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Thursday, July 10th 2014


The Conqueror (RKO, 1956)

The Conqueror (RKO), 1956

July 10, 2014


The Conqueror, an epic filmed in cinemascope , was produced by Howard Hughes, and directed by Dick Powell.  It has been considered one of the worst films of the 1950’s, and has been on different “worst” lists as one of the worst films ever, despite it’s stellar cast.  John Wayne comes off as a ridiculous Genghis Kahn.  Although most of us adore the Duke, in this particular film he is Genghis Kahn on the range. It doesn't work.  Susan Hayward, however, is beautiful as Bortai, and gives it her best although she said later “I had hysterics all through that one. Every time I had a scene I dissolved in laughter. Me, a red-haired Tartar princess. It looked like some wild Irishman had stopped on the road to Cathay.”


Susan Hayward as Bortai portrays the beautiful daughter of the Tartar leader, Kumlek (Ted de Corsia), who had killed Temujin's father.  Temujin and his Mongols attack Bortai's caravan and capture her. Despite the pleading of his mother, Hulun (Agnes Moorhead) to release Bortai, Temujin refuses. He is smitten with her.  


Bortai’s people rescue her, but she is later captured again by Temujin who says he will make her his wife.  Bortai is disgusted with Temujin and resists.


The Mongols are invited to a banquet by the great leader, Wang Kahn (Thomas Gomez). At the banquet, Susan, as Bortai, performs one of her most famous movie scenes, a two sword-dance where at the end of the dance she flings one of the swords at Wang Khan. Temujin and Wang Kahn later join forces to defeat the Tartars. Before they can put their plan into action, Bortai  escapes and Temujin is wounded. Jamuga, Temujin’s brother, (Pedro Armendariz) mistakenly leads the Tartars to Temujin’s hiding place. Bortai’s father sentences Temujin to death, but she has fallen in love with him, and so she sets him free.

Temujin is convinced that Wang Khan will become his enemy. He captures Khan’s city and becomes ruler of the Mongols. Temajin kills Bortai’s father in battle, and she later becomes his wife. Temajin becomes  the great Genghis Khan.


Side Notes – The Conqueror is now mostly known for the “Cancer Controversy”  It was shot on location in St. George, Utah, not many miles from US governmet nuclear testing. Many in the cast later died of cancer. Among those were John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dick Powell, Pedro Armendariz, Agnes Moorhead, John Hoyt, and others of the cast and crew. What is controversial is that many of those who later succumbed to cancer were also smokers.


Quotes:  Hunlun (Agnes Moorhead) “My son has won the world. Still he must conquer that red-headed Jezebel”


Temujin (John Wayne) “For good or ill, she is my destiny.”


Bortai (Susan Hayward) The Conqueror? Mighty armies cannot stop him But one touch of my lips….Yes, he captured me-but he cannot tame me.”


~~Ginger Haydon








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Friday, June 20th 2014


The Lusty Men (RKO, 1952)

Louise Merritt (Susan Hayward) and her husband, Wes Merritt (Arthur Kennedy), desperately want to buy their own home and land. They meet up with Jeff (Robert Mitchum) a washed up rodeo rider who has seen his best days. Wes wants to make more money so he and Louise can buy their own place. He and Jeff team up to enter rodeo events with Jeff as Wes' manger. Louise does not approve but reluctantly goes along with their plan.

The story unfolds with a triangle of relationships. Jeff is interested in Louise, Louise loves Wes, but uses Jeff.

 The film was directed by Nicholas Ray and is considered his finest work.  The rodeo scenes were filmed at actual rodeo events. There were several famous rodeo stars in the film.

 Susan Hayward gives a strong performance and looks as beautiful portraying the common, ordinary housewife wearing plain attire as she does when she portrays more elegant roles dressed to the nines. There is a rowdy, fun, and memorable scene in the film where Susan as Louise gets into a spirited brawl with starlet Eleanor Todd with Louise winning as she literally gives Todd the boot!

 From all accounts it seems that Mitchum and Hayward did not get along well off screen, but their chemistry on screen is good, probably because there is animosity with their characters and real life just fit right into the scheme.

 Side notes - The original title for "The Lusty Men" was to have been "This Man Is Mine." Susan had been traded out to RKO; therefore, Howard Hughes chose her for the role of Louise.  The film was originally made in black and white, but there is a colorized version. In my opinion, the black and white works best for this story. It adds to the starkness and realism of the film.


Quote: Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) "Hope's a funny thing. You can have it even when there ain't no reason for it."


~~~~Ginger Haydon









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Thursday, June 12th 2014


The President's Lady (20th Century Fox) 1953

Susan Hayward gives one of the most remarkable performances of her career as she portrays Rachel Donelson Jackson, beloved wife of Andrew Jackson who became President of the United States in 1829. Throughtout the film Susan Hayward is transformed from a young woman of 18 to a mature woman of 61. As Hayward ages, she skilfully adapts the mannerisms of an older woman. In one or two scenes she most charmingly smokes a pipe with her husband, Andrew (Charlton Heston).

The film beautifully tells the story of Rachel and Andrew's love for each other. They were "married" for two years before they discovered that their marriage was not legal since the divorce from her first husband was deemed to be invalid. They eventually remarried, but the stigma followed them throughout their lives. It was especially hard on Rachel. She was not accepted in "finer" circles of society, and was often taunted and ridiculed. Andrew always tried to defend her whether it be arguments or fist fights. He even killed a man in a duel for the honor of his Rachel. After the duel he vowed he would lift her so high that none would ever dare say a word against her. 

Rachel Jackson died three months before Andrew's inauguration. The death scene is heartbreaking as Andrew clings to Rachel. It is one of the most touching of screen moments.


Side notes: The film was based on Irving Stone's book "The President's Lady."......This was the second of Susan Hayward's films which she narrated.....Years later, Charlton Heston recalled that his relationship with Susan Hayward during the film was "very easy" and "a cordial working ambiance."


Quote: President Andrew Jackson - "No man can say what he will about my wife!! Rachel, I've failed you a great many times and a great many ways and I hope you'll forgive me. But I couldn't expect you to forgive me if I lived without honor!"


~~~~Ginger Haydon









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Thursday, June 5th 2014


The Saxon Charm (Universal International) 1948

Janet Busch (Susan Hayward) plays the dedicated, supportive wife to successful author, Eric Busch (John Payne). Eric is flattered and excited when he finds out that theater producer, Matt Saxon (Robert Montgomery) wants to produce his play. Saxon invites Eric and Janet to dinner to meet his friends--Alma Wragg (What a name!....Audrey Totter), Zack Humbler (Harry Von Zell), and Dolly Humber (Cara Williams).

The restaurant scene is expertly played by the actors, and it is a memorable one. It is uncomfortable to watch which attests to the skill of the cast. Here Matt Saxon's arrogance and temper are in full display since the food and service are not to his liking.  Saxon insists that the group leave, storming out of the restaurant. The story continues to revolve around Saxon and how the lives of those who surround him are affected by his own hatred of people, places, and things....but mostly his hatred for himself.

Audrey Totter is outstanding as the nightclub singer who is in love with Matt Saxon. Personally, it is wonderful for me to see Susan Hayward and Audrey Totter in a film together since both are favorites of mine. According to an interview I have read, Susan and Audrey got along well together off screen also. For me, the "charm" here is Susan Hayward and Audrey Totter in the same film.

Susan Hayward, as always, is beautiful in the film, yet her role sometimes comes across as secondary. As Janet, she does have Matt Saxon's "number" early on and is convincing as Eric's loving wife who only wants the best for him.

Side note: Henry Morgan is also in the film portraying Saxon's brow beaten manager. Cara Williams and Morgan starred together in the 1950's television show, "Pete and Gladys." Also, Barbara Billingsly ("Leave It To Beaver"...Mom) is an extra in a scene at Eric and Janet's apartment.

Robert Montgomery as Saxon: restaurant scene... "Let's quit this fascist pesthole."

~~~~Ginger Haydon

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Wednesday, May 28th 2014


Garden of Evil (1954) (20th Century Fox)

The setting is in a deserted Mexican village. Leah (Susan Hayward) is looking for someone to help her go up into the mountains to resuce her injured husband who is trapped in a goldmine. She meets up with three goldhunters who are stuck in the village for a few weeks until a steamboat engine is repaired...Hooker (Gary Cooper), Fiske (Richard Widmark),and Daly (Cameron Mitchell)...She offers to pay them $2,000 each for their help. They take her up on her offer,Vincente (Victor Manuel Mendoza) comes along as their guide, and their treacherous adventure begins.

The journey is rugged but spectacular in cinematic beauty.The scenery almost becomes another character. Despite the guide suspiciously marking their trail, Daly trying to force his affections on Leah, and Siske being his sarcastic, "uncaring" self, Leah presses forward with steely determination. She manuevers the difficult terrain on horseback as well or better than the men. In one scene she leads the way in a tense scene where they have to ride their horses across a break in the rocky mountain ledge with the audience aware that if one of them missed, it would be certain death. Hooker (Gary Cooper) is the only one of the group who who demonstrates a sense of protection and empathy for Leah.

When they reach the "Garden of Evil", they find her trapped husband,Fuller (Hugh Marlowe). They try to help him but then there is the danger of Indians and the intensity builds.

Susan Hayward, as Leah, was forceful in this role, as the woman trying to rescue her trapped husband, who in the end, didn't seem to have much love or appreciation for her. With her real life expertise and background in horseback riding,along with her flaming red hair, she was as Fiske said when she first made her entrance in the film, "The Red Queen."

Side note: During the filming of "Garden of Evil" Susan Hayward rescued a young Indian boy when he almost fell off a lava ledge on Paricutin Mountain. He was in great danger as he was very close to falling another 15 feet. Susan quickly jumped down to the ledge, risking harm to herself,and grasped the boy. Her heroism made the papers as you can see in the small article inserted here.


 Hooker: "I guess if the earth were made of gold, men would die for a handful of dirt."

Hooker: "A cross isn't a bad thing to see. It can be beautiful, and everybody has one."

Ginger Haydon



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Tuesday, May 20th 2014


I Can Get It For You Wholesale (1951, 20th Century Fox)

Susan Hayward portrays Harriet Boyd, a model at a 7th Avenue garment center in New York City.  Harriet has high ambitions. She wants to design clothes for her own company. Her co-partners in her new business will be Teddy Sherman (Dan Dailey) and Sam Cooper (Sam Jaffe). Their new business is barely off the ground when J.F. Noble (George Sanders) becomes interested in Harriet's designs and particularly in Harriet herself. Thus, the conflicts begin.

The film is in black and white which gives it a somewhat lingering sense of detachment. I'm a fan of black and white, but I think this one would have been best to have been filmed in glorious technicolor. One can only imagine Susan's flaming red hair along with the beautiful gowns worn by her and others if it had been in color.......Think "Back Street."
Susan Hayward portrays Harriet Boyd perfectly. She is the tough, ambitious, self-centered female who in the end redeems herself as she discovers that she can compromise her ambitions and still hold on to what is dearest in life which are the people who love and care for her.
On the screen Susan Hayward was often ahead of her time. She was never afraid to play a strong woman and reflected that she was on equal ground with the men. This was a long view for the early 1950's. Susan had a unique gift for winning the admiration and affection of both men and women. The men loved her beauty, and the women also loved her beauty, but more importanly, women related to the messages she gave out to them --survivor, strong,determined...but also, feminine and always that touching vulnerability that endeared her to us.
As a side note, Lillian Roth (whom Susan portrayed in the film "I'll Cry Tomorrow") starred in the Broadway musical production of  "I Can Get It For You Wholesale" several years later). Elliott Gould played Susan's character on stage. In the original story, the lead character was male.
Savage, a buyer..."Hey Miss, I think I've seen you here before."...yes, you're the young lady who said she goes to night school, or did you say you had a sick mother"
Harriet......"I've said both, Mr. Savage."
Teddy, Harriet's love interest....."What are you doing for lunch"
Harriet... "fasting"
Teddy..."What about tonight?"
Harriet..."Reading the small print from Women's Wear Daily to my blind grandmother."
"I Can Get It For You Wholesale" is smart, sophisticated, and as sharp as a two-edged sword.
~~Ginger Haydon
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Wednesday, May 14th 2014



Welcome to my first blog entry about the flaming redhead from Brooklyn, classic film star, Susan Hayward!

I vaguely remember seeing Susan Hayward in a few films when I was very young. These memories seem to be just flashes of "Demetrius and the Gladiators" and "I'd Climb The Highest Mountain."

It was at age 13 when Susan Hayward first made an impression upon me.  I saw her in "Back Street" at our local theater in a little town in Arkansas. I got bitten by the Susan Hayward bug at that time, and happily have never gotten over it!

After over 50 years of being a Susan Hayward fan, of studying her films, collecting photos and information, and meeting mutual fans, thanks to the internet, I have been able to share my love and affection for her life and her work, to introduce her to people who have never heard of her, and to help keep her memory alive for others who are interested in knowing about her and learning from her.

My idea for this blog is to focus on her work in films, but I'm flexible, and as the blog evolves, I might can write about other aspects.  

I have been so blessed over the years to come into contact with so many wonderful people, many who will be lifelong friends, who share a mutual interest in Susan Hayward. And they, like me, have learned that they aren't the only ones!  

For further information, I have a homepage called Susan Hayward Classic Film Star. The website is http://www.susanhaywardclassicfilmstar.com

I also have a facebook page for Susan Hayward entitled Susan Hayward Classic Film Star. The website url is http://www.facebook.com/SusanHaywardClassicFilmStar

I will try to blog at least once a week. You are welcome to comment and submit suggestions or critiques for the blog.

~Ginger Haydon

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