Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 18
Yesterday, we took a look at Ann Dvorak’s first turn as a purely comedic actress in the 1937 Paramount feature, She’s No Lady. Unfortunately, this first attempt, which also marked the launching of Ann’s freelance career turned out to be one of her biggest onscreen disappointments. Following that turkey, she stuck to drama, the notable exception being a miniscule role in the 1938 screwball comedy Merrily We Live.
Ten years after this ill-fated turn at comedy, Ann took another stab at it with much better results. The 1947 Eagle-Lion production Out of the Blue gave Ann another chance as a funny lady, and this time she excels as the loveable but often inebriated Olive Jensen. Overall, Out of the Blue, which features Turhan Bey, Virginia Mayo, and George Brent more prominently than Ann is a moderately entertaining film made more watchable by Dvorak’s unexpected performance. In fact, one of my all time favorite Dvorak moments comes early on in the film when a tipsy Ann converses with Brent and has the following exchange:
DVORAK: You know, brandy is very good for my heart. My doctor says that it’s a vascular dilator. And my heart is liable to stop like that if I don’t have brandy periodically.
BRENT: You don’t think you had too much?
DVORAK: Not too much – or I couldn’t say “periodically.”
For the role, Ann adopted a quirky twang to her normally clear and distinct voice and she is delightful throughout. Ann was definitely cast against type in this one, as was Carole Landis who plays Brent’s stern shrew of a wife. Even Turhan Bey, who was usually cast as “exotic” villains got to play the romantic lead for a change.
I had the opportunity to meet Virgina Mayo a few years back, and when I asked her about Out of the Blue, she responded, “It wasn’t really much of a picture.” She may have been right, but it’s entertaining enough and proved that when given the right role, Ann Dvorak could shine as a comedienne.