Our Very Own is going to air on Turner Classic movies on Sunday, September 27th at 10:00pm EST.
Ann Dvorak’s post-war career consisted mainly of supporting parts, and while her name may have not been above the title, these lesser parts were often more interesting than her previous leading roles. Our Very Own is a prime example of how Ann Dvorak could take a few minutes of screen time and become the most memorable part of a film.
Our Very Own is a 1950 melodrama centering on a suburban family thrown into turmoil when the oldest daughter (Ann Blyth) discovers she is adopted. Dvorak plays Blyth’s low-class birth mother who is equally affected when her daughter re-enters her life. Though she only has a couple of scenes, Ann-D is heartbreaking as the low-rent but well meaning Gert who wants to be reunited with her daughter but needs to keep her past hidden from her husband. Donning a disheveled blond wig and padding to plump up her svelte figure, Ann is trashy, tragic, and touching.
Jane Wyatt, Farley Granger, Joan Evans, Donald Cook, and a precocious Natalie Wood round out the cast, and are all quite capable, but it’s Ann Dvorak’s melancholy presence that lingers when the credits have stopped rolling.
The Long Night is going to air on Turner Classic movies on Saturday, September 19th at 10:00am EST.
Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles means it’s time for Cinecon, the annual film festival/memorabilia show at the Renaissance Hotel at Hollywood & Highland. I hit the dealer rooms on Friday and walked out $200 poorer. A big chunk of the final tab went towards this 1934 lobby card featuring Ann Dvorak and Richard Barthelmess in Massacre. Most of the poster art for this film features only Barthelmess in all his Native American finery, so this is one of the few pieces that prominently features Ann.
Massacre is an interesting flick in that it brings to light the mistreatment of Native Americans on the Reservations, subject matter one would not expect in the early 1930s. True, the ultimate message of the film is that Indian Reservations are A-OK if the right people are running them, and the lead parts are played by darkened-up white folks, but it’s still an interesting and somewhat forward thinking film.
During the film’s on location production, Ann was bitten by a rattlesnake. The Los Angeles Examiner ran a photo of Ann recovering in bed with husband Leslie Fenton by her side. They couple claimed to have kept the venom retrieved from Ann’s wound in order to run tests in their bacteriology lab. As romantic as it all sounds, a Warner Bros publicity man revealed later that the whole incident was a fabricated stunt to promote the film.
Since I was far too lazy to take a photo of the lobby card I bought this weekend, the above image is courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries.