Hayward stars as Lillian Roth (based on Roth's autobiography of the same name), Broadway and Hollywood singing sensation, who let success slide through her fingers as she reached for the next drink.
As a child, Lillian is driven unmercifully by her ambitious stage mother (Jo Van Fleet) and has already begun appearing on Broadway and being the breadwinner by the time she is a teenager. As an adult, Roth (Susan Hayward) falls in love with an old friend (Ray Danton) who dies unexpectedly,
precipitating a lengthy downward spiral.
Although the script doesn't capture much sense of period or time passing, Mann establishes enough strong moments to keep the viewer enthralled. There's a fine child performance by Carole Ann Campbell, who looks like the real Roth, and scores strongly in a post-audition scene that is painful to
watch. Indeed, the film dotes on an uneasy sense of dread, daring you not to look away. Hayward doesn't suggest much of what audiences saw in the real Roth. Instead she uses her own sexy, hellcat persona when performing, saving contemplation for her big offstage scenes. The scene in which Hayward
deserts her mother is one of Hollywood's grittiest examinations of the love-hate relationship between parent and child, the cross-purposes of both characters wrenching to behold. Both actresses seem to be defining their boundaries and crossing each other's at the same time, using the
hyper-emotional 50s genre in a devastatingly successful way.
Roth made a successful nightclub and theatrical comeback after the film's release, and published a second memoir, Beyond My Worth, but, tragically, her bouts with alcohol were far from finished. Hayward won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for TOMORROW and Helen Rose grabbed an Oscar
for her gorgeous costumes.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Hayward stars as Lillian Roth (based on Roth's autobiography of the same name), Broadway and Hollywood singing sensation, who let success slide through her fingers as she reached for the next drink. As a child, Lillian is driven unmercifully by her ambiti… (more)