Click the above link. This is today's New York Times.
Thanks for letting us know about the review. Oddly enough I had just viewed the NYT Web site this morning but did not check the new DVDs section.
While I enjoyed the review, I thought he gave some backhanded compliments about Susan's acting and overall persona. I know I could have written a better review! The reader comments on Amazon are much more perceptive. Check it out.
Yes I also thought that, at least in a couple of references anyway. The problem with that sort of perception displayed by the Reviewer, is that it does not take into account the profound differences in acting styles that have been evident over the century of cinema.
No one would seriously compare acting in silents to that in talkies, because the medium had changed so significantly. Similarly with the concept of classically trained actors (via the stage and accepted film acting coaches and teachers) as opposed to the Stanislavsky method acting graduates.
Quite different styles of delivery and interpretation.
For Susan Hayward's era, her acting style was powerful and demonstrated strong character interpretation. But for a reviewer in 2007 who may well be comparing it the delivery of say a Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett, it undeservedly gets the term 'excessive'.
By today's standards, the lion's share of Bette Davis' work would be classed as 'excessive'. Or look at Anne Baxter's Nefertiri in " The Ten Commandments" or a zillion other examples of the time.
Reviewers if looking at a black and white production from the '40's for example, are presumably not piqued because it does not feature Directorial styles like Spielberg or Tarantino - because it does not offer the sophisticated CGI effects of today etc.
While today's camera operators (the good ones) can provide work of superior sweep and clarity because of technology advances, they would be hard pressed to better the mood creating skill of angles featured in so many noir films of yesteryear. Just to watch some of Welles material even now is to marvel.
Was it " Lady from Shanghai" that featured the climax in the mirror maze ? Amazing footage. And Rita Hayworth's femme fatale bravura performance in that ( also in " Gilda") may be considered as 'excessive' nowadays. Not to mention the reptilian malevolence of Everett Sloane in his 'easy to loathe and fear' role.
Movies are a constantly evolving art form. We don't compare whether Mozart is superior to Glenn Miller or Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or The Beatles etc since music changes and its true skilled practioners produce work that stands the test of time.
As with cinema and certainly as with Susan Hayward.
Jill, I KNOW you could have written that much better...!!!
I get irritated when reviewers describe Susan as "overacting" or prone to "histronics"...she was always so ahead of her time..she was reality acting! That's why she touched so many people with her films.
Aside from all that, it's nice to see her mentioned in the New York Times these days! She certainly hasn't been forgotten! P.S. I always get a kick out of young people who are just beginning to "discover" Susan Hayward. You'd think they had found a gold mine...well, yep , they have!
I think Susan Hayward was perfect in "I'll Cry Tomorrow" One of the greatest performances of all time!! She was truthful and took huge risks. What an exciting and dangerous performance.
Thoroughly enjoyed your well-reasoned discussion of the different acting styles. How true. Couldn't have said it better myself. I want to say more on this subject when I have more time. But couldn't wait to comment on your remarks right away.
One thing I will say is that if you are going to tell someone off, you might as well do it in the style of Susan or Bette Davis -- or else what good is it? Am I making any sense?
I agree with you. I hate that "overacting" charge, too. The other thing I hate is when a reviewer pidgeonholes an actor's work as reflecting a certain concept like the women's picture or nowadays when they say "chick flick." To me, it shows a lack of understanding of the individual performance and the work that went into creating a character.
I wish the reviewer had pointed out the silences in Susan's performance -- the pauses between the dialogue when everything she was thinking came through loud and clear. I am thinking particularly of that scene after she does the dance number, "Sing you Sinners" and she looks to her mother for approval. The doubt and worry in her face encapsulates the whole attachment she feels to her mother and not wanting to disappoint her, yet feeling she has. Try acting that scene, anyone. And that's just one of many in the film. The whole scene with Tony when she is completely vulnerable about telling him she was drunk the whole time he was away is another one that tears your heart out.
I could go on and on...
Oh yes you make very clear sense. I agree that getting a tongue lashing from either Bette or Susan would have taken the wind out of one's sails in a big hurry - LOL.
Re the terminology of 'the women's film'. Interestingly, it is not a concept or title given to a branch of cinema by any European studios, film makers or the Euro public. Rather, it is a slightly misogynistic notion peculiar to the Anglo west. (Speaks volumes for our often immature attitude to sexuality and gender divides probably.)
But what many macho deriders at the time failed to discern was that although many of 'women's films' of the day may well have been soap opera, weepies, escapist fantasy, etc - there were many excellently made 'women's films' that actually attacked these conventions and social attitudes and at times were quite subversive.
What's more - they featured some of the finest actresses of the day ( I am looking at the 30's and '40's which seemed to be the heyday of the 'women's film'.)
I daresay Susan's " My Foolish Heart" or " Back Street" would fit the category - and Stanwyck's " Stella Dallas".
Probably " To Each His Own" - " Madame X", " The Seventh Veil", " The Great Lie", " All that Heaven Allows", Joan Crawford's " Daisy Kenyon"
- so many movies with Rosalind Russell, Eve Arden - or what about " The Women" as a classic women's film.
A galaxy of top stars, sparklingly clever script, and a smash hit that owes nothing to this supposed 'second rate kitchen sink soapy' genre.
And so many crossed over the dividing lines back then too. An example that comes to mind may be " Laura" ? Elements of the 'women's film' no doubt. The Clifton Webb / Waldo Lydekker figure, the Gene Tierney elusiveness, but it managed to also fit the crime genre beautifully.
I really feel that although 'women's film' as a term was coined to be derogatory and dismissive, that when we look at what came out of the studios under that broad umbrella it puts the lie to that. Yes some of them matched the description and were merely a glorified soap opera and ten tissue effort, and others pushed the Mills and Boon unreal notion of perfect love while others featured the noble woman sacrificing for her children, her husband, her lover, her best friend etc.
But others were truly marvellous productions in every way.
I'm sure that if we look at other popular genres of the 30's and '40's - westerns, crime, adventure, war, science fiction etc, we will find the same mix. Some great films, some reasonable, and many just rubbishy. No different to the much maligned 'women's film'.
I have to agree with Kerry regarding the difference in styles between the '40s, '50s, '60s and now in movies, as in everything else in life.
For one thing, movies of long-ago eras had something that very few movies have today (and I admit that as a writer I am biased). That little "something" is called a story, with a beginning, middle and end. Too many movies today depend on special effects, digital imaging, and violence to capture their all-too-often teenage audiences.
Actors like Susan Hayward, Bette Davis, Gene Tierney, Olivia DeHavilland, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Sir Laurence Olivier and many other great stars had the ability to make good scripts great and even transcend some of the not-so-good scripts.
That stars had some physical eccentricities and movements should not be such a detriment to these reviewers. If they are paying attention, later stars have them, too. One that comes instantly to mind is Dustin Hoffman with his incessant nose-and-mouth twitching that keep me unable to watch him for more than a couple minutes. Great as Meryl Streep can be, her head-tossing action can irritate after a while. There are more, of course, but none I can think of at the moment, for the simple reason that most of them are in movies with lousy stories that I don't want to pay good money to see.
I suggest some of these reviewers go back and really watch some of the actors, directors and their movies of long ago. They might learn something.
They did a segment the other night on ShowBiz Tonight on CNN about how these actresses ( Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, etc) are getting huge, huge salaries and their films are going down the tubes. I guess the suits need their names to reel us in to these klunkers!