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Susan Hayward was a great actress, a stunning beauty, and a box office
movie queen. One went to see a "Susan Hayward" picture full well
knowing that the film would be centered on the dynamic fashionable
The Mirisch Corporation remade "Dark Victory" and called it "Summer Flight" and cast Ms Hayward in the role Bette Davis made legendary. Bette Davis was none too happy re this film noting "Some Pictures Should Never Be Remade" Bette Davis and Susan Hayward would co star in 'Where Love Has Gone' a year later and the Ladies did not get along at all. Wonder if Susan Hayward's starring in 'Summer Flight' got under Bette's skin? Up to their working on 'Where Love Has Gone', Bette Davis was famously quoted "There was no one whose performance I admired more than Susan Hayward" Susan Hayward would join Joan Crawford and Miriam Hopkins as well as later on Lillian Gish and Faye Dunaway on Bette Davis' hate list.
Transferring the locale to the British Isles, this UA film is stunning in its scenic beauty, and allows Susan Hayward to give a very fine performance. Diane Baker handles a supporting role well. The climatic ending is well known and Ms. Hayward plays it beautifully and with restraint as directed by Daniel Petrie.
'Summer Flight' was also called "Stolen Hours". I recommend this film to see an artist of the first rank Susan Hayward essay a great woman's role. They just don't make movie stars like Susan Hayward anymore!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film deserves an "8" because it accomplishes what it sets out to
do with no phony tear-jerking or sugar-coating. Most melodramas of this
genre just consist of a leading lady getting clobbered by contrived
plots. Not this one.
Susan Hayward delivers an excellent performance. Nothing more can be said except: just watch it and see for yourself. Probably the fact that this is so definitely a "genre" film prevented her from any possibility for acting awards here.
The script is far above-average and much better than you could possibly expect. Even if you don't like this type of drama, if you pay careful attention to the script you will be very impressed.
This is a rare women's drama wherein the requisite tall dark and handsome stud of a lead actor also delivers a fine, sensitive performance. Don't know much about British actor Michael Craig but anyone viewing his performance here would be interested in seeing more of his work.
I believe there is some inside melodrama humor in this film as Hayward's character asks which man she is supposed to meet at the party and is told "He's the tall, dark and handsome one there at the bar". Also her character doesn't like parties or the mansion she owns. Also, at the party her dress looks almost exactly the same as the draperies in the library- this must be an inside joke of some sort.
Hayward's natural, direct acting is a complete pleasure to watch. It's very well complemented by the sincere Michael Craig. Also in the cast is one of the most subtle and delicate actresses of the 1960's, Diane Baker. Ms. Baker is one of those forgotten actresses who should be better remembered.
A very intelligent screenplay by Jessamyn West, updating the classic 1939 "Dark Victory" (which in turn was derived from the 1934 Broadway play of the same name). Although some of the character structuring is changed (the best friend of the protagonist now becomes her younger sister, for example) and the geography moves from NYC, Long Island and Vermont to London and the English countryside, still the basic story and message remain intact - to use one's life to achieve something of value. My only complaint, and an ambivalent one to be sure, is the casting of Susan Hayward in the lead. Although this legendary actress does a terrific job with the part, she was simply too old for the role at the time. (In "D.V.", the doomed heroine was 23, in this picture Hayward was already 45 - so her untimely death seems a little less tragic, the talk of having children with her much-younger doctor-husband is less credible, etc.); overall, however, a perfectly sound film, with some truly lovely photography of the Kentish countryside and the Cornish coast.
Perhaps I am too much of a fan of Susan Hayward to be objective, but this film, which I saw when I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore in college, was one of the most memorable films I have seen. It was definitely a "chick flick" and my friends and I, needing a break from studying, went to see it only because there was nothing else playing. The film's emotional impact caught me off guard. I remember walking out of the theater after seeing the film. I recall walking into the damp San Jose, California night and feeling the pleasure ordinary sensations at a much more intense level - the cold fog against my face, the street lights reflected off of the wet streets, the sound of my footsteps on the sidewalk - the appreciation of each moment of life. Perhaps some would say Hayward was too old for the part. But Hawyard, as she had demonstrated over and over again (e.g. I Want to Live), could carry a film on the power of her acting. And at 45, she was still a knock out - even in the eyes of a 19-year old. Like many great actresses, she overacted. If you could accept it and allow her to draw you in, you could experience her character at a deeper emotional level than you would ever enjoy had she been held back by a director who did not appreciate her artistry. I highly recommend this film. I would, however, recommend that the film be viewed on a big screen. The cinematography is an important part of the film and it cannot be appreciated on a TV screen. Two other fabulous actresses did this story: Betty Davis in the original Dark Victory, and Elizabeth Montgomery in an excellent made-for-TV piece made, as I recall, in the 1980's. Both were fantastic. But I believe that you will find Susan Hayward's interpretation to be more compelling.
In an eerie foreshadowing of her own fate Susan Hayward plays a wealthy
socialite with a fatal brain tumor in this reworking of Dark Victory.
The original is far superior but this has a lush production and some breath taking scenery of the Cornish coast, so beautiful you'll want to hop a plane and move there by the end of the picture, to recommend it.
Susie's customary strong performance is also a highlight but she doesn't get as deeply under the skin of the character of Laura Pember as Bette Davis did with Judith Traherne in the original.
Director Petrie doesn't have the artistic sensibilities of the original's Edmund Goulding so a certain tortured romantic feeling that was an underlying factor of the first film is missing from this.
Still for fans of Miss Hayward or plush dramas of the 50's-60's era this is an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.
In another ironic twist of fate Susan's next film was the tawdry but deeply satisfying Where Love Has Gone co-starring Bette Davis who was not pleased that Hayward had remade her personal favorite of her films. Bette stated before production had even begun "Some pictures SHOULDN'T be remade!!" surely stabbing the air with her omnipresent cigarette for emphasis. The two were cordial at the commencement of filming but soon set to squabbling over plot points and ended up more or less mortal enemies by the time the film was completed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film presents something of a dilemma for me. It stars my favorite
actress Susan Hayward so I'm already favorably disposed. But she's in a
remake in a role made famous by another screen icon, Bette Davis and
it's a part that I gave the highest rating possible for. It is in fact
my favorite Bette Davis film.
No home run for Susan, but a nice and more than respectable triple for Stolen Hours which is an updated remake of Dark Victory. This film is also relocated from the Long Island horsey set to swinging London of the Sixties.
Hayward plays the heiress who's erratic behavior has got boyfriend Edward Judd who is in the racecar driving business all kinds of concerned. He calls in famed neurosurgeon Michael Craig who with a reluctant Hayward diagnoses her brain tumor.
If you've seen Dark Victory you know how this all turns out. Hayward successfully puts her own individuality on the tragic role. Her Laura Pember is older than Bette's Judith Traherne, this is a woman who has lived longer and with more excess than Davis did in Dark Victory.
Two ironic things about Stolen Hours. First Susan Hayward's next film would be When Love Has Gone and she would be daughter and mother with Bette Davis. Not the best film for either of them, still it's a one time only to see two of the very best ever working together.
And as her legion of fans know Susan Hayward eventually died of a brain tumor. One can hope that life imitated art and her death resembled what she portrays here.
It's not Dark Victory, but Susan Hayward comes home with a winner in Stolen Hours.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
She really wanted to live. Life is worth living. Wonderful themes to
this remake of Bette Davis's 1939 vehicle "Dark Victory."
While "Summer Flight," or "Stolen Hours" is a good picture, obvious comparisons will have to be made regarding the Bette Davis film. Hayward is vulnerable here as she usually was in a career essentially about playing troubled women. When she learns her fate, she walks around in that daze just as she did when David died in "I'll Cry Tomorrow."
Davis was more exciting in the part. Her outbursts of despair were more realistic than Hayward here. Although both women settled down and accepted their fate, you felt it more with Davis surrounded by Geraldine Fitzgerald, George Brent, Bogart, Ronald Reagan and others. The supporting cast does not do that here. Diane Baker was brought in to play Hayward's sister. She doesn't have the scenes to express the emotional turbulence of Fitzgerald.
The dialogue in 'Hours' is very much predictable. When Hayward speaks to her doctor-lover, she states: "When you open my head tomorrow, make sure to put some sense into it."
How different that Hayward's dying scene is with children in the house. How ironic that the same illness would claim Susan Hayward 12 years later.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was much more impressed with "Summer Flight" than I expected. The
reason I didn't expect much was that it was a remake--and I rarely ever
like remakes. The other reason is that Susan Hayward emotes in her
films...A LOT. To say that her performances often lack subtlety is a
gross understatement--they're often very loud and occasionally wacky
due to a tendency to overact in SOME films (such as in "I Want to
Live"). I say some because she could also be very good and give nice
performances like she did here in "Summer Flight". The film is a
reworked version of Bette Davis' "Dark Victory". While I clearly prefer
the original, this version is pretty decent.
The movie is set in England instead of the US. Hayward plays Laura, a woman who is rich and reasonably happy. However, she's also having some very troubling symptoms yet refuses to seek medical help. Double-vision, massive headaches and more have been occurring for some time yet she inexplicably refuses to tell anyone. Her boyfriend suspects something is wrong and asks a prominent doctor to come to one of Laura's parties and covertly examine her. Laura figures out what's happening and becomes angry...but when the doctor is able to size up her problems very quickly, she agrees to get some tests. Unfortunately, the tests show she has a brain tumor--and the doctor operates immediately. Is Laura out of the woods? Well, if you have seen "Dark Victory", then you know she is royally screwed. So what's next?
There are only two things I didn't like about "Summer Flight". One is also in "Dark Victory" and that is the oddly specific way the doctor tells Laura she will die. It's SO exact and specific that it sounds a bit ridiculous. The other problem is the STUPID notion of casting Diane Baker as Laura's sister. Ms. Baker is more than 20 years younger than Miss Hayward and she looks it. Either having her play Laura's DAUGHTER or having an older actress play the part would have made much more sense.
Despite these quibbles, I liked the film. The production was lovely--with nice direction, cinematography and music. I also thought Hayward was good in the role--particularly when she WAS being emotional (such as confronting the doctor when she learned he was lying about her prognosis)--it was restrained and realistic. My vote still is to see "Dark Victory" if you only want to see one of these films, but seeing both isn't a bad bet at all.
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