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Spotlighting Susan Hayward Via The Movie Poster

Susan Hayward is one of a small group of actresses including Maureen O’Hara, Olivia de Havilland and Virginia Mayo who I was always aware of at a young age. It had little to do with their good looks on camera but more in tune with the fact that they frequently appeared on screen opposite the movie heroes of my childhood. With Olivia it was Errol, Maureen it was Duke, Mayo and Kaye, which brings us to Susan who I didn’t identify immediately with a specific co-star. She just kept appearing in male oriented films I wanted to catch on the late show. Earliest memory I have of Miss Hayward? Probably an afternoon television showing of the 1954 western Garden Of Evil that starred both Gary Cooper and Richard Widmark.

Susan more than holds her own on screen opposite the pair of western stalwarts and I’d soon discover she was a first rate actress, more than willing to tangle with any leading man of her era. I quickly became a fan of the fiery redhead on screen as she sparred with the likes of Tyrone Power, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Jeff Chandler and Clark Gable among many others. Always giving as good as she got slugging it out in the trenches as if she was just another one of the boys. But of course she wasn’t “one of the boys” but a beautiful leading lady from Hollywood’s yesteryear who left us far too early in 1975 at just 57 years of age.

Once I caught on to her films and began to hunt them down I’d see her Oscar winning role in I Want To Live! which only confirmed that she could carry a film on her own without the big named co-star to compete with. Thankfully a good majority of her films are available to see today and after a quick check I see that I have 44 of her 64 IMDB credits here on the shelf at Mike’s Take.  Guess I’ll have to hunt those 20 other titles down.

Talking tough to kickstart the images…. “For five thousand dollars, I’m not afraid of anything, not even death!”

Ready for her close-up under Mr. DeMille’s tutelage.

No way this Italian poster is a 1943 vintage when the film originally came out. Judging by the image of Susan and Bill this looks like a rerelease from about 1955. Still, it’s a beautiful rendition.

Susan was a perfect fit for these tales of Noir and murder seen here opposite Robert Young and Jane Greer.

“I was a good girl once.”

I’ve always loved the western Rawhide. Ty: “Are you afraid of coyotes?” Susan: “Yeah, the kind with boots on.”

Flirting with the Academy for her role as Jane Froman.

“Jeff, can you hand me a towel?”

“We admire a magnificent animal who fights. Why not a man who fights ?”

Flirting again with Oscar on awards night.

If you know the story behind the movie then what happened off screen proved more tragic then what Howard Hughes released into movie houses. “Yes, he captured me – but he cannot tame me.”

and the Oscar goes to ….. Susan Hayward!

Dean : “You must have been a tough little girl.” Susan : “I’m a tough big one too.”

Susan would make a handful of movies through the 1960’s and end her career after appearing once again opposite William Holden in 1972’s The Revengers. After hunting around the vault here at Mike’s Take I’ve located a poster that frequent visitors should not be too surprised to see in my collection. It’s a 1957 copy of Top Secret Affair. A fun screwball comedy that cast tough guy Kirk Douglas opposite an equally tough Susan. Give it a look if you get the chance as well as any title featured above. If I missed a personal favorite shout it out in the comments section below.

If nothing else let’s all remember just how dynamic Susan Hayward could be on screen mixing beauty with a toughness that made her one of the premiere actresses of her era.

12 Comments »

  1. Great posters. Lovely tribute to Susan. Among my favourites are Rawhide, Garden of Evil, With a song in my Heart and Back Street.

  2. I can only claim to have seen a small handful of her movies so far, including Rawhide and Demetrius And The Gladiators, but I really enjoyed her performance in I Married A Witch. I just love watching her in that movie’s wedding scene!

    • Witch is a great film and I think it’s easy to forget she’s in it because her role is really secondary and in a way she’s the villain and we all want March to wind up with the kittenish Lake.

  3. One of my favorites of the classic-era actresses…I just need to see more of her movies. As soon as I started reading this review, I thought, my favorite performance of hers would have to be ‘Rawhide’…then a moment later, you mention ‘Rawhide’! I loved how tough she was in that one. And you own FORTY-FOUR of her movies? I have a grand total of TWO! It could’ve been three, if her scenes hadn’t been deleted from one. And yes, the artwork in that Italian poster is outstanding.

  4. I’m late commenting on this but couldn’t let it go by, she’s one of my top 5 favorite actresses! Love all the posters and the snippets of dialogue.

    I’ve managed to see all of her films, just finishing recently with her bit in the glug fest Comet Over Broadway where her billing is something along the lines of “actress in play” and she has only one throwaway line.

    She was one tough broad registering on screen as someone who was almost always in charge and woe to the fools who didn’t take her seriously and yet she almost never played a flat out villainess.

    She made very few films that I didn’t find some value in-White Witch Doctor, Thunder in the Sun and the obvious The Conqueror are the only ones I thought were just plain bad movies-but they do range from mediocre to excellent.

    My top 10 would run this way:
    1. The President’s Lady-This was the first place I saw her when I was a kid, it ran several times as a Movie of the Week-meaning it ran three times a day for a week so I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it! As Andrew Jackson’s hard luck wife Rachel she’s tough but shades it with a great deal of gentleness.
    2. The Lusty Men-What a great under-known gem this is!!
    3. Deadline at Dawn-Ditto the above statement.
    4. With a Song in My Heart-This would be the other that I saw all the time in my youth. It’s where I discovered Thelma Ritter.
    5. Ada-Inimitable-The staff meeting where she rips everyone a new one is simply a joy.
    6. Rawhide-Like seemingly everyone else I love how flinty she is here.
    7. I’d Climb the Highest Mountain-One of her quietest films and performances.
    8. I Married a Witch-Her role is small but she nails it.
    9. I’ll Cry Tomorrow
    10. I Want to Live!

    Runner-Ups:
    Adam Had Four Sons-the film is pretty weak but she is stunning as the scheming and cheap Hester and the movie only comes alive when she’s on screen especially in her interactions with Ingrid Bergman.
    Among the Living-Fascinating to see she and Frances Farmer in the same film. She on the way up and poor Frances most definitely on the descent.
    I Can Get It for You Wholesale
    The Lost Moment
    The Saxon Charm
    Smash-Up: Story of a Woman
    They Won’t Believe Me-I LOVE this one but her part really pales behind Jane Greer and particularly Rita Johnson’s.
    Valley of the Dolls-the movie is trash but she makes something of the barracuda Helen Lawson-along with Sharon Tate she’s the only thing worth seeing in the film.

    I also love her two TV movies-Heat of Anger and Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole-this one would have made a great series had her health not failed her.

    I found one of the last of hers that I was able to track down quite intriguing even if her role in it was negligible. Our Leading Citizen is quite political and in some ways very prescient presenting many interesting points. It’s not a great film but a rather good one that suffers from having a vapid leading man, Joseph Allen. If someone who was on the rise such as William Holden, who would have still been very callow in 1939 but who always exuded magnetism, or the established Gary Cooper had played the role the film would have been stronger.

    Sorry for the mega comment but once I started I couldn’t stop!!

    • This was an awesome reply. She was tough and I suppose driven in real life as well or perhaps the roles have me believing that. I’ve seen 8 of your top 10, By my count I’ve seen 30 of her films and have 44 here in the vault so still some catching up to do. My earliest memory as I mentioned is Garden of Evil so still love that flick and yup Rawhide. I too remember President’s Lady from younger years. I do have Maggie Cole VHS tape so maybe I’ll go dig it out of the closet/boxes. Cheers……

      • The toughness wasn’t an illusion. Two quotes come to mind, the first hers “I learned at a very early age that life is a battle…And it was there that i became a very determined woman” And Walter Wanger on her winning her Oscar “We can all relax now Susie’s got what she’s been chasing all these years” But I suppose it takes that kind of drive to claw your way up as she did and stay on top without deluding yourself. She also said she had no patience with the pretentious crowd saying “I’m no artiste, I’m just a working girl who worked her way to the top and never fell off.”

        I like Garden of Evil-and I love Richard Widmark!-but didn’t see it really early and often that adds an extra touch to a film….although I saw White Witch Doctor when I was a kid and thought it was the dumbest thing and still do.

        I’ll look forward to seeing what you think of those 14 films you have but haven’t seen yet.

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