Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Movie scenes to make you sob: Susan & R J

A wet afternoon watching WITH A SONG IN MY HEART again, a good print on TCM (UK) with that lush Fox colour of the period (1952) and those Fox contract players like their reigning star Susan Hayward (Marilyn was coming up behind...), Rory Calhoun, David Wayne, and Thelma Ritter terrific as usual as Clancy, the nurse from Flatbush, who looks after our injured songbird Jane Froman - its Froman's voice we hear as Susan lip-synches. Its a big, bright, brash, camp biopic like how they used to do them then, and Susan delivers as usual. 
I liked it a lot when I saw it as a kid, and it builds to a great climax with all those songs about America. Froman was injured in a plane crash, so we follow her recovery, as old hand Walter Lang directs. The scene that gets me is with young Robert Wagner, just starting out here. 
He sits on the piano which Jane is attached to, in his first appearance. No wonder it set him on the path to stardom ... then later he is the shell-shocked soldier she sings to when entertaining overseas and she brings him out of his shell as they both cry. The audience must have sobbed too ... I certainly did. We love Susie here at the Projector, as per other items on her ... Wagner never appealed to me that much, we certainly preferred his Fox fellow contract player Jeff Hunter .... he is a 'People We Like' on here too ...


  1. One of my favorites! The production number of the title song is ultra luxe with a mindnumbing number of violins and a stage bigger than any theatre could possibly hold! But that's the great thing about old musicals and Susan and Thelma give it all they've got.
    I also thought David Wayne was very good as first husband Don Ross, one of those underappreciated journeymen actors who didn't light the screen on fire but was always solid in support.
    That big finale is rousing, something that is often scoffed at nowadays but it certainly pulls you right into the spirit of the film.
    Wagner is very affecting here, I have no great affection for him either although I was a fan of It Takes a Thief where his surface suavity was put to good use, but his scenes are a study in the star making apparatus of the old studio system. There is no way you can forget him the way he is presented here and it was the real start of his ascension.

  2. Terrific comments. Wayne was terrific too with Marilyn in WE'RE NOT MARRIED and HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE and of course as Tracy & Hepburn's neighbour in ADAM'S RIB.

    Susan of course was Fox's lady adventuress in all those early 50s actioners (I like her with Gable in that studi-bound backlot Hong Kong in SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, or "out in Africa" with Ty in UNTAMED or with Mitch in WHITE WITCH DOCTOR - before she began to emote in the grand style in I'LL CRY TOMORROW and I WANT TO LIVE. I like her early 60s sudsers too: BACK STREET, ADA, I THANK A FOOL, STOLEN HOURS, and the trash classic WHERE LOVE HAS GONE ....

    Pity though they had to go off on location to Utah for THE CONQUEROR ... near that atomic testing site.

  3. Susan has always been a favorite of mine and I love all those bosom clutching mellers of hers, in particular Ada, but my absolute favorite of all her films is The President's Lady. She plays Rachel Jackson, a beautiful gentle performance, to Charlton Heston's Andrew-his customary stiffness works very well in the role and they make a very charismatic pair with the great Fay Bainter in support as her mother, the love story is quite moving. Sadly it is almost impossible to find nowadays.

    Netflix has provided wonderful access to some of her more obscure films: Sis Hopkins with Judy Canova, enjoyable except when Judy yodels!, My Foolish Heart, The Lost Moment-one that I really liked but she herself hated and called The Lost Hour and a Half, and The Honey Pot. However one that did pop up on there and would have better been forgotten was Thunder in the Sun wherein Susie plays a Basque immigrant opposite Jeff Chandler. Oy! Dreadful! What made it even more ridiculous was the knowledge that Susan and Jeff, or Edythe and Ira as they were at the time, were classmates in their Brooklyn youth.

  4. I think she did that routine western (Its rather fun actually in a wet afternoon matinee kind of way) after her Oscar win as a favour to old pal Jeff. I liked her late 40s movies too like Tulsa which I saw at a Sunday afternoon revival when I was a kid in the 50s. I like her sparring with George Sanders in that good I Can Get It For You Wholesale, in 1950.

    She didnt have much to do in The Honeypot, buts its great seeing her with the young Maggie Smith - her husband back in Georgia died while she was in Italy making it, so Mank left her go early, so her part might have been shortened ...

    She was certainly "The Brooklyn Bernhardt". It was affecting seeing Chuck helping her at that last public appearance of hers, at the Oscars in 1974.