I agree with the points mentioned in the last postings from Ginger and Gloria. It has brought something to mind.
Filmwriter Ian Cameron when discussing the phenomena of the rise of the "bad girls" in the 40's on screen, grouped actresses such as Rita Hayworth, Linda Darnell, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Jean Peters, Joan Crawford and similar into a category he called "dames". Their screen personae were usually treacherous and double dealing.( One could add Lizabeth Scott, Mary Astor, Jane Greer etc).
The flip side (or sunny side) to the "up to no good" dames were June Allyson, Olivia De Havilland, Judy Garland, Margaret Sullavan, Dorothy McGuire, Greer Garson etc.
Customarily, once these stars were in orbit they remained relatively fixed in their 'types'.
However, because Susan Hayward tended to change considerably, and from one role to the next, could cross the moral spectrum from black to white, she defied easy categorization.
Regardless, she was utterly convincing in either and it adds further to the realization of her skill in acting.
I agree with your assessment of Hayward's versatility.
She could go from sweet, gracious "Jane Froman" to evil Messalina in a blink of an eye and no one would "blink an eye"...she was totally believable. In fact, these contrasts were expected of her. She was different.. that's for sure. I also loved her work so much in "The President's Lady." She was at the peak of her career--so well known for her physical beauty, and she opted for a role where she would be shown as a frail, old woman--however, a strong an admirable one. I was reading in Kim Holston's book this week
"Susan Hayward" (this book has very few redeeming qualities but it does have a FEW..)--some lines from that book support your thoughts on the Hayward that can't be classified (or outclassed, I might add!)...Here's what Holston says: "Versatality was also a Hayward hallmark. When she began making films in the late 1930's, the classical Hollywood studio system was operating at peak efficiency. Great numbers of films were made, and there was no onus placed on performers who made films in various genres. Even if those actors objected, they were under contract and nixed roles at the perils of suspension. Throughout her career Hayward proved her worth as Biblical femme fatale, Roman temptress, hearty pioneer (on two continents), antebellum aristocrat, resilient torch singer,brazen B girl, and street-smart denizen of the modern urban jungle."
I agree with you, Ginger, that Susan was at the peak of her career when she made "The President's Lady." It's one of my favorite films, although I always thought it would have been even better in color.
Did I ever mention on your website that PBS has done a program on Andrew Jackson and they've used scenes from the film in it? Have you seen it? If not, be sure to watch out for it in your area.
I do remember that someone had mentioned that on the message board.. it was either you or Cathy, I think. I did watch the program and saw the scenes. It's probably been about a year since I've seen it. I love the soundtrack music in The President's Lady.