PopOptiq Podcasts, features, reviews and more on Film, TV, Comics and Pop Culture in general. Edna (June Vincent) and her much older husband Sam Grover (Wallace Ford) have cooked what they believe is the perfect plan to live happily together with a handsome sum. Shed No Tears, directed by Jean Yarbrough is the sort of lark with which the viewer can have a lot of fun provided they can temper their expectations to a certain extent.
Jean Yarbrough pulls out as many stops as he can to provide the endeavor with all the panache he can muster from the director’s chair. Another aspect that deserves mention is the cast, who put in at times particularly theatrical, calculated performances. Nearly everyone, that is, save Johnston White as the foreign born private detective who tries to swindle a fair number of potential victims throughout the picture.
There are equally strange moments when Yarbrough’s film errs for the briefest of moments in utter comedy.
Shed No Tears is bereft of any singular identity when contrasted against other thriller of the period. Edgar is a Montreal based film blogger that has been writing for PopOptiq (formerly Sound on Sight) since December of 2011. John Woo is frequently credited with reinventing Hong Kong cinema thanks to his distinctive, bombastic take on the action genre, but the roots of his career lie firmly within the traditions of the HK studio industry. This is the vengeful, now one-eyed colonel who remains on the trail of the mercenaries for the rest of the film, subsisting on in-the-field injections of morphine, coaxing the headhunting savages with painted faces to hunt down his prey, and doing devilish things like kidnapping Kenny, trapping him in a ring of fire, and then driving away laughing assuming the boy is done for.
What the film does have is guts, an almost reckless desire to blow the audience away that makes it nonetheless an intensely enjoyable experience, especially in contrast to Woo’s more recent, utterly safe output.
We don’t do comments anymore, but you may contact us here or find us on Twitter or Facebook. Not Coming to a Theater Near You is a film resource that assumes a bias towards older, often unpopular, and sometimes unknown films that merit a second look. Despite that Sam’s career floundered, his insurance is an enviable amount, hence they opt to fake the husband’s death to in order for Edna claim the bounty of 50,000$ before meeting up with hubby in Mexico. There are no major stars of the era and the overall plot has a ring of familiarity, what with a series of characters all trying to pull the strings behind one another’s back with their eyes on the ultimate prize. No Tears, despite not benefiting from any restoration process other more notorious classics of the era have in recent years, has a fantastic look to it.

It makes one wonder if the filmmakers involved had taken some notes when viewing other genre entries of the time and subsequently directed the actors to play their parts by emulating popular styles. As in Born to Kill, which also features a streetwise detective who was clearly from the same parts as the other main characters, Huntington Stewart is a completely different ball of wax, even more so than the private dick in Born to Kill.
His film related interests included film noir, martial arts cinema, a lot of what plays at the Fantasia Film Festival and, more than anything else, James Bond.
Before the enormous breakout success of his 1986 film A Better Tomorrow, Woo worked his way up from production assistant at Cathay Studios and Shaw Brothers to assistant director under master kung-fu director Chang Cheh before he turned to directing. Somewhere in the jungles of the Golden Triangle, which straddles the borders of Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Vietnam, a corrupt, drug-running general lurks, plying his evil trade with an army of expendable guards. The precise reason for their presence in the film is a little mystifying – it seems they live nearby?
There is an unbelievable amount of shooting, much of it from an unpleasantly short range: several times to the head, once to the butt. Indeed, while Heroes Shed No Tears successfully paves Woo’s entry in the modern action genre, it still lacks many of the distinctive traits of his best work. What Sam fails to realize is that Edna already has another beau, Ray Belden (Mark Roberts), with whom she actually intends to split the money. Yarbrough brings a lot of style to the lighting and editing, specifically with fade ins and outs, such as when Sam, away in Washington as he impatiently awaits his wife’s arrival, reads a letter she has sent him, with the two images of Sam reading the letter and his POV of the letter itself bleed into each other in the same shot as June Vincent’s salacious voice over narrates the text to the audience. In that regard, some of the performances almost have a forced feel to them, but never so much as it comes across as an utter farce either, thus finding an unexpected middle ground between earnestness and parody. White injects the part with such aristocratic pomposity, such cockiness that it becomes next to impossible to actually dislike him. There are even moments when the viewer is invited to empathize with some of these pitiful souls, such as when Sam finally learns of Edna’s treachery. His first film, the independently produced martial-arts film Young Dragons, soon gave way to a contract with the legendary Golden Harvest Productions, where he directed over a dozen films: some martial-arts films and Cantonese operas, but mainly comedies. Somewhere nearby, a small group of mercenaries led by bad-ass family man Chan Chung (played by the steely-eyed Eddie Ko) prepares to attack. Woo shot the film in Thailand with a ragtag crew who were, it seems, largely mercenaries themselves, and according to the director, the special-effects technicians, such as they were, helped cut costs and save value production time by using live ammunition instead of squibs. Complicating matters is, first, Sam’s son Tom (Dick Hogan) who refuses to believe the police report concluding that his father’s death was accidental.

What it lacks it originality of plot it truly makes up for through sheer energy of the cast and acute visual eye from the director, sometimes in rather unexpected ways, therefore making Shed No Tears (which is a very cool title, by the way) an extremely pleasant surprise.
Other attractively stylish moments that juggle impressionistic light and shadow, such as when Tom, increasingly flustered and doubtful of the private eye’s trustworthiness, slaps the latter around, an attack only seen as shadows dancing against a nearby wall. The unique tone is set from the very first scene when Sam and Edna drive away after setting a hotel room on fire as part of their scheme to fake Sam’s death. When the nonchalantly saying the place is now vacant, one of the surrounding officers claims it as just the sort of place he was looking for and asks his captain permission to talk to the landlord privately. Poignantly enough, it is less the fact that she plans to keep the money for herself that pains him and more that she never loved him to begin with. Kenny, in particular, poses various problems: he frequently sheds tears and occasionally endangers skin-of-the-teeth getaways by needing to pee. Woo had not yet found his foothold nor the slick, urban style that would make him stand out from his contemporaries. In this instance, he claims, no one was hurt, but there are so many fiery explosions set off in the film that there must have been more than a few singed eyebrows.
Yarbrough was by no means a household name (perhaps best known for directing a decidedly loony 1940 Bela Lugosi vehicle, The Devil Bat), nor may the mention that he directed this effort stir the passions of many a cinephile, but this particular film definitely is evidence of his gusto. A lot of the dialogue, specifically when they part ways, sounds like the sort of lines that have been exchanged in a million other thriller between lovers, yet June Vincent and Wallace Ford are so good at saying them that the lack of originality matters little. Wryly funny and instrumental in building up the film’s themes of greed and mistrust, Huntington Stewart is a one of a kind creation, not exactly belonging in any universe so why not simply enjoy him as he weasels his way around in this one.
The viewer may not care all that much for these people, although the film strives to make their escapade as entertaining as possible. Sports are also of interest, most notably Arsenal (BPL), the Oakland Raiders (NFL), the Boston Celtics (NBA), Montreal Canadiens (NHL) and the San Francisco Giants (MLB).
Soon, after a wealth of voluptuous, slow-motion detonations and blithe pile-up of a couple of dozen corpses, the mercenaries are underway, having kidnapped the big boss with Chinese finger traps and a gun to the head, and fleeing headlong into the jungle, with the bad guys in hot pursuit. His spirit of self-sacrifice, a crucial trait for any Woo hero, is never more boldly on display than when he is saving Kenny from any number of abductions or not-so-certain deaths.

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