Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, October 18, 2014

John O'Hara--The Home Stretch

John O'Hara in his study
Visitors to this site know that for the past few years I've been chasing the story of writer John O'Hara (1905-1970), who wrote short stories, novels, journalism, plays--and who also did some duty in Hollywood as a screenwriter. I'd seen all the films that O'Hara worked on--and all the ones based on his novels (BUtterfield 8, A Rage to Live, Ten North Frederick, Pal Joey--a musical he co-wrote with Rodgers and Hart for Broadway, later transformed to a film).

Here's a link to O'Hara's film work.

I'd managed to find and watch all the films associated with him--all but one: I Was an Adventuress (1940),  I recently found a DVD available on Amazon's site; I bought it; it arrived a few days ago; I watched in Thursday evening.

It's actually a pretty good caper film staring (Vera) Zorina (1970-2003), a ballerina who starred in a handful of films. (We get to see her perform a chunk of Swan Lake near the end of the film.) She's part of a trio of con artists (the other two are Peter Lorre and Erich von Stroheim--both are very good in the film) who use a switch-the-jewels con to great success. (The film opens with them in operation.) But then--they pull the con on Richard Greene (who would later play Robin Hood in one of my favorite TV shows in the 50s and 60s), and Zorina falls for him. Complications ensue.

The production values are very 1940: elaborate interiors, fakey looking exteriors with filmed backgrounds in front of live action--there's an amusing car chase near the end that's patently using film speed to increase the speed of the vehicles.

Still ... I got involved with the characters and was fooled a couple of times by something that looked real but turned out to be yet another con. I like that!

In a week or so I'm going to upload to Kindle Direct a long biographical essay about O'Hara--about my adventures chasing his story--and now I have finally seen I Was an Adventuress and can include a bit about it.  I'll keep you posted ...

PS--Here's a link to a YouTube clip from the film ...

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