SHED NO TEARS. Eagle-Lion, 1948. Wallace Ford, June Vincent, Mark Roberts, Dick Hogan, Elena Verdugo, Johnstone White. Screenplay by Brown Holmes and Virginia Cook, based on the novel by Don Martin. Directed by Jean Yarbrough.

   I gotta find out more about this Don Martin. I first encountered his work as one of the writers of a thoughtful B-Western Arrow in the Dust, and now it seems he was the author of the source novel for this superior B-Noir. But just try Googling “Don Martin” and see if you get any further than I did.

   Tears opens fast, with Wallace Ford faking his own death in a hotel fire, conniving with his young and sexy wife (June Vincent) to disappear until she collects the insurance money,then boarding a bus to DC — whereupon she meets with her boyfriend and starts making plans to skip to Mexico, all this in about ten minutes of a seventy-minute movie.

   The next hour isn’t quite as fast, but it takes some agreeable twists and turns as Wally chomps at the bit waiting to hear from his faithless wife, while his son (Dick Hogan, who would go on to star in the first few seconds of Hitchcock’s Rope later that same year) gets the idea Dad was murdered, and his girlfriend puts him in touch with a Private Eye.

   And it’s here where Shed No Tears gets truly memorable. Johnstone White’s portrayal of PI Huntington Stewart is one of those B-Movie moments when a capable actor finds himself in a great part: venal, effeminate, treacherous and smooth, Stewart is one of the finest characterizations in all of noir, and his machinations as he tries to play both ends for profit make the whole thing unforgettable.

   Mr. White never got a part that good again, and June Vincent, so promising in Black Angel (1946) spent the rest of her career in B-movies and Television. Damn shame. Tears never completely transcends its B-movie roots — Jean Yarbrough’s flat-footed direction and Eagle-Lion’s penurious purse guarantee that — but it has that spark of originality that makes it worth seeing.