RUTH ROMAN / TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY ( 1951 )

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[ 12 / 22 / 22  ~  9 / 9 / 99 ]

There’s nothing like diving into a series of films in one fell swoop to watch the breadth of a talented performer or director. I did this with RUTH ROMAN. I call her The Mighty Roman. I find her a very commanding presence. Her darkness could be part of it. She’s sable; with a dark touch of Dana Wynter Suzanne Pleshette Gail RussellGail Patrick Jean Simmons / Barbara Rush~thing going on…all rolled up into one fierce package. Someone in my FaceBook group mentioned another actress who did not have the chops to stare a man down. Well Ruth certainly can. My  God its withering. ruth-romanThere’s a touch of danger in her. Her performances are believable and with conviction. I’m not quite sure why she really wasn’t a bigger star. Why couldn’t she truly break out though she’s done 60+ films. Could it be she was more character actress than leading lady?

Well I’m going with that and nudging Ruthies name as a participant in the “WHAT A CHARACTER!” blogathon. To be included in this peren nial favorite, now in its fifth year, is a big deal for my little blog. Hosted by Aurora of “Once Upon A Screen”, Kellee of “Outspoken and Freckled” and Paula of “Paula’s Cinema Club” this blogathon shines a spotlight on those somewhat unheralded in our cozy little classic film community. So let me showcase the Mighty Roman here and later talk about one of my favorite films of hers “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”

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Ruth Roman is a Yankee, a New Englander born in Revere, Massachusetts in 1922 ( though different sources cite different years for her birth ).  She studied acting at the Bishop Lee Dramatic School and cut her teeth with the New England Repertory Company before heading out to Hollywood. She tooled around in bit parts in ‘uncredited girl’ roles young actresses are wont to do before getting her break by studio head Dore Schary to appear opposite relative newcomer, Kirk Douglas in CHAMPION.”

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Roman plays housewife to dopey Glenn Ford in “YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS.” She tones it down. For me it’s a crime to see her wearing an apron, running after three kids and puttering around the house, when she seems like she should be in a board room…but I went with it. Next up she’s a glamorous Nancy Drew trying to figure out if Richard Todd is indeed a murderer in “LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE.” I enjoyed this movie. While in my kitchen I heard the familiar voice of that other tigress, Mercedes McCambridge and ran into the living room to confirm it. Yup. It was her. I love that crazy McCambridge and her staccato delivery. Ruth is a good girl in this; falling in love…and then in fear. She’s light, easy…witty and clever with black shining eyes.

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Ruth does another turn as a good girl in Hitchcocks masterpiece of double trouble: “STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.” Ruth doesnt have much to do in this Hitchcock classic but be the supportive girlfriend. And see…she can be that way too. Again I think she tamps it down to make it plausible for Farley Granger to get a girl like her. ( He really is more suited to a Cathy O’Donnell-type ). But thats okay Ruthie. Youre in a Hitchcock film. Hell, what blondes can do, so can brunettes.  

Roman had a real~life drama on her hands when the cruise ship she was on sunk. In 1956 returning to the States from Europe, the Andrea Dorea collided with MS Stockholm. Roman ran back to her cabin to grab her three year old little boy and put in a lifeboat. The boat took off before Ruth could board it. She got on another lifeboat and was reunited with her son via the Ile de France. Dont know if her career could ever compare to that.

If my preference is seeing Roman on the mean side ~ ( hey, what can I tell ya? ) ~ thenINVITATION” satisfies my need. Starring Dorothy McGuire and Van Johnson, Roman plays Johnson’s ex-fiancee ( Maud ) who is dumped so he can marry McGuire. Roman does not suffer loss easily and is a stone cold bitch when she discovers Johnson only marries McGuire because shes dying. Oh yeah, she makes sure she knows this:

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“Oh, don’t worry, I just happened to be in the building, and dropped into his office. Oh, he’s still yours, at least for the time being. I told you, remember, the day of your wedding, ‘I don’t give up so easily.’ Remember? I said, ‘The first round goes to you, or your father’s money … You can have Dan,’ I said, ‘for about a year on loan.’ And that’s why you’re really here, isn’t it?  Because the year’s dwindling out fast. Only a couple of months left, and you’re scared to death. Well, Ellen, do you think I have given up?”

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I’ve only seen pieces of “THREE SECRETS” many years too long ago. One of my friends has reviewed this film in his cozy corner of my blog. Tell me THIS doesn’t whet your appetite. Roman is comfortable in westerns as proof is in the sasparilla of “BELLE STARR’S DAUGHTER” “COLT .45 “REBEL IN TOWN”, the famed Anthony Mann’s THE FAR COUNTRY” with James Stewart and “DALLAS” with that lovely stalwart tall drink of water…Gary Cooper. Also in the cast, waiting in the wings, is the other side of midnight: Steve Cochran. She worked with the dark, handsome and dangerous Steve Cochran in a film I’d like to look at in detail. “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”

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I had never heard of this movie, didnt know what the heck to expect; its better that way. I was pleasantly surprised. TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY reveals a couple of layers I enjoyed.

THE BOY CAN ACT

STEVE COCHRAN plays an ex-con just released from prison. I always liked Cochran…his lush deep dark looks and tough guy persona. But thats not quite what I got in “Tomorrow…” ( no tough-guy, but still killer looks. ) See, hes been in prison for eighteen years since he was a thirteen-year old boy. So his new life on the outside is really quite an adjustment. And Cochran plays his character as slightly emotionally stunted. He never waivers from that, and it’s always subtly evident; this is a testament to his ( very under-rated ) acting. He pulls it off. ( His dark humor in “Deadly Companions was an eye-opener as well. ) There was a boyishness to him in “Tomorrow…”. He is hurt, defensive, mistrustful. There is a sweetness to him that endeared him to me.

Now remember, he was thirteen when he went into prison eighteen years ago. When it dawned on my thick skull what that “really” meant, I confess it quickened my pulse a bit, seeing how good Cochran looks. And the first woman he falls hard for?

Brittle, hard as nails, bottle blonde Ruth Roman. Mama mia!! The poor lug doesnt know what hit him. Sometimes ten cents a dance is a high price to pay.

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Hes socially awkward, and sweet as well; and that makes for an apt pupil. She sees “something” in this young man. Uhmmmm…mostly, she sees a patsy.

A STAGEDOOR JOHNNY….WITH NO BAUBLES, BANGLES or BRAINS??

Using his prison pay, he buys her a gold-plated watch. She cant let herself be soft; its a hard cold cruel world for a blonde alone. With a twist of fate and Ruthies lies, they are now on the run.

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ON THE LAM

This is some kind of wildly subversive Hitchcockian plot twist. Not only is Cochran, ‘the wrong man’ but he think he IS the man. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” is a unique “on-the-lam” tale because shes tricked him into thinking he must run. He never wants to go back to prison, hes never really ever able to breathe comfortably, he thinks she’s going to tell on him…so hes always on edge. Not the fey-jittery-Farley Granger-edge, but a darker weightier edge. Shes actually kind of holding him hostage with her secret. You feel sorry for him.

The laughs on her when she realizes shes hitched her little caboose to a convicted murderer. Into the frying pan.

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Theyre on the lam. They change clothes and hitch rides. Theyre not out in the open. They do a lot of walking, and hopping on trains. They talk. Hes a survivor in this environment. They register in a seedy motel as man and wife with phony identities. Ruth still holds Cochran at arms length. “Dont get any ideas, Buster” is easier said than done; shes warming up to him. TOM'W ( I )In spite of herself, she slowly falls for Cochran. In an effort to disguise herself from The Law, Ruth dyes her blonde hair brunette. Yay!!! Finally! Its Ruth Roman, dark and lovely as she should be, like we know and love her. Cochrans man/boy gets plenty of ideas. After all, theyre now married ( if in name only )…it has been eighteen years…and it IS Ruth Roman. Ruth turns girlish, asks him if he likes her new hair color. He does. He likes her. He loves her. The wait is over…they really become man and wife here.

TRUST…THE BEGINNING OF LOVE

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Now a brunette, her glam toned down and her softness revealed, Ruth and Cochran catch a break by helping migrant farmers Ray Teal and wife Lurene Tuttle, one of my favorite character actresses. ( See my contribution about her for the 2014 ‘What A Character blogathon at the Once Upon A Screen blog. )  Ruth has softened considerably and Cochran seems more at ease. She’s toned down her hardness and he takes the lead a bit more in their new life together. Even if she has to scold him she never pulls out the beeyotch card, but does it a maternal wifely way. They live the life of lettuce pickers in a small itinerant California community. Whoa! This is far afield from the bright lights of a 40-watt dim and dirty dance hall, and Ruth takes to it. It was easily and subtly done to watch her warm up to Cochran and gain his trust. He begins to trust. She’s wifey now in a little wooden shack…making dinners, sewing patterns, and pregnant to boot. They’re both able to exhale.

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AS USUAL, GREED REARS ITS GREEDY, UGLY HEAD

Cochran’s true identity is discovered by Tuttle and Teal ( sounds like an old vaudeville team, doesn’t it? ) and trust begins to break down with everybody. I love Lurene Tuttle’s acting here. Her character is in conflict about a choice some might find easy to make. That she struggles with this choice, is a testimony to her.

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I have waaay more Ruth Roman films to discover, but I’ve got a good head start. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” weaves a tale of folks trapped by circumstances. Showing the growing love of two distrusting people was an added bonus for me. I heartily recommend this film to you. The Mighty Roman is in good company with other character actors and actresses who rarely get the spotlight. Want to read about ’em? Click onto Aline MacMahon. and Guy Kibbee and read about other great character actors. Start with Day 3 and work your way back to Days 1 and 2:

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26 thoughts on “RUTH ROMAN / TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY ( 1951 )

  1. Great essay as usual about one of my favorites! Tomorrow is Another Day is a hidden gem I discovered a while back. Steve Cochran was excellent in it, just like in his small role in The Best Years of Our Lives, the first film I saw him in. Now after reading your essay I’ll be adding some unseen Ruth Roman films to my queue!

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    • G’morning Kevin. Thank you so much ( you early bird, you! ) for reading and commenting on “The Mighty Roman.” She could be sweet in films, but I loved her badass tough. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” is very good. I think I didn’t expect it from Steve Cochran…just good to look at. But nope, he stays in character all throughout. I was quite a bit unsettled until Ruth became a brunette in the film. Then all seemed right with the world. Thank you again for checking out my work. 😀

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    • Hi there Kaabee. I guess we do share these things in common. And I’m happy to talk to like-minded people. Go on and say it…yeah, I live in a bubble. L0L! Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. ( And my blog… 😉 )

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  2. Tomorrow is Another Day, courtesy of Ruth and Steve, takes us on quite the emotional whirlwind. I recall not being able to relax for a second until the movie was over.

    You made me realize that for all I consider Ruth Roman an icon of the tough broad, she truly is subtle about it. Impressive. Character actor? Sure. Just think of Loretta of Loretta’s Beauty Parlor in Cabot Cove. The place where former leading ladies go to kvetch.

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    • I never really watched “Murder, She Wrote” with any regularity but am so grateful Angela Lansbury gave her actor friends a haven to perform. I think Ruth Roman is an untapped find. And I’m glad you agree. Thanks for stopping by here, Paddy.

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  3. I am so glad that you’ve covered Ruth Roman, she is such an unsung actress! Tomorrow is Another Day 1951 is such a fabulous film and the chemistry with the sultry and rugged voiced Roman with Steve Cochran. Have you seen her performance in the Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s episode WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.. with Anne Francis? It’s incredible… she did have the power to be soft and then shift into bad ass! This is great contribution WHAT A CHARACTER BLOGATHON 2016!

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    • Monstergirl…how ya doin’? Oh goosh…I don’t know the Hitchcock episode. I really want to find that now because Anne Francis is another one of my faves. The two of them together…my mind is blown. I love actors who can shift it up and down, shade those tones along the spectrum of fire and ice. Thank you so much for reading and letting me know here.

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      • Hey film maven from the couch I’m hanging in… ! I always love your featured posts. I think we have a lot of the same taste. I too love Anne Francis and the interaction between the two actresses is phenomenal. You might be able to find a few Alfred Hitchcock Hours on YouTube. It’s worth hunting it down. You’re so right about actors who can shift between fire and ice and Ruth Roman had a rugged sensuality that bubbled below the surface. Hey and if you do manage to find some Alfred Hitchcock Hours there is another intense and amazingly well acted drama/thriller with Nancy Kelly and Gena Rowlands! As far as Ruth Roman, I love all those exploitation films from the 60s and 70s so Look In Any Window is a particular favorite and well, you have to be into cult and creepy films like The Baby, it’s certainly disturbing, but somehow I still come out LOVING Roman’s portrayal of a twisted mother… Cheers Joey (MonsterGirl)

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      • EGADS! AM I DOING MY SELF A DISSERVICE NOT SUBSCRIBING TO A LOT OF BLOGS. I looked over your list of work at your blog and I see a bunch of films on your list that I’ve seen and absolutely love!

        Rugged sensuality. You hit it on the head with Ruthie, htough I wouldn’t dare try to hit her on the head. Those exploitation films, they’re creepy and they’re spooky / mysterious and…I love ’em! Thanks again. Have a very Merry Christmas!!!

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  4. I’d like to think Ruth Roman was Latina, since ‘Ro-mahn’ is the last name of many hispanics. (I’m guessing she wasn’t, tho, wishful thinking) As for hunky-boy Steve Cochran, I fell in love with him in White Heat. To me he was the quintessential tough guy I wanted to emulate during my childhood and a gay magnet, I suppose, for some guys I knew. who disdained queens.
    Keep those celluloid memories coming, Tex.

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    • I hear you Rob…about the Latina~vibe. She does look hot and fiery, doesn’t she. But yeah, she was born and raised in Massachusetts. I am loving your candor here about Steve Cochran. I’d say he’d be a hunk for any woman or man. Thanks man for taking the time here.

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  5. An enjoyable recap of this under known film. Cochran really isn’t given enough credit for his work, probably because he did so well as a thug that his more muted work fell by the wayside. His wild off camera life doubtless played into his established persona so when he did subtler work as he does here it blew by the critics and public. Another film where he is exceptional, as is his costar Ann Sheridan, is Come Next Spring which was a passion project of his about a rambler who returns home to his farmer wife after years away and tries to reestablish a bond between them. It’s a lovely film but Republic didn’t know what to do with it so they dumped it on the market and it quickly disappeared. If you haven’t seen it and can find the film it’s very worthwhile.

    However the reason we’re here is Ruth Roman. I am a HUGE fan of hers (yes she’s on my list-4 films to go!) and she is good in this and matches well with Steve. I think we feel the same way about her blonde wig at the beginning-it’s awful!! Some people just aren’t suited to certain hair colors and Roman was in no way a blonde-it’s actually a major distraction I was so glad when she switched back to her own shade. Terrific to see the acknowledgement for Lureen Tuttle-a character actress I have a great fondness for as well as Lee Patrick who was also in the cast. Also happy to see the shout out to that tower of strength Aline MacMahon.

    I’m not sure why she didn’t break through to full-fledged enduring stardom though I suspect that Warners just wasn’t sure exactly how to cast her. The result: she toiled in a lot of programmers. She projected so forcibly I think she might have come along a little too late for the type of movie that would have suited her best. She was much more similar to the women of the 30’s & 40’s cinema than the more accepted docile wifey actresses of the 50’s. Hitchcock didn’t want her for Strangers on a Train, aside from the fact that she wasn’t his signature blonde he found her “bristling” and didn’t use her to her full advantage. It didn’t hurt the film at all since it’s really the story of Guy and Hugo but I would imagine if he was fonder of her she would have been more present in the narrative.

    Glad to see you mention Lightening Strikes Twice where both she and Mercedes McCambridge are fierce. A solid interesting film.

    I just FINALLY, after decades of searching, found Three Secrets and it was sensational. The kind of experience you hope to have after trying to see something for a long time. It was loaded with soapy goodness and all three actresses just knock you out-it’s even tough to say who gives the best performance though Ruth has the flashiest role.

    Since I’m not sure what precisely you’ve seen, outside of the couple you mentioned, I’ll offer a list of her more worthwhile ones to seek out besides Three Secrets. And she is a fabulous bitch in Invitation!

    I’ll start with The Window although she’s not the main attraction-that would be the ill-fated Bobby Driscoll’s performance which is amazing-but the picture is a taut suspense film well worth you time.

    The Shanghai Story is minor but for what is essentially a programmer it has strong direction by Frank Lloyd and a very good cast including Edmond O’Brien and Richard Jaeckel who work hard to make it into something.

    Down Three Dark Streets

    Joe MacBeth-Shakespeare adapted to 50’s gangland with Paul Douglas in the lead and Ruth a version of Lady M. Not perfect but a good try.

    Rebel in Town-She made several westerns but I thought this was the best of the bunch.

    5 Steps to Danger-Ruth is a woman pursued and she’s not exactly sure why. Loved this little gem which I think contains one of her best performances too bad they didn’t cast a better actor against her than the always wooden Sterling Hayden.

    Bitter Victory-Her role is small but key plus it’s directed by Nicolas Ray and costars Richard Burton & Curd Jurgens, Christopher Lee even pops up in the supporting cast.

    Look in Any Window-This isn’t really a recommendation, it’s not a very good film, but it’s such a bizarre exploitation film with such an eclectic cast-Paul Anka! plays the lead as Ruth’s son with Alex Nicol as her husband and Gigi Perreau as their daughter, then there’s Jack Cassidy as the lech next door and on and on, that it’s fun in a train wreck kind of way.

    After that she more or less turned to television until she costarred in Love Has Many Faces or as it is often referred to Lana Has Many Costume Changes. It’s junk but a fashion parade.

    Her later theatrical films are better left unnamed but I did love her final gig as Loretta on Murder, She Wrote who ran the self named Pepto Bismol pink beauty shop where former screen queens Kathryn Grayson, Julie Adams and Gloria de Haven made occasional appearances as friends of Jessica’s.

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    • Loving your remarks and recommendations here Joel. Oh yes…she was a bitch in “INVITATION.” And I have seen the disturbing “THE BABY” and “LOOK IN ANY WINDOW.” Disturbing and unsettling. It’s a little sad to see what she wound up playing in after a good start in her career. It’s funny you mention “Murder, She Wrote” the show where Angie Lansbury invited all her friends to play. Thanks again for taking the time to read and make your very cogent comments here.

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  6. Entertaining and amazing post Theresa! 🙂 For a long time Ruth was for me only Anne Morton from Strangers on a Train, but the funny thing is that, while I was watching Arthur Kennedy’s films for this blogathon I saw 2 more of her movies: Champion and The Window. She’s a very intriguing actress and indeed deserves more attention. You really did her justice in your article.
    Don’t forget to check mine as well! 🙂 https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/what-a-character-blogathon-how-arthur-kennedy-changed-my-cinematic-life/

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  7. A terrific read, Theresa!! I love how you describe Ruthie in all her film roles and her face in the photo with McGuire is an absolute hoot!! I have even more Ruth Roman to catch up on than you do it looks like, including TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY, which I now cannot wait to see.

    Thanks so much for adding your views on this memorable actress to the What a Character! mix!!

    Aurora

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    • Aurora thank you, Kellee and Paula for hosting another in the “MUST ENTER” blogathons on the blogosphere. 😀 I’m so glad you ( got a chance to read and ) enjoyed my piece on The Mighty Roman. My goal for 2017 is to not be too long~winded in my commentary and hopefully not have too many spoilers in my telling the tale. I really hope you watch “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.” I think this movie’ll be right up your alley as I think MYSTERY STREET was a discovery for you. Thanks for letting me haul my ol’ couch to the partaaay. So many great entries every year for you three. Thank you!

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    • Hello there Le. Thanks so much for reading and taking the moment to drop a comment. Margaret Dumont, ey? So clever of you to count her as the FIFTH Marx Brother. I’ll take a gander as soon as I can. Thanks again.

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  8. “Sometimes ten cents a dance is a high price to pay.” I learned a ton from this post, Theresa, especially that I need to watch more Ruth Roman movies. Thank you for participating in the ‘thon!

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  9. Yes, why on earth wasn’t Ruth Roman a bigger star?! For pete sake!

    As for “Tomorrow is Another Day”, it looks like it can be streamed online, and I’ll be bookmarking that site. Thanks for a great read, and the introduction to this film.

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