38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
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Susan Hayward was one of the better actresses of the 40's and 50's, and this double feature DVD includes two of her better movies (one of which features a performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination).
Tulsa is a solid Eagle-Lion film that places Hayward in Oklahoma during the oil boom of the 20's. Her father is a rancher who is killed while feuding with a local oil drilling company that happens to have a border on his property (he is killed in an accident while trying to tell the drillers to stop polluting his cattle's water supply). When faced with losing the land that her father valued so much Hayward decides if you can't beat 'em, join 'em (and then beat them at their own game). Her transformation from anti-oil drilling advocate to oil baron is actually scripted fairly well, and her performance is believable. The movie is pure Hollywood, but good Hollywood. There are no major surprises, but the movie is written, acted, and directed with such class that the standard Hollywood plot devices come off fairly well. The supporting cast is also quite good, featuring Robert Preston, Pedro Armendariz, and Ed Begley. Tulsa isn't a great movie, but it ends up being a good one that is very entertaining.
Smash-Up is a marginally better movie, and Hayward was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as a singer who gives up her career to be a wife and mother. She is married to another singer whose career takes off just after she has given up her own. She has a hard time dealing with his success, and developes a jealousy towards his female personal assistant. While trying to cope with all of that she falls into alcoholism, and spirals downward until hitting rock bottom. Smash-Up is another well written movie, and Hayward was given a role that perfectly showcases her acting abilities. While not a great movie, this is a very good one, and one of the better melodramas of the day.
The DVD from Acme DVD Works (VCI) is fairly good. The prints of both of these movies seem to be the same prints used by other public domain companies, but the DVD mastering/authoring here seems to be a little better as the movies look sharper and have better contrast here than on some other public domain DVDs. The prints used are not great, however, so neither movie truly looks great on this DVD - this is just the best that I have seen either of them look.
Both of these movies are good, entertaining films that hold up under repeated viewings, and they show why many people prefer the golden age of Hollywood to the movies being made today.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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SMASH-UP (1946) and TULSA (1949) give the DVD-viewer and potential Susan Heyward admirer a chance to see her strut her stuff before the wide acclaim she achieved with such movies as THE JANE FROHMAN STORY and I WANT TO LIVE in the 1950s.
SMASH-UP is arguably the better of the two movies because of its good-sized and precise cast, and because the topic it deals with, alcoholism, receives fairly sensitive treatment. Miss Heyward plays a former lounge singer bolted into the stratosphere socially and money-wise when her struggling composer husband finally hits pay dirt. But with the riches come inceased insecurity on Heyward's part, as her character descends from the "couple of drinks" drinker to real alcoholism and at one point loses custody of her baby.
This film makes an interesting compare/contrast with the prior year's "prestige film" success, LOST WEEKEND (1945). Of the two, LW treats its subject more graphically, and a bit more psychologically ("writer's block," we are told, but many critics have argued for homosexual guilt instead). Heyward's SMASH-UP deals with its subject under both old and new paradigms: the montage sequence of her dragging from one lounge to another in midtown Manhattan is well-done but the kind of already-cliched treatment so wittily sent up on TV's THE SIMPSONS. More convincing, or at least more in tune with our modern outlook, is the recognition that alcoholism is a disease, not a character defect as such.
Above all we have Heyward's trimphant and intense character making this well-cast and well-formed film her very own. Several years later TULSA gave her a real star vehicle: a rags to riches to rags saga of an Oklahoma cattle queen turned oil queen and at one point as environmentally unfriendly as the oil men she used to despise. An intense and bravura film in very strong color, but not as well cast nor played quite as well as SMASH-UP in my humble opinion.
Other than a newsreel and trailer there are no other bells-and-whistles on this film duo. The films are easy enough to watch but clearly did not receive the kind of digital restoration that comes almost automatically on so many films-to-DVD today. Still, good entertainment at a good price and I doubt that Heyward fans will have much to complain about.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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Beautiful and talented Angelica Evans (Susan Hayward) seems to have the world on a string, with a successful singing career and the man she loves, Ken Evans (Lee Bowman) poised for success of his own. Unfortunately Angelica lacks confidence, needing some heavy liquid courage before she goes on stage, and when she retires from it to become a full-time mommy and rich woman after Ken becomes a success along with his piano player/songwriting partner Steve (Eddie Albert), she also becomes a full-time alcoholic. As her circumstances and Ken's become easier and more lavish, she feels more and more hopeless and useless - and beging to suspect that Ken's beautiful and very smooth secretary Martha (Marsha Hunt) may be more than just an employee.
Hayward is great in the role that made her a star at age 30 and got her the first of five Oscar nominations. It's known that she was at times a hard drinker herself; whether this made her performance (one of several alcoholics she played, usually to Academy acclaim) any more real or not I wouldn't know, but she convincingly portrays the various stages in the decline of someone into absolute desperation, with the attendant lie-telling and self-loathing. She's riveting, and so are both Albert - as the long-suffering friend of both Angie and Ken, always trying to help them both keep it together - and Hunt as the scorned career-woman, ignored by most and hated by Angie in her boozy paranoia but in the end entirely sympathetic and even verging on tragic.
Unfortunately the last major player in this fairly intimate drama isn't quite up to the level of the others, and Lee Bowman's stiffness is compounded by his poor treatment by the scrïpt - he's called upon to essentially abandon his wife for his career with little explanation as to why it should have to be so. To be fair, Hayward's motivations aren't always clearly defined either, but her showy role allows us to forget some of the stupider choices she makes - and we can always blame it, as she does and eventually everyone else does, on the booze. In the end though, we have to blame a screenplay (by John Howard Lawson, from a story by Dorothy Parker) that quite deliberately throws dramatic moment after moment until a final, ludicrous resolution that feels forced - perhaps by the studio, perhaps by the Production Code. I guess in 1947 you could only be so daring.
Stuart Heisler's direction is fine throughout, fluid and shadowy, with many noirish touches, particulary in the opening and closing, as Hayward's life descends into nightmare; and Stanley Cortez' photography manages to showcase the lavish apartments and nightclub scenes with equal facility. Angie and Ken sing several songs - both Hayward and Bowman are dubbed, none too convingly - the best of which is a slightly treakly but rather beautiful ballad "Life Can Be Beautiful."
Fairly powerful at the beginning, with great, great acting by 3 of the 4 principals, this nevertheless ends up verging on mediocrity thanks to it's ending and some poor motivation and actions given in the seriously flawed screenplay. It coulda been a contender...
Two years later comes this second collaboration between director Heisler and star Hayward. This ends up being about the same quality overall - that is, worth a watch but ultimately just above passable - though unlike the previous film it never shows huge promise up-front, nor does it fall apart so ridiculously at the finish. Instead it's a fairly routine rise-to-power-while-forsaking-ethics tale, with I suppose some novel value in it being a woman (Hayward as 1920s Oklahoma oil baroness Cherokee Lansing) seduced by the power, only to realize in the end how little it's worth.
Filmed in color with a solid cast, most notably including Chill Wills as Cherokee's singing cousin Pinky (and the completely unnecessary narrator) and Robert Preston as college-boy Brad Brady, one of three men vying for Hayward's charms, this is basically a mild, by-the-numbers morality tale purporting to show the value of cooperation and conservation of resources (oil wells thriving side-by-side with ranches) as opposed to greedy get-rich-quick speculation; at the end when everybody including even the most-greedy oil magnate (Lloyd Gough) has come to his or her senses you can almost see the self-congratulatory, optimistic and pie-in-the-sky side of the 1950s opening out of this 1920s storyline.
Still Hayward and Wills are great, Preston is solid, and Pedro Armendariz is also a welcome part of the cast, as a childhood Indian friend of the quarter-Cherokee Ms. Lansing and one of her prospective suitors, trying to be the liberal conscience of the film and ultimately prevailing. The oil-fire action sequence at the end is reasonably exciting as well; all in all, not worth your effort if you're not a Hayward fan I suppose, but not bad if you are.
This VCI disc is short on supplements and the quality isn't the greatest, but I wouldn't hold my breath for any kind of amazing transfers of either of these films (especially TULSA) to show up, so it's certainly worth getting for any serious fans of the star.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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Susan Hayward is such a good actress and these are 2 of her best. Enjoyed looking at these and well worth the money to purchase.
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Favorite old movie, product arrived in time and as a CD it has not failed to function.