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Virginia O'Brien: MGM's Deadpan…
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Virginia O'Brien: MGM's Deadpan Diva

by Robert Strom

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I often wonder whether author's read their own books prior to publication or if the proofreader or editor does their job by reading the book before it is printed. This could have been a great tribute to Virginia O'Brien but instead is full of errors and bad editing. Some examples, page 53 has a photo listing the cast of the film Lady Be Good which includes Robert Young. Yet in the paragraph right under the photo, the author's text lists Robert Montgomery in the cast - he was not in this film. Page 222 has a paragraph that begins "In September of 1974" - the paragraph is essentially repeated word for word on the following page although the date was changed to "July of 1975". I thought the author did not need to share his negative opinion of Betty Hutton's performance in Annie Get Your Gun. Saying "The overly loud, brassy individual makes the movie impossible to watch. Her Annie Oakley is strident and annoying". This was not needed. Obviously the author was not familiar with Hutton's high energy performances and I thought she was great in the role. O'Brien had never carried any film on her own and while it would have been interesting to see her as Oakley - the audience would have expected her "deadpan" style of singing which would not have worked on the ballads. The author also never really finished the book. We never find out what happened to O'Brien's ex-husbands or siblings or what her children are doing. The book did have plenty of photographs, a filmography, and a list of radio and television appearances. It is just too bad the author/editor did not take the time to review the book for errors. ( )
  knahs | Nov 11, 2018 |
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Virginia O’Brien was one of the more unique talents under contract to Metro Goldwyn Mayer. The California native was discovered by MGM’s mogul, Louis B. Mayer when he attended a performance of the musical revue Meet the People. It was here that Virginia stopped the show with the deadpan delivery of her solo number. Her appearances in more than a dozen of MGM’s musicals were always a highlight. While one can’t “stop” a film, Virginia’s singular performances are etched in the memory of the fans of MGM’s lavish musicals. This is the story of the comedic actress-singer who was fondly known as “Miss Frozen Face.”
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