Deprived of a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Katie, Lillian Roth becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood ... See full summary »
Deprived of a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Katie, Lillian Roth becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, David Tredman, he dies and Lillian takes her first drink of many down the road of becoming an alcoholic. She enters into a short-lived marriage to an immature aviation cadet, Wallie, followed by a divorce and then marriage to a sadistic brute and abuser Tony Bardeman. After a failed suicide attempt, Burt McGuire comes to her aid and helps her find the road back to happiness after sixteen years in a nightmare world, not counting the first twenty with her mother. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
In her second autobiography published in 1958, "Beyond My Worth," Lillian Roth noted that although her mother Katie spoke with a Boston accent, Jo Van Fleet portrayed Katie as sounding ethnically Eastern European Jewish. See more »
When Susan is giving her "I'm a drunk" speech in the bar (at around 1h 16 mins) the woman she has accosted suddenly turns into a man in a dark suit. See more »
Based on Lillian Roth's autobiography - Hayward owns this role
I was shocked to learn that this was based on a true story about a singer/actress named Lillian Roth that was at her peak in the 1930's. That was well before my time, so no wonder I never heard of her. What a sad, tragic tale of alcoholism and the destruction it wrought in this woman's life. Add to that a driven stage mom who was pimping her and her sister out for entertainment - she first appeared on Broadway at the age of six. It's one thing when a child seeks out performing - but another when a parent pushes them.
I looked up photos of Lillian and she was a beautiful, vivacious looking woman in her youth. I didn't see any photos of her later in life - no telling what alcoholism did to her youth and beauty.
Hayward does an amazing job bringing this tragic tale to life. You feel every bit of her painful and tortured life. At first I thought this would be a typical 50's melodramatic soap opera tale. But it goes much deeper into a strong character study of this unfortunate woman's life and the leeches that attached themselves to her. I have not seen many of Hayward's performances but this undoubtedly has to be one of her finest. I was also impressed that Hayward did her own singing in this and did a good job of imitating Roth's deep vocal ranges and theatrical style. I listened to some of Roth's tunes on iTunes and was impressed with the similarity. However, if Roth were on American Idol today, Simon would slam her for being "over-the-top", too theatrical, and "over-singing". But that was the style back then.
My only criticism is that I'm not sure they went for realism in the retelling of the tale. It looks to be set more in the modern time is was filmed (1950's) rather than 30's and 40's when most of the events took place. Also, they kept Hayward's hair red rather than dark brown like Lillian's. Other than that, it was a very good film.
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