! All right, all right see yourself now in me! Look at this ugly picture! And then GET OUTTA HERE! But keep this picture before your face for as LONG AS YOU LIVE!")
  • the two made up and hugged, and Lillian comforted her sobbing mother: ("It kills me when you cry....Remember, remember what you used to tell me? You said, 'Cry tomorrow. You've got all day tomorrow.' Mama. Cry tomorrow")
  • the very-depressed Lillian left her mother's apartment and rented a room on the upper floor of a hotel, where she attempted suicide by jumping from the skyscraper window, but when she was unable to do it ("Oh, dear God, help me, help me"), she slumped and fell to the floor; her life had devolved to one of self-pity, self-hate, and self-destruction
  • she left the hotel and wandered on the street, and happened to come across an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) building, where she entered and soon made a remarkable comeback in her battle against alcohol; polio-crippled friend and AA sponsor Burt McGuire (Eddie Albert) (whom she eventually married), and two others: Selma (Margo) and Jerry (Don "Red" Barry) helped her to recover in her hotel room; with their support and encouragement, she suffered through painful withdrawal and delirium tremens
  • during regular attendance at AA meetings, she heard Burt's wise words: ("We have three choices: AA, the psycho ward, or the graveyard. And when we get close enough to the graveyard to recognize it, the issue becomes clear-cut and simple. Die now or fight and live")
Burt and Lillian at AA Meetings
  • Lillian finally became sober, but due to his own feelings of inadequacy, Burt rebuffed and refused to acknowledge her growing love for him
  • in the film's conclusion set in 1953, Lillian was offered an opportunity to make an appearance on the This Is Your Life NBC-TV program hosted by Ralph Edwards (as Himself) in California; she sought advice from Burt about whether she should accept the offer; he told her that it was her decision to make on her own, and that she didn't need him anymore; he finally confessed that he was afraid to allow himself to love her; they agreed that together, they would help each other: ("Love me, Burt. We belong together. Together, we can help each other") - before kissing
  • she made a courageous decision to go public and appear on the TV show to give hope to others who suffered the same pain due to alcoholism; before walking down the aisle of the TV audience to speak to the host, she shared her thoughts to Burt (with tears welling up in her eyes): ("I only know that you get by giving, and this is all I've got to give")
Lillian's Appearance on "This Is Your Life" NBC-TV Program
  • Lillian's life was introduced by Ralph Edwards as: "A story of degradation and shame, but when you hear the facts, you'll realize how much courage it took for her to come here tonight. You'll also realize that it's a story full of hope, hope for many who are living and suffering in a half-world of addiction to alcohol. Hope for all people, whoever and wherever they are, so THIS IS YOUR LIFE, LILLIAN ROTH!"

Lillian Roth Quote

Showbiz Singer/Actress Lillian Roth (Susan Hayward)

Lillian's Childhood Friend/Agent David Tredman (Ray Danton)

Romance with David

Katie's (Jo Van Fleet) Worries About Lillian's Success Going Away

Lillian Telling Her Mother About Her Goal to Marry David

Lillian's Last Phone Call-Conversation with David Before His Death

Lillian: "When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along"

Lillian to Her Mother: "I want you to leave me alone!"

Lillian's Descent into Drunkenness and Alcohol Abuse

With Abusive and Mean Husband Tony in an LA Bar

A Public Altercation Between Tony and Lillian in the Parking Lot

Argument With Her Domineering Stage Mother Katie in Their NYC Apartment

Lillian Comforting Her Mother Afterwards: ("Cry tomorrow...")

Lillian's Failed and Aborted Suicide Attempt In a Hotel Room

Burt McGuire (Eddie Albert)

Lillian Roth with Burt - During Alcohol Withdrawal Pains

Burt and Lillian: "Together, we can help each other"


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