Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951): Felix Feist’s Crime Noir, Starring Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran

As written and directed by Felix R. Feist, Tomorrow Is Another Day is just another (minor) film noir, elevated by its two stars, Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran, until it’s dragged down midway, and ultimately marred by an uncompelling happy ending.

The movie was initially intended for John Garfield, but he died in 1952, and Cochran got the part.

The script was penned by Guy Endore, who was blacklisted after the movie for his politics, and Art Cohn.

The premise: An ex-convict who thinks he killed a man goes into hiding with a woman whose boyfriend is the man he had supposedly killed.

Convicted of murdering his abusive father at age 13, Bill Clark is freed after 18 years in prison. On his release, Bill meets and befriends Dan Monroe, but is angered when he discovers that Monroe is a reporter exploiting Bill for sensational story to be titled “boy killer.”

Though wary of people Bill is attracted to taxi dancer Cathy “Cay” Higgins, who initially rejects his advances. After he gifts her a watch and they tour the city together, she invites him up to her place.

The couple is then confronted by George Conover, Cathy’s estranged boyfriend, who orders Bill to leave.  Bill counter-attacks Conover and gets hold of the gun, but is knocked unconscious. Retrieving the gun, Cathy shoots Conover, and the wounded man staggers out of the apartment.

Cathy informs Bill that Conover is actually a New York police detective and urges him to go his own way, believing that the policeman would not want publicity from pressing charges for the shooting. She tells him she is going to her brother’s home in New Jersey, to lie low. Later, Bill discovers that Conover has been hospitalized and that his assailant is being sought. Terrified that he may be responsible, he tracks Cathy down at her brother’s home.

When she realizes Bill has no memory of that night, Cathy leads him to believe that he had shot Conover before passing out. A radio report on Conover’s death, motivates the two to go on the lam together.

Cathy’s brother allows lends then his car to cross the state line. At a diner, the couple abandon the car and stow away in an auto mounted on a car carrier.

Initially at odds with each other, the couple’s feelings begin to warm and Bill persuades Cathy to marry him under assumed names. The couple continue to hitch-hike, growing closer along the way.

In California, they meet Henry and Stella Dawson and their son, heading toward the fields of Salinas. Bill and Cathy join them, finding both honest work and happiness.

Eventually, Henry sees Bill’s picture in crime magazine, which offers $1000 reward for any information. Henry is eager to turn Bill in, but Stella objects strongly.

However, Bill becomes suspicious about what Henry knows and declines to go fishing with him.  He’s tempted to run away, until Cathy announces her pregnancy.

When Henry is badly injured in a car accident, Stella gives into temptation for the reward. When Bill sees a police officer, he prepares to attack him. In an attempt to stop him, Cathy confesses that she was the one who had shot Conover.

In New York, each determined to spare the other, Bill and Cathy confess to the killing. The district attorney, however, informs them that Conover had confessed before dying how he had been shot in self-defense.

In the improbable happy coda, the couple is finally ready to resume their life together.

Despite shortcomings in the writing, the film contains several thrilling sequences, such as the one in which the pair hide in a car being transported by truck.

Moderately popular, the movie earned $1.7 million at the box office.

Cast
Ruth Roman as Cathy “Cay” Higgins
Steve Cochran as William “Bill” Clark
Lurene Tuttle as Stella Dawson
Ray Teal as Henry Dawson
Morris Ankrum as Hugh Wagner
John Kellogg as Dan Monroe
Lee Patrick as Janet Higgins
Hugh Sanders as Detective Lt. George Conover
Stuart Randall as Frank Higgins
Robert Hyatt as Johnny Dawson
Harry Antrim as Warden
Walter Sande as Sheriff