Take a celebrity murder trial, filter it through the grimy typewriter of Harold Robbins, then use the resulting best seller as a vehicle for Susan Hayward and Bette Davis, and you have camp treasure. Though the story is based on the Lana Turner-Johnny Stompanato murder case, Hayward and Davis make "Where Love Has Gone" their own. Hayward plays an acclaimed sculptress from a wealthy family, who also is, like many Harold Robbins' female characters, a promiscuous harpy. The blame for her wild behavior falls squarely on the gray head of her controlling mother, Davis. Thrown in are Michael Mannix, as the war hero Hayward marries, and a young Joey Heatherton, as their helmet-haired daughter who stabs Hayward's lover. Mannix is quickly buried in the rubble of scenery left behind by Hayward and Davis. Hayward, in particular, really tears into her role. Anyone who sees this movie should know that she was born to play the Helen Lawson role in "Valley of the Dolls" a few years later--though she only got the part when Judy Garland was canned. Even in her tender moments Hayward sounds like she's trying to pick up sailors in a bar. Davis, by comparison, is almost restrained. She also seems slightly drunk, like she belted back a few before she had to go on set to manipulate the other players. She practically announces her lines, then does a quick mental retreat. Poor Joey Heatherton really has nothing to do other than whine "Daddy" repeatedly and churlishly ask for cigarettes. Then again, no performance Heatherton would give on film could ever equal the drama of her personal life.
As if Hayward and Davis weren't enough, check out the set and costume design. The Hayward and Mannix's mod '60s home is truly spectacular--it's like the Brady Bunch won the lottery. And look at the use of color. In one scene Hayward's scarf and slacks and social worker Jane Greer's suit are in complimentary shades of green that match the walls of the room. The only other example of such extreme color coordination I can think of is in the Barbra Streisand movie "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Also marvel at how everyone in the movie, including Heatherton--who's supposed to be 15--is made to look like they're no younger than 40. But what makes this movie a true "must-see" are the scenes of Susan Hayward welding. It's one of those moments that virtually define the term "camp." Yet, while campy, this misogynistic chick flick (only Harold Robbins...) doesn't quite garner the "camp classic" stamp--it's just a little too reserved for that. Still, "Where Love Has Gone" makes for fun viewing.