Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman

Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman, also called A Woman Destroyed,[2] is a 1947 American drama film with elements of film noir loosely based on singer Dixie Lee‘s life, which tells the story of a rising nightclub singer who marries another singer, whose career takes off, then falls into alcoholism after giving up her career for him. The film stars Susan Hayward, Lee Bowman, and Eddie Albert, and was written by Frank Cavett, John Howard Lawson, Dorothy Parker, and Lionel Wiggam, and was directed by Stuart Heisler. Ethel Wales appears in an uncredited part.

Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman
DVD cover
Directed byStuart Heisler
Produced byWalter Wanger
Written byFrank Cavett
John Howard Lawson
Dorothy Parker
Lionel Wiggam
StarringSusan Hayward
Eddie Albert
Music byFrank Skinner
CinematographyStanley Cortez
Edited byMilton Carruth
Walter Wanger Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 1947 (1947-03)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,301,555[1]

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Susan Hayward) and Best Writing, Original Story.


In a hospital, Angie Evans (Susan Hayward), her face bandaged, recounts the events that brought her here.

A nightclub singer, Angie becomes involved with another singer, Ken Conway (Lee Bowman), whose career has yet to take off. Her agent Mike Dawson (Charles D. Brown) helps get Ken and piano accompanist Steve Anderson (Eddie Albert) a spot on a radio show singing cowboy songs. Ken sings a ballad on the day Angie, now his wife, gives birth to their daughter. The attention he gets leads to a new career opportunity.

Ken soon is a big success, gaining popularity and wealth, while Angie stays home, her career at a standstill. She begins to drink. Ken counts on her to present a sophisticated image for his new high-society friends and contacts, but her alcoholism worsens, so secretary Martha Gray (Marsha Hunt) comes to Ken's aid.

It isn't long before Angie is certain Martha and her husband are having an affair. Steve tries to intervene on Angie's behalf, but he can see Martha has fallen in love with Ken.

Angie neglects the child, continues to drink, then creates a scene at a party. Ken asks for a divorce and custody. Mike helps Angie get work in a club. She is determined to stay sober so she can regain custody of her daughter. Instead, she ends up in a bar, and wakes the next morning in the apartment of strangers who found her passed out on their stairs.

Angie kidnaps her daughter from the park while the nurse isn't watching. They go to a house in the country where Angie dutifully gives the child dinner and puts her to bed. After she sings her daughter to sleep, she forgets a lit cigarette in the room. Downstairs, she begins to drink and gets lost in memories. The child's shouts finally alert her and Angie rescues her from the flames, but herself suffers serious facial burns.

Realizing that she had hit rock bottom, Angie is positive now she can move forward happily. Ken has talked things over with her doctor and feels that he would like to try to stand by her.



According to Variety, the film earned $2 million in US box office receipts in 1947.[3]

The film lost $111,664 in its initial release.[1]

See also


  1. Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent, Minnesota Press, 2000 p443
  2. Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 83.
  3. "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
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