Smash-Up, The Story of a Woman (March, 1947)
Released in March, 1947: Torch singer Angel Evans had it all - money, fame, and a handsome man, but when her man found his own fame, she lost everything that gave her reason to live.
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Dorothy Parker, Frank Cavett, Lionel Wiggam and John Howard Lawson.
The Actors: Susan Hayward (Angelica 'Angie' 'Angel' Evans), Lee Bowman (Ken Conway), Marsha Hunt (Martha Gray, Elliott's secretary), Eddie Albert (Steve Nelson), Carl Esmond (Dr. Lorenz), Carleton Young (Fred Elliott), Charles D. Brown (Mike Dawson), Janet Murdoch (Miss Kirk, Baby Angelica's nurse), Sharyn Payne (Angelica 'Angel' Conway), Robert Shayne (Mr. Gordon), Ernie Adams (Charley the waiter),Erville Alderson (farmer at the fire), Fred Aldrich (doorman at the nighclub), Carol Andrews (female photographer), Sam Ash (party guest), Brooks Benedict (celbrant with Mr. Gordon), Larry J. Blake (radio station emcee), Paul Bradley (Mike's companion), Ralph Brooks (clerk), Fred Browne (bartender), Virginia Carroll (woman), Douglas Carter (hotel manager), Tom Chatterton (Edwards, Ken's butler), Dorothy Christy (party guest), Eddie Coke (news photographer), James Conaty (party guest), James Craven (Sam Winsley), Sayre Dearing (party guest), Matt Dennis (announcer), Laurie Douglas (singer at the Raven Club), Cecil Elliott (matron), Alice Fleming (Miss Tierman), Bess Flowers (inquisitive party guest), Charles Flynn (news photographer), Cay Forester (young woman), Joan Fulton (voice of Angelica as a baby), Phil Garris (bellhop), William Gould (the judge), Sherry Hall (cab driver), Beatrice Gray (nurse), Bert Howard (poker player), Eddie Kane (party guest), Peg La Centra (Angie's singing voice), Connie Leon (Mary, Angie's maid), Carl M. Leviness (party guest), Willene Luckett (baby in crib), Wilbur Mack (radio commentator), Caren Marsh (Bobby-Soxer), Thomas Martin (waiter), George Meeker (Wolf, an attorney), Harold Miller (party guest), Ralph Montgomery (doorman), Frances Morris (Mrs. Benton, baby's nurse), Noel Neill (girl at party), Vivien Oakland (woman at bar), Steve Olsen (bartender), Alexander Pollard (waiter), George Ramsey (cab driver), Ed Randolph (cab driver), Joe Recht (Jimmy, elevator boy), Ruth Sanderson (Maggie), Jeffrey Sayre (poker player), Lee Shumway (Benson, doorman), Milburn Stone (Raven Club announcer), John Valentine (Dr. Forbes), Robert Verdaine (Maitre d'), Joseph Vitale (poker player), William Wagner (waiter with trash), John Wald (radio announcer on cowboy singing show), Ethel Wales (farmer's wife at the fire).
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This is one of those 'Full Employment' movies, with a cast of . . . it seems . . . thousands? Well, maybe not thousands, but a bunch! If you are a Susan Hayward fan, this is possibly one of her best performances. Her range of emotions and acting passion are without peer in this tragic tale. Ms. Hayward plays the part of Angie Evans, a torch singer of some fame in the big city. Lee Bowman plays Ken Conway, the man she loves more than anything in the world, including her famous career. Eddie Albert is the good friend Steve, who just wants everyone to get along. Marsha Hunt, oh, Marsha! She is the 'other woman,' - younger, more energetic, eager to please, Ken's right hand, so to speak. If you look closely, you can also spot Noel Neill, Superman's Lois Lane in the 1950's tv show, and Milburn Stone, the doc on the Gunsmoke tv series, and the wonderful Bess Flowers, who was in more movies than most marquee stars.
As the movie opens, we see Angie in a hospital bed with her head wrapped almost totally in bandages, muttering in a trance-like state, possibly near death. But then we go back in time, to the beginning of this tragic soap opera. Angie is on top of the world. She is the hottest singer in the city, in great demand and earning a ton of money. Her struggling, aspiring singer boyfriend means more to her than her career, so she quits to marry Ken and have a baby. Steve, Ken's best friend and pianist and song writer hangs out with them and is the fellow that we all want to have as a best friend. After some struggling, Ken finally gets a job singing cowboy songs on the radio at six in the morning. It is probably the lowest job on the totem pole of radio fame, but it pays the bills. As Angie is in the hospital having their baby, Ken breaks tradition and instead of singing a cowboy song, he breaks into the love song that he and Angie share. The phones go wild after the song, and his cowboy days at six in the morning are over. He is given increasingly better radio shows, and then syndicated around the country. The 1940's 'Bobby-Soxers' are wild about Ken. With his fame and fortune, the work-a-holic singer is able to provide Angie with everything she ever wanted . . . except him. Servants, maids, nanny's - there is nothing left for her to fill her days with, and Ken is never around, so she finds solace in the bottle.
As time passes, Ken's assistant Martha takes an increasing role in Ken's life, doing everything for him up to and including buying the gifts that he gives to Angie. Thanks to a wonderfully written script, we and Angie see Martha as the woman that fills Ken's needs, while Angie sits at home with nothing to do but drink. So we have work-a-holic Ken, without any time or regard for an alcoholic wife that increasingly meant less and less in his life. Finally they break up, and Ken takes baby Angela, which is the last straw for Angie. Her downward spiral goes out of control, and as our popcorn gets soggy from our tears, she falls even farther away from happiness. The only question left is how the authors will end this tale of woe. And that, my dear friends, is for you to find out . . . the journey is a bitter-sweet one, but one well worth taking, to appreciate the amazing depth of acting talent that Susan Hayward shares with us.