My current Top 5

My current Top 5

2/07/2010

Best Actress 1947: Susan Hayward in "Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman"

Susan Hayward received her first Oscar nomination for her role as Angelica Conway, a nightclub entertainer who interrupts her career to marry an upcoming songwriter and singer but soon she becomes dependent on alcohol and nearly ruins her marriage and her life with her excessive drinking.

Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman is an average, melodramatic “serious” movie from the 40s. It begins with the image of Angelica, lying in a bed in hospital with almost her whole head bandaged. She mumbles unconsciously and without wasting any precious seconds, the screen becomes blurred and the obligatory flashback story begins.

It’s very clear right from the start that this is a movie about drinking as we see a busy night club and the camera focuses on a glass full of liquor and then follows that glass carried by a waiter to a woman hiding behind a curtain. Angelica empties the glass in one take and then she walks onto the stage to give a tremendous performance that she keeps repeating in various locations and turns her into a rising star which is done very convincingly by Miss Hayward.

In the first scene that shows Angelica drinking Susan Hayward carefully avoids to show Angelica as a drunk in any way. Instead, it seems that she only needs a little drink to give herself enough courage to go “out there” and perform in front of an audience. Nothing else is suggested by the movie or Susan Hayward’s performance at this point.

The movie then takes the typical route and shows a time when a woman would immediately terminate her career once she met the right guy and could becomes a housewife and mother. She does keep working for a while tough because the career of her husband Ken starts rather shaky.

Up to this point, Susan Hayward did a very convincing job in creating a woman who is both exotic nightclub performer and devoted housewife because there is something about her looks and her acting that can always suggest both parts of this character. And Susan Hayward’s radiant looks and her beautiful face also brighten up every close-up and she is the only source of energy and life among the wooden cast.

Life for Angelica seems to be a never-ending joy once a child is born and Ken’s career finally begins to take off but trouble seems to be on its way when she needs to take a glass of alcohol before she can join her husband at a party. Again, at this point it doesn’t seem that she is a drinker – she tells her maid that she feels the same way she did before she had to go on a stage, afraid. When the maid ask her afraid of what, Angelica just answers “People, I guess.”

Susan Hayward does a great job in portraying that Angelica apparently doesn’t seem able to handle big gatherings, she shows that she feels out-of-place at parties that celebrate her husband and she starts to get suspicious of Ken’s new female assistant. All these insecurities seem to be the deciding factor that slowly turn her occasional drinking into an addiction.

Susan Hayward plays all the parts of her role with beautiful subtlety and even in her most desperate or drunken situations she never overdoes it. She believably shows what effect alcohol has on her life and her behavior and she is also able to make this behavior understandable. She clearly shows what causes her irrational actions and how Angelica is always torn between knowing that she is destroying everything she loves and not being able to stop it.

Overall, it’s a very effective and memorable performance that gets

8 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

I like this one too :)

Sage Slowdive said...

This is kinda random Fritz, but are your bottom supporting winners in your ranking still the same?

Fritz said...

I think so...I'm not sure if they are still in the same order, but I doubt that anyone of them would get up...
I plan to post my ranking here someday...

Sage Slowdive said...

I hope so :D

It still urkes me that Anjelica Huston and Lee Grant were in the very bottom :/

Fritz said...

Hmm, to be honest, I doubt that their position will change much...

Sage Slowdive said...

lol, well I figured.

I thought Lee Grant was brilliant, but her win seems to be on of the most hated.

Fritz said...

I don't hate her win because I don't think that she was bad. It's just that she didn't do anything extraordinary (in my opinion)

Sage Slowdive said...

Aww, it's alright ;D

I do like most of those bottom ones of your ranking (Grant, Huston, Geena Davis, Ruth Gordon, Whoopi)