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Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene??

As anyone who watched Susan's excellent role in "Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman" knows, the last scene of the film--for WHATEVER reason--closed this movie with an absurd--comical!--ending!

Now, obviously Susan was legitimately unable to appear in that last awful scene, where she sits like a mannequin, in bad need of a shave! Because-instead of her FACE alternating with her co-star's, as they speak their unnecessary Psych 101 reasons for her breakdown--all we are allowed to view is a non-stop camera-shot of the back of her talking head, as the rather weak actor, (I felt) Lee Bowman, has a sudden "Ah-Ha!" moment as to how all their troubles began.

Whether Susan was needed for another film, or there were contract problems, or it was decided that the original ending was even WORSE than this current one (where Susan was obviously no longer available to replay the end), I thought the insult to the audience of substituting the real Susan with this backwards 'talking head' was inexcusable. In fact, it seemed so silly that I laughed--and STILL laugh whenever I think of this scene being in a film, which I otherwise enjoyed very, very much.

Surely, this ending must have caused comments from critics and the public. It was ABSURD! But I have yet to read any discussions or reasoning for this most peculiar closing!! (Or has this been discussed before, on the Board??)

Does anyone here know why Susan was unavailable to appear in this last scene? WHATEVER the reason for a changed ending---they could have done better than they did!! Ludicrous!

I am really extremely curious about this!!

Anyone know?

Lynn

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

HA!!!...Well as you can tell, Lynn...I have a hard time 'not' responding back, so here goes MY FOOLISH MOUTH once again.

You questioned director STUART HEISLER's 'back..head shot' of Susan at the end of this film. To my thinking...he did the right thing, by ending it that way.
Remember..this was 1947..and you have just seen Susan completely in head bandages from the fire, with only a small part of her face being shown. I don't think the movie audience would have liked to see the final shots of this film with a scarred up Susan face.

The doctor says..."The scars will heal up"...and that seemed to be enough, than to try and show the final shots of a disfigured woman.

ALSO...the final words that Susan says..are so beautiful and touching, that I never even thought of 'the final scene' being shown from only the back of her head.

Movie public would really NOT be into seeing 'leading ladies'..with ugly scarred faces until around 1953 when LEE MARVIN throws the pot of hot coffee into GLORIA GRAHAME's face...in "THE BIG HEAT"and in that film...they do go on to show her face disfigured before the end of the film..but back in '47..it don't seem likely and..(in my opinion)..the director gave it the proper ending. I have never 'laughed' at the ending of this film. But everyone looks at things differently, so that is why we try to share our feelings and comments on here.

I love the 'cat-fight' in this film with Susan and MARSHA HUNT. It is a big highlight of the film..and Susan's performance gave her..her first Oscar nomination.

I just looked up to see 'who' the other actresses that were nominated that year and they were as follows:

JOAN CRAWFORD..."POSSESSED"
DOROTHY MC GUIRE..."GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT"
ROSALIND RUSSELL..."MORNING BECOMES ELECTRA"
and...'WINNER'..LORETTA YOUNG..."THE FARMERS DAUGHTER"..(I suppose for her odd 'Sweeedish' accent.

Very odd..also..that a comedy would win a Best Actress award with all of these wonderful dramatic performances...and that seldom happened comedy/over drama, in my recollection of the Oscars. DRAMA seemed to always 'win out' over comedy roles for both men and women, but it did happen ever so often, even back then,

AGAIN....this only (my) feeling of 'why' the director choose to end the film that way...and AGAIN..those last words Susan has in the film..were touching and very...beautiful....and never made me laugh...

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Errol!

En garde!!! Ah....I do like a good bit of 'fencing' of opinions! Much more fun than if we agreed!!

First, let me start by saying that the scene with Susan and Marsha Hunt was my favorite, too! And I loved the sort of 'sinuous, animal-like, slithering across the room that Susan did so well (along with the expression on her face), when she made the decision that Marsha was NOT going to be enjoying her husband's song-playing for much longer!

But--now, onto the head! But, before I continue........I hang my own head in shame, as with "My Foolish Memory"---I cannot remember the movie's touching words at the end of the film!! I do not own the film, so I shall have to see if maybe Youtube has that last scene. Don't they have the entire film of 'Smash-Up' on their Board? I shall check later and watch it, if they do!

Okay! Now! Here are my points--

--Susan COULD have still had her bandages on---in reality, she probably wouldn't have healed enough not to be in danger of infection so soon, if, as the film suggests, she had had those bandages 'unwrapped' already. So---we could have then been able to watch a more real ending---with Susan's face! I do feel that even with a little bit of face showing--her words would have felt more 'part of her'.

--I agree about changing attitudes towards gruesome sights. Unless this was one of the sci fi favorites of the 50's-60's--and Susan's head had turned around to reveal--"The Fly"--in earlier days, people who watched movies did NOT look forward to gruesome sights, the way they do now! (When I went to my first sci fi type dramas in the 50's and so on--the audience, by then, seemed to be there SPECIFICALLY for the 'horror' of the 'real'.)

--My real problem with 'Smash-Up's ending is that the scene just looks so totally wooden and fake! It honestly did make me think of a fake doctor (the way he spoke), walking back and forth in front of a wooden ventriloquist's dummy. And, the way in which Lee Bowman seems to have FINALLY come to his lack of sensitivity and understanding didn't help.

--The barely moving head, that heavy, upright ('stern-looking') chair, along with that Psych 101 'sum-up' for the audience--all these things did not seem in keeping with the rest of the drama at ALL!

And, unfortunately, the moment that scene began, I was so turned off by the way it was done---that they 'lost' my emotions. And I know that if the end had simply flowed as 'real' in my head----I would not have been rolling my eyes the way I was.

Regarding the Oscars....yes, I do agree. I don't understand that Loretta Young won that award. I really did think Susan did an amazing job. It seems so odd that two such different type films and roles competed--comedy vs drama.

(I was just remembering---re. bandages--at least Susan LOOKED like she was in a bad accident! What about Bette Davis' brain surgery---where, soon after, not only is she up to giving a party and skipping around--but HER only 'damage control' after life and death surgery, was to have her wear a little "beanie" over the top of her head!!)

At any rate, Errol, thanks so much for telling me that the ending was an intended one. I honestly didn't know.

I will go back and try to listen to the words in that final scene again, but even now I can't imagine that even tender and beautiful words will change my mind. I still feel that the last scene did not feel like part of the rest of the film.

And.....Errol, thanks so much for not just answering my question about the ending---but for all your other observations.

It will be interesting to me, if I get more 'Thumbs-Up' or 'Thumbs-Down' from other members who felt strongly....like I did.....about the film's ending! My guess is that if anyone answers, their opinions will be very strong one way or another--like ours are!

Thanks, Errol!

Lynn

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Okay..Lynn...so we'll 'fence' awhile..and see if someone else chimes in..(ha) ..Sooo let me ask you...how long ago did you watch this film?

If you're like me..sometimes I 'think' things were worse than they might have been. I just put the film back on..to see what you are talking about on the doctor moving around 'the dummy' and all of that. (the dummy being BOWMAN)... ..But the dr. don't hardly 'move' at all. He has a foreign accent and has only a brief encounter with Bowman. The dr. stands on Bowman's left..then moves to his right side. They are in front of a window and Bowman is seated. It is very, very short.

Then the end scene with Susan's head toward the camera..seated..as Bowman asks her if she is all right now. The dr. says the scars will heal...and he leaves!

SUSAN tells BOWMAN..that she 'had to hit rock bottom in order for them to ever change. That they are going to have a wonderful life now'...Then the final lines are:

SUSAN: "It's a wonderful thing to rise each morning and..fear not...
To sleep each night and dream not...
And to give ones heart..and want not." (not sure on that second-to-last word..it don't come clear..either''taunt' or 'want')

I thought the final lines were very nice..but that's just me..and also did not see a doctor saying 'much' at all. He was very brief and out of the way.

BUT..we all have our likes/dislikes...that's what makes it fun to share!.

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Wow!

My memory is no joke!! Well--maybe it IS!

I DO remember being fixated on the back of Susan's head!! (And you are so right that the 'dummy' is Bowman! Ha ha!)

I don't know why I said that the doc was walking around. In fact, I barely remember the doctor!

I do not remember Bowman sitting. Why in the world did I think he was standing in front of Susan, pacing a little in front of her. And talking as IF he knew as much as a doc!

Boy, I'd better start checking out dementia units!

Well, at least I DO remember the final lines---as soon as you remined me of them, I could picture the scene. And they ARE lovely.

I no doubt HAVE intensified the negative images in my mind--probably because I thought Bowman's character a self-serving IDIOT with no understanding of the psychological stress his wife went through. So, I 'remember' him and the scene as so austere and unpleasant! (Signed, Dr. Lynn!)

I may have to hire you, Errol. You and Trish have super memories. How much do you charge an hour??


Lynn

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Hi all:

I guess I missed out on seeing anything in the ending of this film. I just accepted it as the inevitable outcome of all the drama that preceded it. Certainly it was a very pat ending, but I just chalked it up to the style of films at that time. That her face wasn't shown didn't bother me at all.

Haven't seen this film in a while, so maybe if I saw it again I would be more discerning.

BTW, I have a very happy experience about seeing this film on the big screen about eight years or more ago. Also in the audience that afternoon was Tim and his daughter Ally. I got to meet them at the end of the film and that was a real thrill.

Also, I have seen Marsha Hunt at various events around town, and I've always wanted to ask her about that scene with Susan. I only hesitated because I wouldn't want her to think I didn't value her work as well. She has spoken about working with Susan in an interview online, and from that I got the feeling she didn't get to know Susan that well.

It's funny I can analyze "I'll Cry Tomorrow" down to the smallest nuance, but with "Smash-up" I don't think the material warrants that much analysis. Just my opinion. I might add that the film is due for restoring -- the print I saw that afternoon was dark and muddy.

Jill

Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Hi, Jill,

I think you've got a real point here---in no way did I get caught up in 'Smash-Up', as compared with the feeling of 'reality' in "I'll Cry Tomorrow". I loved 'Smash-Up' for being my first introduction to Susan Hayward......and for its almost 'camp' scenes inbetween the serious stuff.

That entire scene in the 'ring' with Susan and Marsha Hunt had some very funny/tense stuff in it, from the moment you realized that Susan was gearing up to cut-into Marsha's little silent 'sing-a-long' with Lee Bowman at the piano! Sort of like watching a drunk but sinuous panther, making it path straight to its prey!

And of course--the actual fight--it sure did look real at some points. (Actually, I rather thought that Susan was doing Marsha a favor by trying to yank off that peculiar front hank of hair, which was one strange hair-do! Ho ho!)

Anyway, it was scenes like that, which for some reason, even though the most entertaining--put 'Smash-Up' on a different par as compared to "I'll Cry Tomorrow"--a film which had me doing a lot more thinking.

In one of the books on Susan, I read that Marsha was rather hurt by Susan's rather typical 'let's see how fast I can race off the set, from the moment the Director yells 'Cut'--to the second I'm safely in my trailer'!! I think Marsha had hoped to get to know her.

And the book also said that some years later, in a department store, when Marsha noticed Susan shopping just across the same aisle from her, that she distinctly felt that Susan, for whatever reasons, made sure she didn't look up and acknowledge her. (Of course, with Susan being so myopic, there's a chance that she never even SAW Marsha!) But still, it appears to me that Marsha was too sensitive a person not to have felt rather hurt by what struck her as 'snubbing'! Anyway, I did think Marsha Hunt did very well in that role.

As a film which had me analyzing so many of the interactions among the characters, "I'll Cry Tomorrow", had far more depth to it, I felt, than 'Smash-Up'. And I've watched it a few times just for the amazing acting by Susan and Jo Van Fleet. It certainly pulls me in each time!

(On a more personal note....watching Susan from the time she leaves the taxi and takes that long, aimless, alienated walk through the city streets--I was so mesmerized, as she somehow captured a long-ago clinical depression I once went through, which had nothing to do with this story, but managed to parallel my feelings of being on the edge of 'nothingness' that haunted me for several months.)

And so many of Susan's scenes--particularly with her 'mother'--are so truly poignant that I could watch them many times.....and still be carried along, over and over, into all that I felt their characters were experiencing.

That must have been great fun meeting Tim and Ally at the big-screen showing of 'Smash-Up'. Funny how his daughter landed up in New York!!

I do wonder at the multitude of feelings that must go through them both--especially Tim, who was so aware of his mother's own demons--when they view her in films as real as "I'll Cry Tomorrow".

Jill, was just wondering....did you grow up near Tim and Greg?


Well, all, Happy Tuesday!

Lynn

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

OKAY..LYNN...I think you are entirely correct about the 'awful' casting of LEE BOWMAN opposite Susan....SOOO..this will even make you (as it did me) more upset, if the 'truth' was told in SUSAN HAYWARD: PORTRAIT OF A SURVIVOR by BEVERLY LINET.

It says that the director cast LEE BOWMAN as the husband...(a weaker choice) over (of all actors)..JESS BARKER. I would have loved to have seen Susan and Jess do this film together. (YES..it says..he chose the 'weaker actor')

What a 'stupid'...mistake by the director..and giving us at least 'one film' with Susan and Jess together....

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Lynn:

I could go on and on about "I'll Cry Tomorrow" -- the deep impression it made on me, both personally and otherwise. I saw it first at a very impressionable age and at a time in my life when personal circumstances closely matched the film's storyline.

It blew me away when Tim mentioned in a post quite a while ago (or maybe on the TV biography about his mother) that this was the one film where she was most like the way she was in her private life, with all the mannerisms and attitudes. Something touched me so much about her performance, and when he said that, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, somehow at that young age I sensed this was the real thing.

I have this film in my DVD collection, and it's one I never get tired of. I also find new things in it that I hadn't noticed before. The one thing I never get used to, however, is the abuse done by her husband (Richard Conte). The way he pushes her around makes me cringe all over again. Of course Susan in real life would probably have kicked him you know where, but by being so vulnerable and not hitting back, it's even more sad and poignant.

No, I didn't grow up near Tim and Greg. I arrived in L.A. from New York in the early '70s. However, I used to live in the San Fernando Valley where Tim lives now.

That's my two cents' worth.

Jill

Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Hi, Jill, :-)

"I'll Cry Tomorrow", was a film that I also found unusually touching and painfully realistic, even though, in my case, my personal circumstances did not match the film's storyline.

For example.... watching Susan's total vulnerability in that short but somehow harrowing bar scene, where she sits at a table with 3 lowlifes---and you watch her facial expressions flashing back and forth, trying to pick up (match?) the moods of the others--having completely lost her own 'self' (In this case to drink) was very painful to watch. Like so many other scenes in this movie, she played it in a way that I could not imagine any other actress doing so well.

But, re. trying to watch the A&E 'Bio of Susan Hayward' was a total lesson in frustration---as neither my own computer or my sister's had any sound on any of the parts of the episodes!! I thought I was about to go up in spontaneous combustion, trying desperately to read the lips of Tim or ANY guests! So I missed that entire bio!

Like you felt, reading what you wrote about Tim's comment about the films 'reality' affected me, as well. Although he may have been very young when he saw the movie........our insights and intuition about our parents can be amazingly insightful, no matter what age we are. And we are so affected by them.

I think Susan's reaction to Richard Conte comes over as almost 'shocking', as we have always watched Susan play a role where she is so strong and forceful!

You know, I don't think we ever 'get over' what we could not understand about our parents. We go through a lot of stages of changing feelings......but I know that, even in my 60's now, I still want, so often, to ask my Mom to tell me 'why' some of her reactions were as they were. Even with all the love we shared---I still have those questions.

I found your post, very, very thoughtful, Jill. And--I do agree with you that 'I'll Cry Tomorrow' was probably Susan's greatest film. (Even though "IWTL" was performed so realistically that I could never watch it again! It still makes me shudder! Yikes!)

(Okay--and that's MY two cents! LOL!)

Lynn :-)

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Lynn:

Sorry you were not able to hear the sound on the A&E biography. On my old computer I had similar problems. I am so glad to have this new Mac laptop.

Thanks for reminding me about that scene in the bar -- "harrowing" was the word. She depicted a drunk better than anyone I have ever seen. And having been around enough drunks, I can attest to that -- unfortunately. She captured the absolute -- what I would call sloppiness -- of certain drunken people. She also had a great director who made sure she looked a mess. I remember reading that he would actually take water and smash down her hair.

I agree with you about the parent issues -- trying to understand their motives or inclinations, etc. and never really coming up with the answers. A lot of it is deeply ingrained in their childhoods and if they haven't overcome that, it just continues to manifest itself throughout their lives. I certainly identified with the mother-daughter scenes in "I'll Cry Tomorrow" -- the push and pull of that dynamic.

Like you, I find it hard to watch "I Want to Live." It's so raw, and the whole sequence preparing the cyanide tablets makes me sick. It's certainly not a film you curl up with on a cold winter's night. I have it in my collection, but I have to really be in the right mood to see it. I always felt that Susan deserved the Academy Award for "I'll Cry Tomorrow" and got it for "I Want to Live" as the consolation for not winning the previous year. Not that she didn't deserve it for the latter, but I just thought her work in ICT had so much nuance and depth. If I had voted, I would have given her two Oscars in a row.

Jill

Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

Errol,

I went back to the Linet book and reread the section about Jess Barker vs. Lee Bowman (who won the lead male role in 'Smash-Up")....and all I can think was "I wonder if Jess had received the part, whether this is some way may have changed the course of their marriage. For better.....OR.....for worse.

But it may not have been too late at that point for Susan and Jess to discover, through working together, that without (1.) Jess's angry feeling that there was a 'stigma' to his reversed marital role for that period of 'men leading the household"... and (2.) that through spending day after day, working hard on the set--without as much influence from alchohol--the two of them may have come to understand one another more. AND.....to both sit down and consider just what the script's emphasis on the hazards of drinking was telling them.

Probably not.....but it would have perhaps given them a small helping hand to at least STARTING the process of thinking about what drink can do to a couple.

I have no idea though if it was just too late. I'm just wondering.....

Thanks, Errol, for bringing my attention to that rather significant decision that may have had played some part in their 'real' lives together.

Lynn

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Re: Was the Director Out for a Cup of Tea During "Smash-Up's" Final Scene?

That would have to be something between the 'two of them' and to me...it doesn't seem a part of their problem at all...since this was 1947 and they didn't have any 'issues' on their marriage (at least to the public) until the '50's. It was 'years' before fans knew of any problems they were sharing.

Jess went on location with the boys when she was doing RAWHIDE in 1951 and on the dvd extras...there are many photos of all of them having a great time together. The divorce happened...years..after making SMASH-UP.

I always thought in those years of the '40's..both Susan and Jeff were 'new comers' and were just trying to get their careers into the 'right hands' to help them reach better films as they struggled on in this 'ugly business' (because it can be very 'ugly' at times and when you are young and hoping for breaks, you are ALL just another wanna-be actor/actress in Hollywood.

There were 'many movies' made between the time of SMASH-UP..for Susan..and the things that caused the divorce (which was 'their own private lives'..and NOT the public/movie goers affair...AT ALL! "SMASH-UP" just happened to be when Susan found the 'man' who could help her move forward...WALTER WANGER.

GOD..the things you have to 'give up' to become a 'movie star'!!! Your entire world is put on display until you have 'no private life' and not only does effect YOU as the actor/actress...it also involves all those around you, who you love...in what USED TO BE..YOUR PRIVATE LIFE! These have to be 'hard things' to deal with...just because you want to share your talents with the world.

I don't like prying into Susan and Jess's private lives. Believe me..the 'gossip columnists' make their 'careers' on this kind of stuff and frankly, I would 'hate' it if my private life was turned upside down for the whole world to know about..and then feel like you're in a gold fish bowl...just a 'thing' to look at and make judgments on.

It is a good question, Lynn...but 'places' that ONLY FANS can 'imagine' about. Only THEY know what caused their break-up...and anything else is a pure guessing game that was 'their lives'...and none of us should be involved in.

Please don't take this as being 'nasty' toward your question...but 'think' about how it would be to have people dig into your private life. That's all I'm asking here..and hope you will not hold it against me..but I just feel some things are left 'unknown'..unless you are FAMILY. They..did..have 'a life together' that was 'theirs and should be theirs alone'. The FANS and NON FANS got..enough..when the divorce did happen..and that must have hurt her a lot too. You don't try to kill yourself unless you have been driven to a very low ebb in your life...and the divorce was a big part of that happening....

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