Film Review: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947)

Also known as: Smash-Up (working title, alternative title)
Release Date: March, 1947
Directed by: Stuart Heisler
Written by: Frank Cavett, John Howard Lawson, Dorothy Parker, Lionel Wiggam
Music by: Frank Skinner
Cast: Susan Hayward, Eddie Albert, Lee Bowman, Marsha Hunt

Walter Wanger Productions, Universal Pictures, 103 Minutes

Review:

“I just remembered, I have an appointment with a headache.” – Martha Gray, Elliot’s Secretary

I’ve heard good things about Smash-Up from multiple sources and books I’ve read on film-noir. Unfortunately, it didn’t resonate that strongly with me and just came across as fairly meh.

That’s not to say that the performances weren’t good. I’ve liked Susan Hayward in everything I’ve seen her do but even her performance didn’t really keep my interest for too long.

The story is about a woman that hits rock bottom and gets burned in a fire after her daughter almost burns. It’s one of those noir stories that starts at the end and then recounts the events that led the main character to their terrible fate. Granted, this one does have a more positive and hopeful outcome than say, Double Indemnity.

It’s also nowhere near as great and iconic as Double Indemnity.

While this came out in 1947, at the height of film-noir cinema, by that point it already seemed derivative of other movies like it. It feels like the plot of a half dozen Joan Crawford flicks but without the Crawford magic and intensity. Frankly, it feels like a lighthearted and thin copy by comparison.

In the end, I did like the music and Hayward was still good. I also liked Stanley Cortez’s cinematography but there are dozens of better noir pictures that deal with similar subjects.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other classic film-noir of the ’40s and ’50s.

Film Review: They Won’t Believe Me (1947)

Release Date: July 16th, 1947
Directed by: Irving Pichel
Written by: Jonathan Latimer, Gordon McDonell
Music by: Roy Webb
Cast: Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer, Rita Johnson

RKO Radio Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk. Only I wasn’t having any. I’d been too close to one explosion already. I was powder shy.” – Larry Ballentine

I’ve never seen this film-noir picture until I checked it out on TCM’s Noir Alley program. It is interesting, as it has a male in the traditional femme fatale role and even though the tale is told in flashback from a courtroom, there really wasn’t a crime committed in the film.

Robert Young, mostly known as a really nice guy thanks to his starring role in the television shows Father Knows Best and Marcus Welby, M.D., plays a selfish womanizing dope. His actions go on to ruin the lives of three women, as well as his own. His motivations don’t initially seem sinister, he is just out for himself but doesn’t really show the intent to hurt anyone. In fact, he does come off as guilt-ridden and remorseful when confronted with the consequences of his carelessness. Although, he does get to the point where he decides to murder his wife but he finds that she has committed suicide due to a broken heart.

Young played the role brilliantly and you couldn’t even really dislike him until murder came across his mind.

All three of the women in this film also did a fine job.

The ending was a bit bizarre but it was changed by the censors. Initially, Young’s character was supposed to jump from the courthouse window, committing suicide before the jury’s verdict. However, the ending was changed to a court officer shooting Young. The censors felt that a suicide would have had Young’s character evade the hand of justice.

They Won’t Believe Me is not an exceptional film-noir but it was much better than decent. The cinematography was pretty straightforward. There were no stylistic flourishes to set it apart from the norm but everything was well shot and well captured.

The picture isn’t forgettable but it also isn’t that memorable, unless you’re a Young fan. It exists in a vast sea of film-noir at the height of that cinematic style.

Rating: 7/10