Sunday, October 25, 2009

Susan Hayward, in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman
approximately 68 minutes and 56 seconds
68% of the film

The film

The fictional story of Angie Evans, a nightclub singer who interrupts her career to marry struggling songwriter Ken Conway. As he discovers success, she turns into an alcoholic, gradually destroying her life.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

It’s a soap opera, but because Susan is great, the film is easy to sit through. When I expected it to go for giant clichés, it stepped a bit back and that was good.

Susan Hayward as Angie Evans

For a long time, I almost didn’t know who Susan Hayward was. I always confused her: first, because I wasn’t familiar with her movies, none that would have a reputation or that I had seen and second of all… well, because years ago I wasn’t as informed as I am today :) my first reason, however, is justified. Susan Hayward is a 5 times Best Actress nominee and she actually won for 1958. But why isn’t she more recognizable? Maybe because her films haven’t aged well, or because she never had a true movie hit! Whatever reason, I’m glad to finally discover her, cause boy does she deliver…

Susan plays Angie Evans, a night club singer who marries the guy she loves and gives up the career for family life. But as her husband becomes a famous singer, she begins to foolishly doubt her marriage and turn to heavy drinking as a confidence boost. The role sounds like TV drama, and it probably is, but because Susan is the one who plays it, she can take the shaky writing and give it life, like few can.

There are a couple of achievements in her performance, other than simply lifting & carrying the entire film. The most obvious acting excellence is the accuracy of playing a drunk. She would later be typecast in such a role, probably because she made it look so believable. Susan looks so natural with the glass in her hand. And even though the screenplay is pretty thin on making us understand reasons, Susan allows us to discover Angie’s insecurities and put a face on this bad habit.

When she’s ready for a drink or talking about how to make one, you can feel the passion in her words and most of all: the thirst! Susan understands the addiction and always gives us proof of the struggle! Sometimes drinking makes Angie a lighter person, someone who cracks jokes and doesn’t realize the visible effect that alcohol has on her. In other scenes, you can feel the desperation that sober Angie goes through; so the accuracy is fantastic, I guarantee that. Any other actress might’ve made it all look like a joke or a caricature, but Susan understands Angie or at least relates to feelings of desperation, anxiety, insecurity and always regret.

Another thing Susan does great in use her sweetness and cute looks to give some kind of likeability to the character. She sets the grounds for understanding the character and by doing so, she can also use her face and charm to make us like her, excuse her drinking, justify for her and in the end hope that she can beat it and not end tragically. I hate drunks, but because Susan makes it believable and goes deep into the character to tell us what her motivation is, I felt for her and somehow understood her action every time she reached for the bottle. As a viewer, I shared the struggle.

Susan gets to play a mother, a wife, a singer (great lip-synching) and the role of her life: a hard-drinking woman. Angie might get smashed-up, but Susan is always in control of the character, lifting it from a standard writing to a human being. The performance is not perfection, nor the most demanding role ever: but because Susan makes it look so believable, you can’t help but admire the talent and get caught in the story of a woman. Undoubtedly at least . Nicely done.

***I had to go mostly for close-up photos because of the image quality. The rest of them will have the usual good quality.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

At least a four...does that mean your were toying with the idea of going higher?

Alex in Movieland said...

well, it's really hard to find flaws in this performance. It might be standard to some, but to me it was touching (among other things).

Fritz said...

I think that overacting, if done rightly, can be good. Susan was a master at overacting (in a good way).