Susan Hayward, Thelma Ritter. Badly injured in a plane crash, a singer tries to make a comeback-and to sort out her romantic troubles-in this compelling drama based on the life of Jane Froman. 1952/color/117 min/NR/fullscreen.
From radio star to wartime inspiration, the life of singer Jane Froman (the incomparable Susan Hayward) was made for the silver screen. The opening titles proclaim it "The story of a girl and the story of a voice. The girl is Jane Froman, the voice is her own" (Froman provided Hayward's vocals). Born in Missouri, the contralto finds fame in Cincinnati before conquering Chicago, New York--and songwriter Don Ross (David Wayne), her first husband. When her plane crashes en route to a USO engagement, Froman risks losing her legs, and fears she'll never perform again. In the hospital, she bonds with Pilot John Burn (Rory Calhoun) and wise-cracking nurse Clancy (All About Eve
's Thelma Ritter). In the process, she falls for Burn and returns to the stage. With a Song in My Heart
follows the basic biopic template--rise, fall, and resurrection--but Technicolor maestro Walter Lang (The King and I
) throws in a few surprises, like narration by the supporting cast and an appearance by a handsome young Robert Wagner as a shell-shocked paratrooper. He also showcases an array of glittering gowns and a myriad of musical numbers, including Rodgers and Hart's stirring title track. Two featurettes and an interview with Burn reveal that Froman's life was even more difficult than that of her fictional counterpart. Though she marks an exception among Hayward's edgy on-screen personas--notably her Academy Award-winning convict in I Want to Live!
--the auburn-haired actress invests the vocalist with innate decency and persuasive talent. --Kathleen C. Fennessy