TOMORROW WE LIVE (director: Edgar G. Ulmer; screenwriter: Bart Lytton; cinematographer: John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.; editor: Dan Milner; music: Leo Erdody; cast: William Marshall (Lt. Bob Lord), Emmett Lynn (Pop Bronson), Jean Parker (Julie Bronson), Ricardo Cortez (The Ghost-Alexander Caesar Martin), Roseanne Stevens (Melba), Frank S. Hagney (Kohler), Ray Miller (Chick); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Seymour Nebenzal; Producers Releasing Corporation; 1942)
“The film’s best feature is its short length.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This B-film crime thriller directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (“Detour”) for PRC is a mess, an exercise in futility. The film’s best feature is its short length. I admire that the shoestring budget film still miraculously came out looking as visually good as any Hollywood film, but the narrative is a real stinker. One always wonders if Ulmer was given a big budget to work with, how good his films would be.
Julie Bronson (Jean Parker) returns to her elderly father’s diner in the Arizona desert from college without a degree after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend Bob Lord (William Marshall) and argues with her father about why he’s so secretive about the sheds on his property. She’s worried that a criminal called the Ghost (Ricardo Cortez) seems to have control over her Pop’s (Emmett Lynn) life. The plucky gal confronts the Ghost in his swanky nightclub called The Dunes, as the Ghost tries to mesmerize Julie with both charm and fear tactics. He first gets her to sympathize with his repressed good side and informs her he will die within a short time because of ill health. But when Julie rejects the Ghost after he kisses her, he maniacally tells her that he was named the Ghost because he can’t die. Twice the Ghost was left for dead with bullets inside him, but recovered and ruthlessly overcame his opponents rising from poverty to become a crime lord in the desert. The Ghost shows Julie files he keeps on associates and includes the file he has on her. He tells Julie he wants her to be his wife, and the Ghost always gets what he wants.
The Ghost in the meantime is currently involved in a gang fight over turf with his rival Big Charlie, who sends his henchman Kohler to force a business deal.
Back at the diner, where a sign says Ham ‘n’ Eggs 25 cents, Bob pays a surprise visit when Julie is out, telling Pop he enlisted as an officer in the army and wants to get back again with his daughter. They get together that night and dine at The Dunes, where they have a nasty confrontation with the Ghost. It results in Bob getting Julie to accept his marriage proposal, but when the Ghost finds out he gets real ugly in his visit to Julie. The Ghost is only stopped from doing further harm when Big Charlie’s two henchmen appear to escort him to a forced business meeting in the desert and a fracas ensues.
Julie is finally let in on the hold the crime boss has over her reformed ex-convict father, who we learn is an escapee from prison. She does her best to stop the Ghost from further blackmailing her father and making him an unwilling partner in his black market scheme of selling stolen rubber tires he stores in the sheds. In a later scene, the Ghost rants like an egotistical madman and is compared to Hitler by good guy Bob, who lectures the Ghost on how Bob and all the other ‘little guys’ will rally together to defeat someone evil like the Ghost. After being told off, the Ghost utters “I’m the Ghost, nobody kills me.” The fun might be in guessing who kills the psycho, or why was such a silly film made.
REVIEWED ON 9/20/2004 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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