My Foolish Heart (1949): Mark Robson’s Melodrama, Starring Susan Hayward in First Oscar Nominated Role

Mark Robson’s melodrama, “My Foolish Heart,” was written by Julius and Philip Epstein (“Casablanca”), adapting to the screen a short story by J. D. Salinger, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.”

(Salinger was reportedly upset when his wry, ironic, and detached story was turned into a typical and sentimental Hollywood melodrama targeted at middle-class women.)

Susan Hayward received the first of her five Best Actress Oscar nominations for this “woman’s picture,” a tale of how the memory of a wartime romance affects the happiness of a young woman’s marriage.

In her career, Hayward played many strong and proud women who refuse to feel sorry for themselves and fight for their own individuality an dignity in a male-dominated world.

In this wartime love story that ends in heart break,

Hayward is cast as Eloise Wengler, wife of Kent Smith.  They are about to be divorced, and she wants to tell him that he is not the father of her child, Ramona.  She had an affair with Dana Andrews when WW II breaks out, and he is called to duty; they spent the last evening together, and she got pregnant.

Andrews is killed in a plane crash, and in desperation, Eloise marries her schoolmate’s fiancé

when the child is  born, an innocent husband & innocent friend, she tells him.  In the end, he leaves with her friend, and she’s left with the daughter.

“My Foolish Heart” is considered to be among the first movies to benefit from commercial placement of a melodic theme tune, in this case the title song by Victor Young, which was Oscar-nominated.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Actress: Susan Hayward

Song: My Foolish Heart, music by Victor Young, lyrics by Ned Washington

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

Olivia De Havilland won the best Actress Oscar for “The Heiress.”  The Best Song Oscar went to Frank Loesser for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” from the Esther Williams musical, “Neptune’s Daughter.”

Running time: 98 Minutes