Smash Up: The Story of a Woman (1947)
Felt like a bit of color and despair today, and even though Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman is in glorious black and white, Susan Hayward is always in color to me. The story is allegedly based on Bing Crosby's first wife, Dixie Lee, who gave up her singing career when they married and developed a problem with alcohol. In this film, Hayward plays Angelica "Angie" Evans, the nightclub singing wife of Ken Conway (Lee Bowman), an up-and-coming radio crooner. When the two marry, Angie quits show business to support her husband's career. Guess what happens next?
Ken, with the help of his songwriting partner, Steve Nelson (Eddie Albert), becomes a big star and sets up Angie in a beautiful penthouse apartment in New York City with truckloads of cash, a very well-stocked bar, and a household staff to look after her and their infant daughter, also called Angie. With nothing to do and no experience with the social expectations her husband's success demands, Angie begins to feel lost.
Ken means well, but as everyone around him knows, Angie Sr. likes to take a little drink now and again to build up her confidence. She used to have to have two snorts before performing when she was working, and now that she isn't working, there is more time and opportunity to do so. It doesn't help that Ken is away on tour a lot and that his lovely crooning attracts many a bobby-soxer, or that his super-efficient assistant is a beautiful young brunette called Martha (Marsha Hunt).
The more successful Ken becomes, the lonelier Angie gets and the less able the two are to connect in helpful ways. She starts hitting the sauce a lot harder and he doesn't know how to help her. Eventually, Martha starts taking over hostessing and other formerly wifely duties (well, not all of them) and winds up in love with Ken.
Not a cheerful movie, in other words, even though it was written in part by Dorothy Parker. Smash-Up was billed as the woman's version of The Lost Weekend and earned Susan Hayward the first of her five Academy Award nominations. It's a good performance, but the movie is only a little better than average.
Eddie Albert does a sensitive and affecting job as the best friend who sees all of this coming. He also plays his own guitar. Who knew?