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If you're a fan of Susan Hayward this film has everything you need.
An old-fashioned melodrama with all the trimmings Susan rules over this with a velvet glove. She's a girl from "the wrong side of the tracks", a prostitute in a roadside honky tonk who makes the acquaintance of a dim hayseed one night. He has a way with a song and isn't clever enough to see that he is being used as a dim bulb stooge by a political machine to take him to the governor's mansion. The film offers nothing new on this age old chestnut but the presentation is what counts here.
A star vehicle to be sure slanted Susan's way much more than Dean's even though he gets a moment here and there. Spotlighted in a way stars never are today Susan commands the screen. Notice that she is surrounded only by colors that flatter her, the rooms she finds herself in are almost exclusively white or a soft green to highlight her flame colored tresses. Even the roadhouse where she starts the story has that high class sheen that is a hallmark of the studio era.
The performances are excellent. Dean ambles through without too much to do but handles his one big scene well. Martin Balsam and Ralph Meeker are solid as Dean's trusted friend and a slimy cop respectively but it's Wilfred Hyde-White who stands out as the reptilian political operator who crosses swords with Susan. Therein lies the meat of the story and the basic enjoyment of the film. When these two old pros square off the fireworks are a treat, although Susan gets a couple of other chances on her own to rip apart the unsuspecting when she discovers malfeasance.
A few interesting side notes. The actress playing Susan's madam, Connie Sawyer known as the oldest working actress in Hollywood, is still alive and appearing in small parts at 102 as of November 2014.
The other note is a bit more somber, as she entered the end of her cancer struggle Susan Hayward's friends told her they had arranged for her to see any of her films that she wanted and she selected this film much to their surprise. In hindsight though it's easy to see why, every effort is made to make her look her best, its set in the south which had been her home for many years during her happy second marriage and her part is tailor made to many of her strengths.
If you love Susan Hayward or old time studio made melodramas don't miss this!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ada is Ada Dallas ,a young woman who earns a living as "a lady of the night " in a Memphis drinking establishment, where she meets the laconic and easy going Bo ,who is running for the governorship of a Southern state ,trading on a man of the people image and peppering his political rallies with songs. Ada is a determined and forceful woman who charms Bo and they soon marry to the disquiet of his political adviser, the manipulative Sylvester. Bo wins the election -thanks in no small measure to the less than ethical actions of Sylvester -and is installed in the gubnatorial mansion where he is treatd as a puppet by the entrenched interests ,all in thrall to Sylvester.When he makes a stand Bo is almost killed and it is Ada ,who as acting Governor sets out to reform the political system and attack its corruption. Susan Hayward as Ada dominates the movie giving a fine portrayal of a strong woman ,facing down the social snobbery of the ruling elite within the state and striving with might and main to overcome her past.It is a part tailor made for her and she plays it to the hilt.Martin is suitably self effacing as Bo and strong support comes from Ralph Meeker as a police chief on the take ,and from Martin Balsam as a P R man.Wilfred Hyde-White is miscast as Sylvester his pronounced British accent seemingly out of place. Its a bit reminiscent of the Frank Capra movies of the thirties in its take on political corruption and the ending is a little too pat . A solid 100 or so minutes and enjoyable for devotees of soap opera even so
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie "Ada" hasn't received the good publicity it deserved. Susan Hayward acted her best as a hard-spoken woman, intent on serving her new husband Bo Gilles (Gubernatorial Candidate) well. Three weeks before the election, Candidate Bo Gilles (played by Dean Martin - in his first drama picture) marries Ada, a former prostitute. Basically, Bo was not a shrewd politician, but possessed charismatic qualities and was elected in a landslide. The voters of that Southern state loved Bo, and saw him as a regular guy who even played guitar and sang. Eventually Bo realizes the crookedness of the powerful man who had sponsored him, (Sylvester Marin), and the corruption abounding in that government. Eventually Ada's past comes back to haunt her, but it doesn't stop her. Colonel Yancey top State Policeman, (a crooked operator, well-played by Ralph Meeker) tries to bring Ada down - who at the time is Acting Governor. The entire movie is riveting, and is a must-see if you like real movies.
Susan Hayward right after her triumph in I Want To Live had a string of
hit movies: Woman Obsessed, Marriage Go Round, Back Street and this
film Ada. Ada was filmed at MGM with Hayward's favorite Director Daniel
Mann at the helm and was produced by Hayward's Chalmar Production
Company. The Hayward-Mann connection was responsible for Susan
Hayward's favorite film I'll Cry Tomorrow also at MGM which won the
Star the Cannes Film Festival Award and an Oscar nomination. This film
lavishly produced by MGM centers around Ms. Hayward playing a tramp who
marries the Governor of a Southern State played by Dean Martin, and
eventually becomes Governor due to an assignation attempt on the
Governor played by Dean Martin. Susan Hayward's skill as an actress and
Dean Martin's fine leading Man work mesh well together.
Supporting players include Martin Balsam and Ralph Meeker both ably acquit themselves. I liked the scene where Meeker tries to blackmail La Hayward as the Governor's wife. Susan Hayward-ever in control simply slaps Meeker and moves on. ( In my opinion Meeker should have been a major star) Wlfrid Hyde White plays a very wily Southern politician.
For the record as is part of Susan Hayward legend, Of all Ms Hayward's classic films such as I Want To Live, Smash Up, My Foolish Heart, etc, Ada is the film Susan Hayward requested to see just before Ms Hayward died of brain cancer.
Also note that there are many scenes with bouquets of yellow Roses. said to be Ms Hayward's favorite flower, Susan Hayward carries a big bouquet of yellow roses to Mr. Hyde-White.
Ada is a Susan Hayward movie, if you like Ms. Hayward -and I do!- you will like this film.
The conclusion of the film is intelligent where Susan Hayward and Martin reconcile and walk out of the State Capitol as equals.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For me, this film started off with a leg up because of the two stars.
I'm a huge Dean Martin fan, and Susan Hayward has always been a
favorite. Having said that, I still think this film is
I've heard people say that the plot's not really believable. It's about as believable as the plots of most films. And, it's loosely based on some real southern history -- multiple times in fact, and most recently in the case of Lurleen Wallace, wife to George Wallace. However -- despite the modernity of Hayward's attire in the film -- this film was set during the Great Depression...and in the deep South. So I think the basic plot is quite believable.
As much as I enjoy Dean on film, a better southern accent would have helped (which he certainly achieved in "Some Came Running"). However, he's supposed to be a bit of a bumpkin in this role, and I think he plays it as needed. Susan Hayward...well, she has "spunk", and it really showed in this film. When you went to a Susan Hayward film, this is exactly the kind of portrayal you wanted to see.
There are also a couple of superb supporting performances. Wilfred Hyde-White is brilliant as the dirty politician. True, his British accent showed through a tad, but his delight in playing the villainous role more than made up for that. An actor I usually don't really appreciate -- Ralph Meeker -- ably portrays the sleazy "colonel" in the state police and militia -- a wonderful performance. Martin Balsam is also very good as the speech writer/college boy working for the governor, but his role needed to be expanded just a bit. Balsam was one of those reliable character actors throughout much of the latter half of the 1900s. Frank Maxwell also has a good role as the lieutenant governor here, and joins a number of recognizable character actors in support of the primary cast.
I also have to mention the direction of the film. It would have been very easy to overdo it with the southern aspect of the film, and shove that southern malaise down our throats (as Lillian Hellman sometimes did). Director Daniel Mann resisted that temptation, and also "the South" was always there, it didn't overwhelm the story.
The Warner Archives has recently (2012) released this film, although it has not been restored. My biggest complaint with the DVD is a lack of crispness (though not bad), and variations in skin tone throughout the film...often too red. But, it's still nice to have it out in reasonable quality.
Yup, I'm a bit prejudiced here, but this has always been a particular favorite of mine. I highly recommend it, soap-sudsy as it may seem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I enjoyed this Susan Hayward film, even if it had a few holes in its
overall plot. No film can be truly bad with someone like Susan Hayward
in it (and yes, I think that goes for Valley of the Dolls (1967) too),
so you can't really lose if you watch a Susan Hayward film. She's
confident, aggressive, smart, sassy, and attractive.
As for the film itself, it had some gaping plot holes. For instance, why did Sylvester end up in a wheelchair being pushed around by a nurse? Was something cut and never explained in the final cut?
Another hole: I believe that digging up the dirt that someone worked as a prostitute would be fairly easy to find. They had detectives in those days too. You would think that Ada's past would have caught up with her much earlier.
Another thing: as one reviewer also said, in the story various characters speak of the rough economic times sort of alluding to the Great Depression, yet the movie looks like a movie from the sixties. What's up with that?
Even though the ending is sort of Pollyannish, the film works in its Frank Capra kind of way showing that the common man can make changes in a corrupt political environment. It was interesting to watch the movie realizing that we are still in the same sad shape with many lying and evil politicians.
The film is worth watching, even if it is rather forgotten.
This is an MGM potboiler with great colors and weak credibility. The picture was probably the best that repressed Hollywood could do at the time with the legend of Earl Long, once Governor of Louisiana, and the stripper Blaze Starr. (The story was filmed many years later, with Paul Newman and Lolita Davidovich.) A singing, guitar-playing candidate for Governor in the Depression South is quite historical. The sly self-deprecation in Bo Gillis's stump speech at the beginning of the picture is well done. But once he hooks up with Susan Hayward, Dean Martin becomes a marshmallow. The role must have appealed tremendously to a tough broad like Hayward. She was a perfect choice for Barbara Graham in I Want to Live. I'd call the picture a failure with interesting features.
The stars of this movie caught my eye when I checked this out of my local library, otherwise, I probably would have avoided it since it was such an obscure title. I just watched it with my mom who enjoyed it. I did too though I noticed it skimped on some details concerning the way corruption is possibly handled in politics. But it's fun seeing Dean Martin, Susan Hayward, and Wilfrid Hyde-White spar on screen as well as Ralph Meeker and Martin Balsam also around when it comes time to pick the good guys and the bad. Don't know if Dean's character is based on anyone from my home state of Louisiana who was elected governor but it's interesting when he's compared to some of them in other reviews on this site. Anyway, that's a recommendation of Ada.
Though entertaining enough, "Ada" does not belong in the top tier of Susan Hayward showcases. She's terrific as always, in a role that suits her, but too much in this stretches credibility and lacks proper transitioning. I blame the script, plus Susan and Dean Martin don't especially click together. The film is set in the South and, even though it says Ada comes from Alabama originally, its never made clear which state the action occurs in. The period is also not spelled out, though at the beginning, as Martin is campaigning, he passes a movie theater showing "Escapade", a 1935 William Powell vehicle. Yet, the clothing and hairstyles are definitely not 30's style. Two fine character actors, Martin Balsam and Ralph Meeker, are not given enough to do in support, while Wilfred Hyde-White never seems quite right as wily power-behind-the-scenes Sylvester Marin, his British accent out of place even with a layer of Southern drawl superimposed over it. All in all, you'll be entertained by this combination of "All the King's Men" and "A Face in the Crowd" with sudsy soap opera, but don't expect greatness.
"Ada" has a good premise, but unfortunately does not evolve into a good
movie. The soapy melodrama about a "puppet" gubernatorial candidate
to a prostitute does not due justice to the talents of its stars. The fine
talents of the three main stars are not fully explored, and their
are likewise underdeveloped. The ending is hardly probable, and as a
resolution, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The cast do the best they can with the material they have. Dean Martin and Susan Hayward are both quite credible in their highly emotional performances. Wilfrid Hyde-White is also good in portraying a grasping and stifling villain, an unusual role for him.
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