Question. Has anyone ever filled a movie screen with cigarette smoke more authoritatively than Joan Crawford (see above)?

Well, let’s celebrate the ways audience can escape its quotidien woes by watching a darn good (and often unheralded) film. And if it happens to star a furiously puffing Crawford, so much the better.

One of Joe’s favorites is Warner Bros.’ 1950 noirish drama, The Damned Don’t Cry, starring Crawford who here is assisted by Steve Cochran and Kent Smith (he’s the match-holding guy above). Joe was pleasantly surprised that the movie was one of the top box office hits the year it came out.

Kent Smith, it should be noted, made a career out of playing plain vanilla types, but in two marvelous RKO titles produced by Val Lewton — 1942′ Cat People, directed beautifully by Jacques Tourneur, and the film’s sequel, 1944’s The Curse of the Cat People — he turns in excellent performances as a concerned husband (in the first) and loving husband-father (in the second).

In any event, we can think of few better films than The Damned Don’t Cry as unadulterated escapist entertainment.

Crawford plays an ambitious woman of uncertain backround (which generally means, poor) who dumps her tightwad husband (Richard Egan) to take up — after several sexy stops along the way — with a syndicate boss (played smoothly by David Brian). The plot is said to be based on the actual antics of notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel and moll Virginia Hill.

And, yes, Joan smokes impressively.
















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