Susan Hayward was an American actress known for her powerful performances and strong presence on screen.

She was active in Hollywood from the 1940s to the 1970s, earning five Academy Award nominations throughout her career. Here are some of the best Susan Hayward movies that showcase her talent and range as an actress.

Best Susan Hayward Movies

These films represent some of the best work of Susan Hayward’s career and showcase her range as an actress, from vulnerable and emotionally raw performances to strong and determined characters.

1. Beau Geste (1939)

“Beau Geste” is a 1939 adventure film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by P.C. Wren and tells the story of three brothers who join the French Foreign Legion in North Africa.

The film is known for its impressive action scenes and strong performances, with Gary Cooper delivering a particularly memorable performance as the noble and heroic Beau Geste.

Ray Milland and Robert Preston also shine as his brothers, with Preston delivering a particularly standout performance as the troubled and complex John Geste.

“Beau Geste” was a commercial success upon its release and has since become a classic of adventure cinema.

The film is praised for its thrilling action sequences, impressive cinematography, and strong performances, and remains a popular choice for fans of classic Hollywood filmmaking.

Beau Geste [Blu-ray]
  • Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston (Actors)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. The Lusty Men (1952)

“The Lusty Men” is a 1952 Western drama film directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward, and Arthur Kennedy.

The movie tells the story of a washed-up rodeo star named Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) who becomes a mentor to a young couple, Wes and Louise Merritt (Arthur Kennedy and Susan Hayward), as they try to make it in the rodeo world.

As Jeff takes the couple under his wing and helps them hone their rodeo skills, he also develops a complicated relationship with Louise, leading to jealousy and tension between the three characters.

Along the way, they must confront the dangers and challenges of the rodeo circuit, including injuries, financial struggles, and intense competition.

“The Lusty Men” was praised for its nuanced exploration of complex relationships and its vivid portrayal of the rodeo world. The movie features strong performances from its cast, particularly Robert Mitchum as the world-weary Jeff McCloud.

The film also features striking black and white cinematography that captures the harsh beauty of the American West.

While it may not be as well-known as some of the other Western classics of its era, “The Lusty Men” remains a compelling and thought-provoking drama that explores themes of ambition, loyalty, and self-discovery in the context of the rugged and unforgiving world of the rodeo.

3. House of Strangers (1949)

“House of Strangers” is a 1949 American film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, and Richard Conte.

The film tells the story of the dysfunctional Monetti family, an Italian-American clan living in New York City. Robinson plays Gino Monetti, a successful banker who has alienated his four sons through his domineering and manipulative behavior.

Conte portrays Joe Monetti, the eldest son who has become estranged from his father and resents him for forcing him to become a lawyer instead of pursuing his passion for music. When Gino is charged with embezzlement, Joe is forced to defend him in court, even though he harbors deep-seated animosity toward his father.

The film is known for its powerful performances, particularly by Robinson, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Gino. It also explores themes of family dysfunction, revenge, and the corrupting influence of power.

“House of Strangers” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it remains a classic of the film noir genre. The film’s nuanced exploration of family dynamics and its suspenseful plot have made it a favorite of audiences and critics alike.

House of Strangers
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, Richard Conte (Actors)
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Director) - Jerome Weidman (Writer)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

4. I Want to Live! (1958)

“I Want to Live!” is a crime drama film released in 1958, directed by Robert Wise and starring Susan Hayward in an Academy Award-winning performance.

The film is based on the true story of Barbara Graham, a woman who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in California in the 1950s.

The film follows Barbara Graham (Hayward) as she is accused of participating in a murder plot, and is subsequently tried and sentenced to death.

Throughout the film, the audience is taken on a journey through the legal system and the emotional turmoil of Graham’s experience. The film raises important questions about the death penalty, justice, and the treatment of women in the criminal justice system.

“I Want to Live!” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and was praised for its gritty realism and Susan Hayward’s gripping performance.

The film is notable for its innovative use of flashbacks and documentary-style footage, and is considered a classic of the crime drama genre.

Overall, “I Want to Live!” is a must-see for fans of crime dramas and courtroom thrillers, and offers a powerful commentary on the flaws of the criminal justice system. Susan Hayward’s performance is particularly noteworthy and showcases her range as an actress.

I Want to Live!
  • Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Theodore Bikel (Actors)
  • Robert Wise (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

5. I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

“I’ll Cry Tomorrow” is a 1955 biographical film directed by Daniel Mann and starring Susan Hayward, based on the autobiography of the same name by Lillian Roth. The film tells the story of Roth’s rise to stardom as a young actress and her subsequent struggles with alcoholism.

Susan Hayward delivers a powerful performance as Lillian Roth, capturing the highs and lows of her life with nuance and sensitivity. The film explores the devastating impact of addiction on an individual’s personal and professional life, as well as the challenges of recovery.

“I’ll Cry Tomorrow” was praised for its realistic portrayal of addiction and its effects, as well as its strong performances. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Hayward’s performance.

Overall, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” is a poignant and moving film that offers a candid look at the struggles of addiction and the resilience of the human spirit. It is a must-see for fans of classic Hollywood dramas and those interested in exploring important social issues on the big screen.

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
  • Susan Hayward, Richard Conte, Eddie Albert (Actors)
  • Daniel Mann (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

6. Sis Hopkins (1941)

Sis Hopkins is a 1941 comedy film directed by Joseph Santley and starring Judy Canova, Jerry Colonna, and Bob Crosby.

The film is based on a popular stage play of the same name and follows the story of Sis Hopkins (Canova), a naive and spunky country girl who travels to the big city to visit her rich and sophisticated aunt (played by Elizabeth Patterson).

Once in the city, Sis finds herself in a series of hilarious misadventures as she tries to navigate the unfamiliar world of high society.

Along the way, she falls in love with a dashing radio announcer (Crosby) and outwits a scheming socialite (played by Jinx Falkenburg) who is trying to steal her inheritance.

Sis Hopkins was a popular film upon its release and helped to establish Judy Canova as a rising star in Hollywood.

The film’s humor and charm were attributed to Canova’s infectious personality and comedic timing, and it remains a lighthearted and entertaining example of the screwball comedy genre.

While Sis Hopkins may not be as well-known as other classic Hollywood films, it is a fun and enjoyable movie that captures the spirit of its time and provides a glimpse into the popular culture of the early 1940s.

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7. My Foolish Heart (1949)

“My Foolish Heart” is a 1949 romantic drama film directed by Mark Robson and starring Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews.

The film is based on the short story “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” by J.D. Salinger and tells the story of a young woman named Eloise (played by Hayward) who is haunted by the memory of a lost love.

The film flashes back to Eloise’s college days, when she fell in love with a young soldier named Walt (played by Robert Young).

After Walt is killed in World War II, Eloise is left heartbroken and unable to move on. She spends her days drinking and reminiscing about the past, even as she starts a new romance with a writer named Lewis (played by Andrews).

Hayward delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as Eloise, conveying the character’s deep emotional pain and longing. The film’s exploration of loss and regret, as well as its complex portrayal of relationships, earned critical praise and several award nominations.

The film’s title song, “My Foolish Heart,” became a popular jazz standard and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Overall, “My Foolish Heart” is a poignant and beautifully acted drama that showcases the talent of Susan Hayward and the depth of her emotional range.

My Foolish Heart (1949)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Dana Andrews, Susan Hayward, Kent Smith (Actors)
  • Mark Robson (Director) - Julius J. Epstein (Writer) - Samuel Goldwyn (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. I Married a Witch (1942)

“I Married a Witch” is a 1942 romantic comedy-fantasy film directed by René Clair and starring Veronica Lake and Frederic March.

The film tells the story of a witch, played by Lake, who is burned at the stake in colonial America and seeks revenge on the family of the man who condemned her by inhabiting the body of his descendant’s fiancée.

The film is known for its whimsical and charming tone, as well as its strong performances, with Veronica Lake delivering a particularly delightful and mischievous performance as the witch Jennifer. Frederic March also shines as her unwitting love interest, bringing a warmth and charm to his role.

“I Married a Witch” was a critical and commercial success upon its release and has since become a cult classic.

The film is praised for its witty screenplay, playful direction, and strong performances, and has influenced numerous romantic comedies and fantasy films in the decades since its release.

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9. The Sisters (1938)

“The Sisters” is a 1938 drama film directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Anita Louise.

The movie is based on a novel by Myron Brinig and tells the story of three sisters: Louise, Helen, and Grace Elliott (Anita Louise, Bette Davis, and Jane Bryan), who come of age in the early 1900s and face various challenges as they navigate their lives and relationships.

Bette Davis stars as Louise, the eldest sister who sacrifices her own happiness to care for her siblings after their father’s death. Errol Flynn plays Frank Medlin, a charming and reckless journalist who enters the sisters’ lives and becomes romantically involved with both Louise and Helen.

The film explores themes of family loyalty, romantic love, and the sacrifices that people make for those they care about.

“The Sisters” was praised for its strong performances, particularly from Bette Davis in the lead role. The movie is also notable for its vivid depiction of life in small-town America in the early 20th century, as well as its exploration of social norms and gender roles of the time.

While it may not be as well-known as some of Davis’s other films from the same era, “The Sisters” remains a classic of the Golden Age of Hollywood and a touching portrait of family love and sacrifice.

The Sisters
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Anita Louise (Actors)
  • Anatole Litvak (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

10. And Now Tomorrow (1944)

“And Now Tomorrow” is a 1944 American drama film directed by Irving Pichel and starring Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, and Susan Hayward.

The film tells the story of Emily Blair, a young woman who suffers from a hearing impairment that has caused her to feel isolated and misunderstood. Ladd plays Dr. Merek Vance, a specialist who tries to cure her deafness and becomes romantically involved with her in the process.

As Emily’s hearing improves, she begins to gain confidence and assertiveness, but her newfound independence threatens her relationship with Merek and her traditional family.

Meanwhile, Merek struggles to reconcile his feelings for Emily with his professional obligations and his own troubled past.

The film is known for its poignant portrayal of disability and its exploration of the challenges faced by those with hearing impairments. It also explores themes of family conflict, romantic relationships, and the importance of communication and understanding.

“And Now Tomorrow” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it remains a classic of the romantic drama genre.

The film’s powerful performances, sensitive treatment of disability, and exploration of complex emotional themes have made it a beloved classic of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

And Now Tomorrow
  • Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, Susan Hayward (Actor)
  • Irving Pichel (Director)

3 Reasons To Watch Susan Hayward Movies

Susan Hayward was a versatile and talented actress who appeared in a wide range of films throughout her career. Here are three reasons to watch movies featuring Susan Hayward:

Acting Prowess: Susan Hayward was known for her powerful and emotional performances, which earned her five Academy Award nominations and one win. Her range as an actress was remarkable, and she was equally at home in dramas, comedies, and musicals.

Strong Characters: Many of Susan Hayward’s roles were of strong, independent women who faced adversity with bravery and determination.

From her portrayal of a death row inmate in “I Want to Live!” to her performance as a career-driven journalist in “Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman,” Hayward’s characters were often complex and multi-dimensional.

Iconic Films: Susan Hayward appeared in many classic films, including “With a Song in My Heart,” “I’ll Cry Tomorrow,” and “Back Street.” These films are not only entertaining, but also offer insight into important issues and events of the time period.

Overall, Susan Hayward’s films are a testament to her talent and range as an actress. Her performances were powerful and emotional, and she brought depth and complexity to the characters she portrayed. Her films continue to be cherished by fans of classic Hollywood cinema and offer a window into the social and cultural issues of the time.

Best Susan Hayward Movies – Wrap Up

Susan Hayward was a talented and versatile actress who appeared in numerous classic films during Hollywood’s golden age. Here are some of her best movies:

“I Want to Live!” (1958): Hayward won an Academy Award for her performance in this true-life drama about a woman on death row.

“Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman” (1947): Hayward earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of a struggling nightclub singer whose career and marriage are derailed by alcoholism.

“With a Song in My Heart” (1952): Hayward played real-life singer and polio survivor Jane Froman in this biographical musical.

“My Foolish Heart” (1949): Hayward delivered a powerful performance in this romantic drama about a woman haunted by the memory of her late husband.

“I’ll Cry Tomorrow” (1955): Hayward portrayed real-life actress and recovering alcoholic Lillian Roth in this biographical drama.

Overall, Susan Hayward was a gifted actress who could play a wide range of roles with authenticity and depth. Her performances were marked by her intelligence, intensity, and emotional range, making her one of the most respected actresses of her time.