Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Too Late For Tears (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Too Late For Tears (1949) (aka Killer Bait)

This great noir from director Byron Haskin featured a ruthless femme fatale: a crafty, manipulative, evil, and vicious pathological, cash-crazed woman whose only goal was to get and stay rich. The deadly female was portrayed by popular, husky-voiced femme fatale actress Lizabeth Scott. The film's tagline described her:

"She got what she wanted...with lies...with kisses...with murder!"

The film opened in the late 1940s as housewife Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott) was on a night-time drive at about 8:30 pm to a Hollywood Hills party with her husband Alan (Arthur Kennedy). She complained that the guests would only be stuffy and obnoxious, and begged Alan to turn around and return home. When there was a brief struggle for the ignition keys, their car's headlights were inadvertently blinked.

As he did so, a leather bag of 'dirty money' was suddenly thrown into their open convertible by a passing car. They were briefly pursued by the supposed recipient of the bag, but lost him. Alan wanted to do the right thing and turn in the "poison" money ("It's a bag of dynamite. That was a payoff - probably blackmail") to the police, as he urged her:

"If we don't report this, it's a felony, the same as stealing it. It's a blind alley with a big barred gate at the end!"

However, Jane felt this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ("The money was literally thrown in our laps. No one in the world knows we have it!"). She was bitter about continuing to be poor and told Alan after dumping the contents of the satchel onto their bed: "You've given me a dozen down payments and installments for the rest of our lives." [Note: There was a brief introduction to Alan's sister, Kathy Palmer (Kristine Miller), who lived directly across the hall.]

Jane: Avaricious For the Money

Alan wanted to keep the bag for a week, so the next morning, he stashed the leather satchel in the Parcel Check at Union Station while retaining the claim check stub in his coat pocket. Jane continued to desire to keep the illicit $60,000 and went on a shopping binge. She started to lavishly spend the funds on furs and run up their bills, and was determined to keep the money from its rightful recipient and her husband, by using whatever means possible (including lying and murder).

While Alan was out, sneering, unlikeable hood Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea), insinuating that he was a private detective from the Detective Bureau, arrived at the Palmer's place (Chateau Michel, an upper middle class apartment in Hollywood) for a "routine check." With her husband at work, Jane lied and claimed that they had already turned it over to the police. He searched her place, after slyly telling her: "You haven't anything to hide, have you?" After finding her furs purchase in the kitchen, he became very skeptical and asked: "Where's my dough?" On the sofa, he slapped her across the face a few times to rough her up. Danny vowed to return if he didn't read about the return of the cash in the newspaper: ("I'm going to buy an evening paper, and there'd better be something in it about money, or I'll be around again. An' I'm afraid I'll be awfully peeved at ya, honey!").

That evening, Alan and Jane resumed their argument, and he complained about her lavish purchases of almost $800 dollars: (Alan: "The money won't buy you anything. It will only make you miserable and unhappy...What's happening to us? What's happening? The money sits down there in an old leather bag, and yet it's tearing us apart. It's poison, Jane. It's changing both of us"). She described her lowly upbringing and her greedy desire for money for her entire life:

"I haven't changed. It's the way I am. You've got to let me keep that money...I won't let you just give it away. Chances like this are never offered twice. This is it. I've been waiting for it, dreaming of it all my life - even when I was a kid. And it wasn't because we were poor, not hungry poor at least. I suppose, in a way, it was far worse. We were white collar poor, middle-class poor. The kind of people who can't quite keep up with the Joneses and die a little every day because they can't."

Jane mentioned her previous "unhappy" marriage to Bob Blanchard (ending in Bob's suicide), and admitted she had married him for his money because she was poor. The two agreed that at the end of a week, they would turn the bag and money over to the DA. The couple proposed going on a date together (dinner and a boat outing) the next evening, just like old times.

The next day, when Danny returned to again taunt and harrass her: ("Just where did you stash my cash?"), Jane used her seductive wiles and sexual teasing to keep him at bay. She was determined to keep the money rather than give it up to authorities (her husband's wishes). She hinted that she could evenly split the dirty money with him - she even allowed him to kiss her - and then eagerly kissed him a second time. He was still wary however: ("For your sake, beautiful, I hope you're not trying to soft-soap me. I wouldn't take kindly to it"). As he left, he forcefully pushed or tweaked her chin and added: "That's just to remind you honey, You're in a tough racket now." They conspired to contact each other later - and to meet up at 9 pm in a neutral place - next to a palm tree by the lake in Westlake Park (near downtown LA). In preparation for the evening, she packed her husband's gun in her purse.

During a boat ride on the lake in Westlake Park with her husband that same evening, they squabbled in the boat over Alan's gun that fell out of Jane's purse, and Alan was accidentally shot and killed. Knowing that she faced manslaughter charges, she then met Danny at the palm tree next to the lake, as planned - she threatened him at gunpoint with blackmail into cooperating: "If you move, I'll shoot you and tell them you killed my husband." She had him switch his coat and hat with the corpse, and had Danny help her weigh down Alan's body with an anchor and sink it to the bottom of the lake. Then, to make it look like she had returned from the boat ride with Alan, she had Danny impersonate her husband, both at the boat dock and in her apartment's parking garage.

With Alan's sister Kathy in her apartment late that night, Jane kept up the illusion that her husband was missing. Kathy had already become worried and suspicious of Jane. Jane preposterously claimed that Alan, with whom she said she had often fought, had run off with another woman: ("I've known it for a long time. Alan doesn't love me anymore. He's beginning to get tired of me...We've been quarrelling a lot lately about little unimportant things"). Kathy didn't believe her dubious story.

Jane also kept stringing Danny along, and attempting to find different ways to eliminate him, and to keep him off the path of acquiring the money. Danny was realizing that Jane was more cold and heartless than he was:

"You know, Tiger, I didn't know they made 'em as beautiful as you are, and as smart. Or as hard."

She drove up into Coldwater Canyon with Danny, claiming she had buried the cash there, but her plan was botched after a near-accident. He became wary and fled from the car: "Not this time, Tiger. You didn't bury that dough, and I know it. I'll see ya sometime in the daylight with a million people around." And then her car was stolen when she abandoned it by parking it by the ocean, and was later located 12 miles south of San Diego near the Mexican-US border - lending credence to Jane's fabricated story that Alan was cheating on her and had fled to Mexico.

[Note: It was thought that Alan's coat contained the claim ticket for the bag of money, but it was later revealed elsewhere. It thoroughly frustrated both Jane and Danny that they couldn't find the claim ticket in Alan's coat. Meanwhile, Kathy used a pass key to secretly search Jane and Alan's apartment, and found the claim ticket for the briefcase in Alan's dresser drawer (beneath where he kept his gun). She took it.]

Into the mix came Don Blake (Don DeFore), mysteriously claiming that he was an old war buddy of Alan's, and happened to be on vacation in Hollywood. He conferred with Alan's sister Kathy about Alan's strange disappearance - and both became very suspicious of Jane. Don knew of Jane's deadly past: ("I never met Jane, but I never liked her either. You know her first husband killed himself?"). The two began to work together to discover the real circumstances of Alan's disappearance.

Jane became extremely nervous when Lt. Breach (Barry Kelley) of the Homicide Division questioned her about Alan's possible dalliance with another unidentified woman. Kathy suspected that Jane was covering up and concocting an alibi about the other woman: "Jane, you never told me, why?...I know Alan wasn't seeing another woman, and so do you....Your description of this other woman, Jane, it sounded very much like you."

To keep her hopes alive for the bag of money, Jane begged Danny to help her to get rid of Kathy, who was snooping around and becoming a threat. She also suspected that Don was an imposter. Jane was able to convince the reluctant Danny to buy poison for her so that she could kill Kathy: ("We've got to help each other...Kathy, my sister-in-law, she's getting suspicious. She's beginning to figure the whole thing out...You're going to help me again, Danny...You've got no other choice. We can't just wait and let her kill us. I didn't mean to kill Alan, but it's done and now it's our lives against hers"). Then, Jane could claim that her sister-in-law was "despondent" over Alan's disappearance. Danny agreed but felt trapped: "You are a tiger. You got me in so deep, I can't get out. I'll get the stuff for you. But, like you say, you gotta do the rest. Every bit of it."

Don and Kathy were beginning to show some romantic interest in each other - and were also committed to seeking the truth about Alan and Jane: (Don: "There's something going on here, Kathy, and it's not very pretty. Don't ask me what it is or why I think so, but, bear with me, Kate, will you?"). Later, before they could leave for dinner and a stop at Union Station with the claim ticket, Don and Kathy were intercepted by Jane and invited into her apartment. Forever scheming and confirming that Don was an imposter, Jane held Don and Kathy at gunpoint, demanded the claim ticket, and knocked Don out. Kathy was able to flee back to her apartment unharmed, where she phoned the Hollywood police.

Afterwards, Jane claimed the case of money for herself from Union Station's Parcel Check. (She asked a male bystander pick up the bag for her to avoid suspicion. She noticed a note on the bag with Alan's instructions to the claims agent to notify the police if a woman claimed the bag.) Then, to eliminate Danny, Jane went to his house. He was suffering from a hangover, but was still very wary of her plan to escape with him to Mexico with the money:

"Don't ever change, tiger. I don't think I'd like you with a heart."

To celebrate their newfound treasure, he proposed a drink, but first she wanted to know if the money could be safely used and spent. He explained that he had acquired blackmail payoff money due to him from an insurance agent's racket-scam that collected premiums. Then, she found the opportunity to poison him (with the poison he had acquired for Jane to kill Kathy!), after he toasted: "Here's to crime, it pays and pays!" He collapsed dead to the floor. Authorities pondered whether it was murder or suicide.

The duplicitous Jane fled with the unmarked cash in the bag to Mexico City via her convertible. Although her excuse was to find her husband Alan there, she really intended to lead a life of luxury in a ritzy hotel penthouse (the Hotel Reforma) as Miss Jane Petrie. Don (and Kathy) trailed Jane to Mexico, where Don confronted her in her hotel suite with the truth about Alan's murder and the fact that she had the bag with $60,000. When she allegedly reached for her lipstick, he assumed she was reaching for a weapon: "Colt? Or Smith & Wesson?"

After she bargained and desperately offered to share one-half of her loot with him, he only took a small portion (to pay for dragging the small lake at Westlake Park to locate Jane's missing husband) as part of his "vendetta." She then discovered that he was the brother of Jane's earlier, first husband Bob Blanchard. Don said that he never believed the report that his brother was suicidal, but had always suspected Jane of murdering him. Like Alan, Bob had also died under mysterious circumstances. According to Jane, she said that when Bob found out that she didn't love him, he committed suicide ("I swear I didn't kill him!"). Don surmised, however, that she might have easily driven him to kill himself:

"There are many ways of killing a man, Jane. And now that I know you, I can believe Bob probably did kill himself."

He threatened her with an end to her murder spree - of both Alan and Danny: "You're all through killing now, Jane." When the Mexican police authorities broke into the room, an armed Jane backed up, tripped on the bag, and fatefully fell from the second floor balcony to her death on the stone driveway below - with some of the loot next to her outstretched hand.

Jane's Death - Off a Mexican Hotel Balcony

In the final epilogue, Don and Kathy met in the hotel lobby - to return home from a short honeymoon: ("Well, it was a short honeymoon, Kathy. We're going home now"). Kathy solemnly asked: "Jane?" and he responded: "Yeah," as they walked off.

Jane and Alan Palmer (Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy)

Discovery of Bag of Cash in Back Seat

Jane: "No one in the world knows we have it!"

Kathy Palmer (Kristine Miller)

Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea)

Jane Lying to Danny and Being Slapped Around

Conspiring with Danny - Sealed with a Kiss

Accidental Shooting - Death of Alan in Boat

The Claim Ticket to the Bag of Money in Alan's Dresser Drawer

Kathy with Don Blake (Don DeFore)

Jane Becoming Nervous When Questioned by Lt. Breach

Jane Conspiring with Danny to Kill Kathy, Her Sister-in-Law

Jane - Realizing That Don Was An Imposter, And Demanding the Claim Ticket

Alan's Note on Bag of Money

Danny to Jane: "Don't ever change, tiger. I don't think I'd like you with a heart"

Jane and Danny Toasting With a Poisoned Drink: "Here's to crime. It pays and pays"

Jane's Flight to Mexico With the Cash

Jane's Shock at Finding Don at Her Hotel Door

Jane Offering to Share Half of the Money with Don


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