Hold Back Tomorrow (1955)

Hold Back Tomorrow (1955)

“He wants to have some fun. Music, dancing — y’know. To kill time.”

As his final request, a death-row prisoner named Joe (John Agar) asks for a girl to be sent to his cell. When a suicidal prostitute named Dora (Cleo Moore) shows up, Joe is at first disappointed — but soon the two misfits realize they have more in common than they thought, and a last-minute romance ensues.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Arc
  • Hugo Haas Films
  • John Agar Films
  • Prisoners
  • Prostitutes and Gigolos

In this character-driven romance, director Hugo Haas tells a simple, occasionally derivative, but ultimately touching story of two lonely souls finding love at the brink of death. Moore (who starred in no less than seven of Haas’s films) gives one of her best performances as Dora, a woman so weary of life she barely reacts to the worst insults; Agar is much less impressive, but serves as a suitable foil for Moore — the true protagonist of the film. Haas’s dialogue occasionally descends into outright camp, as in the following melodramatic exchange later in the film:

Joe: “Shut up, you crazy dame! What are you trying to do?”
Dora: “I’m trying to help you — help you, you fool!”

but more often is simple and quiet, befitting the film’s low budget and lack of special effects. While no masterpiece, Hold Back Tomorrow fits squarely within the realm of Haas’s unusual B-level oeuvre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Cleo Moore as Dora
  • An effective tale of romance between two misfits

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for fans of Hugo Haas’s work.


One thought on “Hold Back Tomorrow (1955)

  1. First viewing. Not a must, but fierce ffs won’t be bored.

    Generally in agreement with the assessment. ‘HBT’ essentially plays out like a 2-character play since we spend most of the 75 min. with Agar and Moore. Agar tends to overact the guy-on-Death-Row bit; and since I’m not that familiar with Moore’s work, I can’t say if this is one of her best.

    With her mix of fed-up with the world/wanting to encourage Agar, Moore rather reminds me of a mix of Jane Fonda in ‘They Shoot Horses…’ and Anne Jackson in ‘The Tiger Makes Out’.

    Her lines kind of follow suit, going from:

    “People wanna see a smiling face, no matter how crooked it is.”


    “I’d like to write a poem about the miracle of tears and a smile.”

    ‘HBT’ gets points for originality but it is an odd duck, with an esp. odd ending.

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