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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Smash-up ~ The Story of a Woman

Buddy B loves this 1947 film and not as a camp classic. Written by Dorothy Parker (yes, the Dorothy Parker!), this is a nascient feminist movie. Smash-up ~ The Story of a Woman is a dark, unsentimental film with a harrowing, unforgettable climax. Nothing's better than Hayward when she's wayward, as she is in this film directed by Stuart Heisler who directed many of Hollywood's "women's films" of the 1940s and '50s. Smash-up was actually subversive in its day, luring ladies in as a tear-jerker but delivering a much stronger, progressive message about forfeiting your career and identity in a marriage.

Single Susan has a singing career. Before her performances at the clubs (film is largely set in NYC where a lot of the outdoor filming takes place), she bolsters her nerves with a drink. That's how it starts; one little stinky-poo and she's on her way to all-day cocktails and burning down the house.

She is wooed and wed by handsome and debonair Lee Bowman. They have a baby. Lee, a songwriter in this film, becomes a celebrity crooner on the radio and a recording star. Hayward, typical of the time, gives up her promising career and becomes a stay at home housewife. This is, of course, enough to drive anyone to drink. Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker our anti-hero discovers. (The story is reputedly based on Bing Crosby's marriage with his first wife.)

Ladies, please take note: If you find yourself in the powder room and Susan Hayward should enter, get out of there immediately. Because, faster than you can say "hold my earrings," all hell's about to break loose. It happened in Valley of the Dolls and it happens in Smash-up.

Marsha Hunt works with Bowman a bit too closely, perhaps, at the studio. When the tipsy Ms Hayward confronts her in the ladies room with the line, "Look at you. Not a hair out of place," you just know she's going for that hair. Oh, yes, catfight lovers, don't miss this!

Eddie Albert (Green Acres) is in this. He plays Susan's platonic male friend and pianist. He assayed a similar role in I'll Cry Tomorrow, Susan's other big alky blow-out portrayal.

There are some great songs in this film, especially the haunting "Life Can Be Beautiful." Susan Hayward was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in this film and the screenplay received a nomination as well..

Ah, the lush life!

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