Saturday, March 10, 2012

Film Review: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947)

Photo Courtesy of
TCMDb: A singer's wife turns to the bottle when she fears she's lost her husband to success.

    Sometimes the subject of a film leaves me a little weary. There are some subject matters that are just hard to watch, and that is exactly what Problem Pictures were all about. "Problem Pictures" are films such as The Lost Weekend and The Snake Pit--pictures that addressed the problems of the day such as alcohol and insane aslyums. Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman is one of the best of those problem pictures.
     Loosely based off of singer Dixie Lee's life, Bing Crosby's first wife, Smash-Up lets you know in the very first scene that something very serious has occured, and that it was not something that just happened, but rather something that has been built up into something overpowering, controlling, and relentless. We know from the very first scene that Angelica Evans, Susan Hayward, has hit rock bottom. We just don't know why.
     By the second scene, however, we do: Alcohol. It's the devil's drink. It has ruined the lives of many men--and women.
     I have not seen too many of Susan Hayward's films, but I know that she was one of the greatest actresses during the Golden Age of Hollywood--and of any othe time for that matter. For some unknown reason to me, however, she is not as well remembered today as such actresses as Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. This film, out of many of her works, prove that she should be. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress (the first of five nominations).
Eddie and Susan.
Photo Courtesy of
     From the very beginning, this film grabbed be by the throat and refused to let me go. I felt for Susan throughout the whole film. Her happiness in the very beginning when she and Ken Carraway, portrayed by Lee Bowman, married and had their daughter, I felt her fear when she began to take up alcohol after her husband had become a success and she was afraid she was losing him, and I felt her anger when she knew she had hit rock bottom but she didn't know how to get back on top.
Thatta Girl, Susan!
Photo Courtesy of
     Eddie Albert also co-stars in this film as Steve Nelson, Bowman's best friend, and the single person that doesn't give up on Angelica. I've always liked Eddie Albert and he gives a fine performance. Marsha Hunt, who plays Martha
Gray, Ken Carraway's secretary, gave a fine performance as the woman who's unrequited love for Ken makes her a true *puts hand over mouth to muffle explicit word*. I detested her throughout the whole film, and even when she breaks down toward the end and tells Ken and Steve why she acts the way she does, I still can't forgive her. The picture of Angelica going at Martha during a party is one of my favorite scenes in the whole film. Given the fact that Angelica was drunk by the time this scene occured really shows how good she give it to a woman that had the audactiy to try and steal her man from her (she saw right through Martha. What woman wouldn't?).
    I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and one can safely bet that it's on my list of films to own. It's a must see for anyone, no matter if you're a fan of Susan Hayward's or not. It's a powerful film and one that no would should miss out on seeing. I give this a 3.5/4 star rating.

No comments: