The Damned Don’t Cry (1950)

Joan Crawford plays Ethel, a restless woman who abandons her husband after the death of their son, moving to the city and starting over as a dress model for a slightly sleazy firm where her duties include steering customers to a mob-owned gambling joint. Drawn into the demimonde, focused on getting ahead, she meets a bookkeeper and persuades him to go to work for the gambling joint’s owner. This leads to an introduction to George Castleman, the head of the mob. Attracted to her quick wit, Castleman grooms her Pygmalion-wise and Ethel transforms into Lorna Hansen Forbes, a woman of sophistication and impeccable taste. Instructed by Castleman to spy on an associate, Nick Prenta, Lorna loses her bearings and begins hurtling toward a violent confrontation. Ultimately a noir melodrama, The Damned Don’t Cry flips stereotypical gender roles, counterposing Lorna’s mercenary instincts to the gangsters’ masculine hysteria.