Monday, June 29, 2009

Susan Hayward... part IV

The Susan Hayward tribute continues...

Another scan of a promo postcard I have. In the mid 1950's Susie starting wearing her hair shorter but only because she wanted to. Always keenly aware of her strengths and protecting her interests (which would serve her well during her divorce!) , she had a clause in her contract stating her hair could not be cut against her wishes! Her 2nd film at Fox was actually done on a loanout to Sam Goldwyn and released through RKO. "My Foolish Heart" was a tailor-made vehicle for Susie and she nabbed her 2nd oscar nomination for her work in it. The film received great notices across the board and was the 3rd hit in a row for director Mark Robson, who directed the searing noir boxing film "Champion", starring Kirk Douglas, also in 1949. Robson is a director that doesnt get enough recognition these days but he did some truly excellent and wide-ranging work. Susie didnt get the oscar that year, the award going to Olivia deHavilland for her incredible performance in "The Heiress" instead.

A publicity still for one of Susie's best films of the early 1950's, Henry Hathaway's western thriller "Rawhide" with Tyrone Power. A taut, credible and well-acted film with gritty location photography by Milton Krasner. In 1952 Susie and John Wayne were declared "The Most Popular Stars in the World" by the Foreign Press Association. I recall AMC showing the newsreel footage of them receiving the "Henrietta" statue for this award. I probably have it on tape... somewhere!

One of my fave pics of Susie, a publicity shot for "I Can Get It For You Wholesale", a film I have yet to see, but by all accounts one of her best "ambitious-climbing-to-the-top-bitch roles" ever! On Aug 10th 1951 Susie was invited to put her hand prints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Shortly after that she had her biggest film to date, the biblical epic "David and Bathsheba". Directed by Henry King in searing technicolor, the film had everything going for it but is a major snoozer. The only reason I would steel myself to sit through this again would be to see Susie in color. But it was the biggest money-maker for Fox that year!

A promo postcard for "Snows of Kilaminjaro", which about half of Susie's scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. She ends up with a rather thankless role and the film totally belongs to Ava Gardner. But before she made that film she starred in "With a Song in My Heart", a bio-pic about singer Jane Froman. Susie once again gave a solid, gutsy performance (and even allowed her hair to be cut shorter to more resemble Froman!) which garnered her a 3rd Oscar nomination, this time losing out to Shirley Boothe for "Come Back Little Sheba". That was one of the few times she didnt actually attend the Oscar ceremonies because she, husband Jess Barker and the twins took off on a long awaited European vacation.

A shot from another excellent but often overlooked gem of a film, Nicholas Ray's "The Lusty Men". Susie's co stars were Robert Mitchum and the ever-reliable Arthur Kennedy. Ray's films are usually off-beat and interesting and this one is no exception. Susie gave a restrained, realistic performance and looked totally gorgeous to boot. In 1953 after 9 years of marriage Susan filed for divorce from Jess Barker. It was an ugly, bitter and long drawn out process because Barker simplty stated he did not want a divorce! She offered him a $100,000 settlement which he refused, demanding instead half of her community property which would have been worth about a quarter of a million, BUT back in 1944 she had him sign away any rights to her property when they got married! Quite an unprecedented thing at that time! Susan had made about $374,000 in 1951-52 while during the same period Barker had made $665! No wonder he didnt want a divorce!!

To be continued...

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