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!)
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....
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.
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.
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....