Smash Up (1947)

“I’d love to see you all messed up.”

Smash Up is a tearjerker that offered Susan Hayward her first staring role as Angela Evans. Angela has a promising career as a singer ahead of her when she tosses it all away for domestic bliss with up-and-coming singer husband, Ken Conway (Lee Bowman). Everything is perfect at first, but then when Ken hits the big time, Angela’s deep insecurities emerge, and soon Angela plummets into a serious drinking problem. Ken professes amazement and then annoyance with Angela’s behaviour–after all, he reasons, she has everything a woman can want. Then the marriage hits the rocks, and Angela hits the bottle even more than before ….

Eddie Albert plays Steve Nelson, Ken’s accompanist and partner. Steve is the steady bachelor who can see the error of Ken’s remote and disaffected ways. Marsha Grey (Marsha Hunt) plays a conniving woman who wants Ken for herself. The film is corny in parts, and the relentless playing of the theme grates on one’s nerves, but this is Susan Hayward’s film. She delivers a stunning performance as the needy Angela, whose decline begins with her husband’s success. Some of the scenes called for her to be drunk, or to get drunk, and she performed excellently. Not everyone can pull off the role of a drunk, but there were some scenes when it wasn’t quite clear, at first, whether or not Angela was tipsy–she didn’t overdo it once. If you want to watch an entertaining 40s tear-jerker is a great place to start. From director Stuart Heisler

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