Lady Drinks the Booze: Our Critics Look at Smash-Up and I’ll Cry Tomorrow

David Fox: Cameron, as you know, this particular project felt like it had a special augury from the often-surprising world of Facebook. In November 2020, at just the point we began discussing pairing these two famous films, the FB Susan Hayward Fanclub—of which I am, of course, a member (note to readers: you should be too; the photos alone are worth it!)—featured a post from no less than Tim Barker, Hayward’s son! It included a wonderful candid photo, along with his clearly loving description: “My Mom at her home… around 1966… Cigarette in hand and Jack Daniels Black Label in the glass beside her…” There are many intriguing similarities (as well as some considerable differences) in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, and I’ll Cry Tomorrow. Both star Hayward playing female chanteuses; both also feature Eddie Albert; and of course, both are fundamentally about alcoholism and recovery. But what really attracted us was Hayward’s searing, almost shockingly unsparing central performances, which earned her two of her five Academy Award nominations. And indeed, she’s a wonder to watch in both movies—by turns defiant, angry, maudlin, repentant, hopeful, and everything in between. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: nobody hits rock bottom like Susan Hayward.

Cameron Kelsall: Hayward, of course, would win an Oscar on her fifth try, for I Want to Live!—which we’ve already discussed. And in many ways, it’s not surprising. Her performance there is big and showy, and it’s Oscar-bait material of both the weepy and politically minded kind. But I’d venture that she does her best work ever in these two films—especially Smash-Up, which strikes me as a surprisingly nuanced exploration of alcohol disorder, particularly from a woman’s perspective. Anyone who might peg Hayward as a second-rate actor needs to watch these movies and consider her layered, complicated performances. And honestly, the fact she lost the Oscar to Loretta Young for The Farmer’s Daughter is, frankly, a load of horseshit…

Click here to read the full article on Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, Movies, PARTERRE BOX

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