(This IS a good idea for a topic---Susan's strangest films!!)
And.....strange that you should mention THIS particular film----it was a film I'd seen before I really knew anything about Susan Hayward. And in fact, at that time, I had wattched the film, not even noting that it WAS Susan!
I just remember, re Susan, thinking "What an interesting woman---very attractive and without spouting the usual 'Hollywood' acting 'technique'! More subtle.......and as if she IS this character, Tina.
But---I just couldn't really get into the film! As much as I usually love eerie movies. I'd missed the first part and was sure I'd missed something I needed to know! Also, it required some paying attention, and I was beginning to wonder where it was going. (Reminded me of some of my Henry James' reading experiences at college--I just wanted him to 'move along' a bit more!!)
(Here's a peculiar 'sideline' to my post! I have JUST NOW--after starting to write this--remembered that I READ 'The Aspern Papers' in my Freshman year at college. And.....I've just stood up on the top of my bed to reach the highest bookshelf, overhead......and here it is-- the book!! Right where I last left it!! My college paperback copy of "The Aspern Papers"!)
Look at the wonders you bring to us, Errol. I can't believe I still have it! And I can reread it now! (Without Dr. Cooperman's droning discussion of it, as HE probably found it rather slow, himself!)
Anyway, yes, this probably has been the strangest of the films I've seen Susan in. However--I have yet to see so very many more. I will have to rectify that. Still don't have a DVD! (Don't suppose you can use DVD's in your computer?? Asks Techo-challenged Lynn?!)
Oh--yes---I also saw some awful publicity film--a short one--about helping out during the war or some other issue? She was doing this PR for one of the studios she'd worked for. It was so 'faked'......with Susan speaking to this head of whatever studio it was. The dialogue was so bad, it even defeated such a talented actress as Susan!!
Anyway, Errol, let's see what other old books you can help me locate!!
And I hope others see your post, as this IS an interesting topic. I'll bet some of her earliest films were 'horribly and strangely interesting!'
I haven't seen it for many a year--and probably will not do so for many a year, but I suspect the strangest film Susan ever made was SIS HOPKINS with Judy Canova!!!!
THE LOST MOMENT is an unusual little film but oh my goodness, wasn't Susan gorgeous in the scenes with her hair down? I have never thought it was as bad as people made out with even Susan calling it "The Lost Hour and a Half!"
As Bill rightly pointed out, SIS HOPKINS WAS a strange film - so very dated now and quite corny (to me anyway.) However, some of Susan's scenes showed her as an exceptionally pretty young star and I love watching it for that reason. Times have changed so much and I doubt if Judy Canova would have been popular these days but there again, acting styles have changed too. Sometimes you will see writing to the effect of "Susan Hayward overacting as usual" but I never thought of her that way - maybe I am blinkered but she can do no wrong in my book - just a great actress who makes you believe most of what she is saying with that melodious voice and just so beautiful
"$1,000.00 A TOUCHDOWN" was another strange film with the stars being Joe E. Brown and Martha Raye - another corny one. Susan played a teacher who "taught romance" to the students!!! I have watched it a few times but it is rarely one in which I would choose to immerse myself and Susan does not have a lot of screen time.
Quite a fascinating question.
While I certainly wouldn't call DEADLINE AT DAWN the "strangest" film that Susan made, it certainly had a uniqueness all its own. I watched it recently, for the first time, knowing little about its background, but coming away with a feeling that it was a highly intelligent script with the feel of a New York play. I was anxious to learn more about this odd film noir, and my feelings 'fell into place' when I read that it was written by playwright Clifford Odets (based on a novella by Cornell Woolrich) and the ONLY film directed by STAGE director Harold Clurman!
The dialogue was both snappy and philosophical - which put it in a class quite outside the typical Big Studio productions of that era. I thought that it "read" like a play (especially when the cabbie shared his wit and wisdom).
But most important and of great interest to me, was that it gave me an awareness that Susan could have easily transported her acting skills to theatre. She was so natural in Deadline at Dawn, yet filled the screen with her own special 'presence! She totally 'ran' with that stage dialogue and made me believe that this 'dance hall girl' had been genuinely transformed over that eventful night.
Perhaps that is another topic for the future about Susan. How this New York native bypassed Broadway for Hollywood and what were her thoughts about the Great White Way. ???
Bill...I think you hit the 'nail on the head'..with SIS HOPKINS..
Yes..that was a 'strange film' for Susan playing with 'yokel' Judy Canova!
Trish..you hit on 'another one' with 1,000 TOUCH DOWN...very 'odd'..but she was climbing the ladder to success..even in playing 'second bill' to JOE E. BROWN and MARTHA RAYE in this one!
(YOU SEE..I KNEW..there was still some 'fire' in this message board..and..THERE IS... I have a couple more films that I thought of..but hoping some other fans will join in and..that they might be mentioned!
Alice...I always thought DEADLINE AT DAWN was a pretty top-notch film. It is from a novel and the screen play was by the great Clifford Odets. But that is only my opinion. I didn't find anything wrong with the script..and I also have this 'show' as a radio show...on the radio program...SUSPENSE (for any who are old enough to remember that far back. I collect some old radio shows..and actually have SUSAN on two SUSPENSE radio programs.."DAME FORTUNE" and "Death is for the Living".
Maybe..you might like to know what some of the critics said about the ones we have mentioned..so far...>(taken THE FILMS OF SUSAN HAYWARD by EDUARDO MORENO)
"I,000 TOUCHDOWN"...1939..(NO review on Susan in this one..as 'second leading lady after MARTHA RAYE....but her next film would be two years later in one of her 'nasty' roles in ADAM HAD FOUR SONS). BUT..interesting that DELMAR DAVES directed this one..and would, again, direct Susan in DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS...15 years later. Although SUSAN HAYWARD and JOHN HARTLEY played the 'young lovers' the drew no comments from reviewers.
SIS HOPKINS...(1941)...VARIETY wrote: "Susan Hayward is good as the snobbish cousin..and the CLEVELAND PRESS said..Susan Hayward as the plumbers daugher is as pretty as a co-lead and Judy Canova as probably could be found."
"DEADLINE AT DAWN"..(1946) N.Y. TIMES..BOSLEY CROWTHER: "The performances are thoroughly engaging. BILL WILLIAMS is winning as eh gob, SUSAN HAYWARD is spirited as a night-moth who assists him and PAUL LUKAS plays a taxi driver well."
AND.from SCREEN GUIDE:.."SUSAN HAYWARD and PAUL LUKAS score acting hits, both in roles that take them far out of their routines."
"THE LOST MOMENT" (1947..Just after making her Oscar nominated SMASH-UP):
NEWSWEEK: "Susan Hayward in a baffling role, is better than the producers had a right to expect."
VARIETY: "Susan Hayward, who played another psychotic character in SMASH-UP, also for WALTER WANGER, is effective in both facets of the pressent and the past."
It also says that SUSAN hated this movie...perhaps because of the quarrel with director...MARTIN GABEL.
Now...hope some more fans will join in and give some more in-put...
NO..Alice...I knew you were not 'knocking' DEADLINE AT DAWN ant that you liked it. I just included those 'remarks' because it was one of the films that had been mentioned. (not wanting to leave it out of the conversation)..AND..it was an 'odd' type film that Susan handled well. Please don't get the wrong impression on 'how'I might have responded back, because, I knew you did like the film...and YES...the script was more suited for stage than film. That's why I mentioned CLIFFORD ODETS (more of a stage writer than screen).
BUT..I was glad you mentioned this film as being 'odd' for Susan and it looks like it might have been a 'brave test that paid off'. Susan was not under Paramount contract. It had ended in 1946..and this film she did for RKO getting top billing over a previous Oscar winner..PAUL LUKAS. It would also be the first 'free lance' picture for her..and WALTER WAGNER, who we know did more than anyone else in Hollywood to promote her (she says that in her Oscar speech, years later)..picked her up this same year (1946) and put her in her next film..
CANYON PASSAGE opposite DANA ANDREWS and BRIAN DONLEVY. THEN..the WAGNER/HAYWARD films would continue with her 'next' picture being her first Oscar nomination for SMASH-UP the following year (1947).
ONE PICKY-THING I never cared for in DEADLINE AT DAWN...was Susan's beautiful long hair...being pinned up..and one drab-dress for the film. (publicity pictures with co-star BILL WILLIAMS has her in a beautiful gown and her long flowing hair..but it was not right for this role!)
I know I am not the only one of the fans on here, who always preferred it when Susan could show off her wonderful long hair. Trish has mentioned it before and I totally agree with her. It did bother me in this film...but then the role she was playing (a dance-hall with little to no money)..worked with the hair up!
ALICE...glad we both liked this film..and 'strange/or odd'..it was one that Susan took a 'good chance' on...between ending the Paramount contract and finally finding the man who helped her reach...stardom...WALTER WAGNER...
Thanks, Errol for your info on Deadline at Dawn, and I'm glad to know that we are both fans of this unique film. I know it's classified as film noir, but to that I'll add "film noir with a touch of class." Lol. It's interesting to learn that Walter Wanger picked Susan up that same year. He must have recognized that 'this was woman who could really and truly ACT! ' They sure had a wonderful partnership over the years and I loved that she acknowledged Wanger in her Oscar speech.
That's funny that you mentioned that Susan wears the same dress and pinned-up hairdo throughout the film. That was one of the details that made me get that "stage vibe" from the script. And, yes, as a fan, I always favor her hair long and flowing loose, but you are definitely right that her 'look' totally suited her character, and I think that it gave her a certain dignity that the dialogue seemed to dictate.
It certainly showed that she could be totally natural and make a character come alive yet be 'real.' Bravos to Walter Wanger for seeing that - and lucky us as her audience for being able to enjoy her amazing films and performances that followed Deadline at Dawn!!
I was hoping that more fans would chime in and tell us what they thought Susan's 'strangest' films were...but few have joined the conversation. I also said, at the beginning, that I did have 'another one' that I thought was 'very strange' for Susan for more reasons than one.
We once talked about some of her 'leading men' that really didn't fit the bill and this film was surely one of them! The film is.."THE HAIRY APE" with leading man being...WILLIAM BENDIX..(first strange thing about this film).
Then..there is the story line: A big, burly 'non-handsome' man stoking coal aboard a ship. It is a fine performance by Bendix...and you do feel sorry for him when he is seen by the snobbish, rich (SUSAN) while the ship is docked in Lisbon. She sees his very hairy body and starts calling a "hairy ape'. He becomes more and more attracted to her..thus leading to disastrous events that follow. The 'bitchy' beauty..luring the 'ape-like' man on....
Now..this film was made at a time (1944) when Susan was getting a 'name' for playing 'bitchy women' on screen. It would come a few years before she was under WALTER WANGER's wing and guided to much better roles for her..but he 'bitchy' roles were 'solid' and was pulling her up the ladder to success. This same year, she would also do "AND NOW TOMORROW" with ALAN LADD and LORETTA YOUNG..playing another 'woman-stealing-another-man' type role.
SUSAN had played the 'bitchy roles' from 1941 with the great.."ADAM HAD FOUR SONS" along with "SIS HOPKINS" the same year.."I MARRIED A WITCH" (1942) BUT..there were some other 'nice girl films' in between..like.."AMONG THE LIVING", ""REAP THE WILD WIND", "THE FOREST RANGERS", "YOUNG AND WILLING", "JACK LONDON" and "THE FIGHTING SEABEES"..along with a few 'small roles' in various musical comedies. But each time Susan did 'another ****** role' it seemed to pull her higher...up the ladder of success. Not ALL actresses had the 'chops' to play these type roles..so it was working in her favor.
"THE HAIRY APE" was the first time, writer, EUGENE O'NEILL had ok'd his play to be filmed..and it turned out to be a bit bland!
But..'bland' or not...it did not hurt Susan's rising career. It was through a second-type studio..UNITED ARTISTS so the film also, did not get a big budget.
In the end...the reviews proved just fine: NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE said.."Susan Hayward is appropriately hateful as the empty minded rich girl...
She achieves a good deal of 'villainy' in spite of the wealth of corny dialogue that has been included in her scenes."
TIME: SUSAN HAYWARD as the girl who drives him crazy, is much tougher-too coarsely so for the size of the girl's penthouse or the height of her social standing=but she is more convincing. She is, in fact, ablest ****************
These...were Susan's 'early years' and she fared well, no matter how good or bad the films were and within a few short years, she would have her first Oscar nomination for "SMASH-UP" by 1947.
I have this film on vhs and also on a 'double-feature' Susan dvd along with "SMASH-UP". I am planning to pull the dvd out tonight..and go back in time..to catch Susan, once more...in this..'very strange film'
YOU WILL NOTE* that I was quoting from a review..and when I looked at this message to edit/or approve it..I see that it has 'deleted' the words used in the review and one other place in this message. Sorry..but the 'words' were in the review and really...NOT..that bad!...but maybe you can figure it out.
It depends how we interpret 'strange' for this thread. Had the movie followed O'Neill's play tightly, it may well have been strange for the day as it had a very dark ending.
In addition, the many layers of sexual connotation were excised due to censorship in the 1940's and the resulting plot has more melodrama than unsettling motivations and consequences.
The other aspect of THE HAIRY APE that I recall is how it almost parallels William's STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. There we had the genteel and cultured Blanche both repelled and also drawn to the brutish lout Brando. The main difference being that where Blanche was fragile and fey and vulnerable, Susan's Mildred is supremely ****** and self assured and superior.
But it was ( I think) a career defining role for Bendix who has rarely done better and a good strong part for Susan.
After the mainly tender treatment women received on screen in the 1930's - the advent of the War and women going into the workforce in millions at the start of the 40's seemed to produce a sharp upswing in the femme fatale, almost nasty female role.
It also coincided with the rise of NOIR as one of Cinema's greatest eras (for me at least) where the lead actress was duplicitous, treacherous, deadly, scheming.
Hollywood needed tough girls ( or at least women who could portray 'tough' on screen. And what work we got from Babs Stanwyck, Mary Astor, Ava Gardner, Janis Carter, Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Gene Tierney, Linda Darnell, Gloria Grahame etc.
Susan also rose to the occasion but I feel only in THE HAIRY APE. Her other strong, independent, feisty girl roles were not usually at the expense of her leading men where they were betrayed, sold out, set up to take a fall, teased into criminal acts, killed and so forth.
I always enjoy your astute comments, and I think you are so on target in your remarks about THE HAIRY APE (and, also, its parallels to William's STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE).
I found Bendix and Susan totally compelling and would love to see them both come alive and recreate their characters in a contemporary production - without all that censorship of the '40s. I can so easily imagine Susan giving such a layered performance - breathing fire into the character of Mildred with all the "unsettling motivations" (as you so aptly put it) intended by O'Neill's play.
At any rate, even within the confines of '40's scripts, I thought Susan was superb. Her eyes, when she's first confronted by Bendix, reflect right into her soul!
Kerry, please keep up your imput on NOIR. I'm only first beginning to appreciate the finer distinctions of this cinematic era and the amazing women who dominated the box office!
Actually, I think we've all been wrong--including me. The strangest film Susan ever made--and rather despicable--was her scene in Paramount's STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM,which paired her with Ernest Truex and a girdle.
For me the strangest film Susan ever made is "thunder in the sun" from 1959.I hate to say it but i think it is a bad movie...i can not believe the story ,and there is a lot of camp...nothing is credible here.....
i read that she accepted to do it to help her friend Jeff Chandler.....
Compared to "Thunder in the sun" ,"The conqueror " is a big joy to me :-)
Phil, Amsterdam,the Netherlands.
Okay, you really got my curiosity on this one. My Eduardo Moreno book does have a page about this "Star Spangled Rhythm" film (sounds like a sort of "Let's Have a Show" plot--a la Mickey Rooney)!
It certainly does seems a rather oddball film, but what's even worse is that I now have this totally bad-joke/sick comment that's running around in my head, since you mentioned that Paramount paired Susan with Ernst Truex and a GIRDLE!!!
Are you ready for my sick NY humor?? - I am now dying to know which of the two did Paramount consider the 'beter fit'?!?!?
Okay! Okay! I did say it was my sicko-humor coming out--I never promised it was good! I just couldn't help it! And I do hope that Susan will forgive me--but since we both come from similar New York City turf--I think she will!
You made my day, Bill! And, now--how can I get to see that film? Is it on Youtube? Sounds like crazy fun!
PS I never saw the film that Philippe mentioned either, although I've read about it---and the critics did tend to agree with you, I think. Susan did promise to help her childhood friend, Jeff Chandler, out, which was very kind. They'd gone to (or near) the same school in their neighborhood and were pals.
Errol--I have dvd's of every one of Susan's flicks, including the girdle story---which of coruse is very short--just a segment with all the Paramount stars. None of it very good, in my thinking, though Godard, Lake, and Lamour in "A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peek-a-Boo Bang" is quite cute.
Thunder in the Sun was probably her worst film. Not that she was part of the "worst"--and there are others--prboably that all of us--think are not up to her standards--but Thunder was the pits--and yes, the critics thought so too.
(We could--or have we?--argue for days about the quality of Valley of the Dolls, but her Helen Lawson was really marvelous (though they ought to have let her do her own singing).