Sunday, June 28, 2009

Susan Hayward... part III

Part 3 of my ongoing tribute to Susan Hayward

At the end of 1944 Susie had her last paramount release, the soaper "And Now Tomorrow" where she was billed 3rd under Alan Ladd and Loretta Young. With her contract up the studio offered her a lot more money to sign a new 7-year deal. She was never happy with how the studio handled her and so apparently she told them what they could do with their "deal"! During this time she also gave birth to twins!

After Susie left Paramount she got top billing for the first time in RKO's "Deadline at Dawn" in 1946. During this time she received offers from 3 of Hollywood's biggest producers: Sam Goldwyn, David Selznick and Walter Wanger. At first she was going to go with Selznick but apparently after being told she'd have to wait an hour to see him in his office, she left and signed with Wanger, a decision she was to be thankful for all her life. Her first film under contract to Wanger was the underappreciated technicolor western "Canyon Passage" directed by Jaques Tourneur and co-starring Dana Andrews and Brian Donlevy.

Her next film for Wanger would become a turning point in her career. "Smash Up-The Story of a Woman" gave Susie the kind of role she had been waiting and working for 10 years to get and she rose to the challenge admirably, garnering her first Oscar nomination as best actress of 1947 for her gutsy portrayal of an alcoholic. She lost to Loretta Young in "The Farmer's Daughter" but Susie was now offically a "star" and a force to be reckoned with as an actress as well. If only her personal life were going half as good! Her marriage to Jess barker was plagued by arguements and walk-outs and they tried marriage counseling to work things out.

Susie scored another hit in RKO's "They Wont Believe Me", produced by Joan harrison who had worked with Alfred Hitchcock. Robert Young went effectively against type and played a heel. The above pic is a vintage Lobby Card I have for the film. Susie was disappointed though when she lost the lead in "The Snake Pit" which ended up with a bravura performance from Olivia deHavilland instead. It would surely have been interesting to see Susan in that role!

Her last film for Wanger was the technicolor adventure yarn "Tulsa" where she played an ambitious woman, fighting her way to the top... certainly there was much of herself in that one! Once again the sight of Susie in technicolor is something not to be missed! The late 40's was probably the best period for her looks and weather in color or not she was always stunning! Because of money troubles Wanger sold her contract to Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Centruy Fox for $200,000, which was just about what her new 7-year contract would get her per year.

Look at the fire in her eyes! Susie looking quite ravishing in a pic with Richard Conte from her first film at Fox, the excellent "House of Stangers". Directed by Joespeh L. Mankiewicz and starring the by now legendary Edward G Robinson. It was a performance that got him the best actor prize at Cannes that year. Mankiewicz wanted Susie to cut her hair shorter and tried all manner of persuasions but no dice! This film is sort of a forgotten gem of the late 40's but well worth seeing, especially if one like's Mankiewicz's other films like "All About Eve" and "A Letter to Three Wives". This was a great start at her new studio and her next flm would get her a second Oscar nomination!

To be continued...

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