Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947)

Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947)

Directed by Stuart Heisler with a story by Dorothy Parker (A Star is Born (1937)) & Frank Cavett (Going My Way (1944)) and a screenplay by John Howard Lawson (Blockade (1938)) this often copied slightly above average (melo)drama earned Susan Hayward (I Want to Live! (1958)) her first Best Actress Oscar nomination. Sometimes referred to as a woman’s version of The Lost Weekend (1945) but more appropriately “A Woman’s Lost Life” Parker & Cavett’s Oscar nominated story is rumored to be based on the life of Dixie Lee Bing Crosby’s first wife telling the story of a female singer whose life changes once she retires to help her singer husband launch his highly successful career. Hayward’s husband is played by Lee Bowman.

After this previously financially struggling couple experiences instant wealth and the trappings of his fame take him away from home the majority of the time her life becomes a monotonous bore such that she turns to drink. Whereas alcohol used to provide Hayward’s character with the courage she needed to perform it becomes the salve for her loneliness and jealousy of her husband’s “too perfect” & doting assistant (Marsha Hunt). Eddie Albert plays Bowman’s piano playing friend with him from the beginning who recognizes what’s going on and tries to help as does Hayward’s original agent (Charles D. Brown) and eventually Dr. Lorenz (Carl Esmond). Carleton Young plays Bowman’s demanding boss. The reality of the couple’s child and what she might do (or fail to do) in a drunken stupor forces their marriage to the breaking point.

FYI the print quality of this B&W film when I saw it on TCM appeared grainy (vs. sharp) perhaps due to the production’s budget vs. any deterioration. The use of B actor Bowman in the other leading role only serves to confirm my suspicion.

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