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The Short Guy

James MacDonald writes:
Thank you for the updates, especially for the photos. I especially like the one of you [Richard] next to the JO'H statue. Where is the statue? I read somewhere (it may have been in Bruccoli) that John O'Hara Street is in a run-down part of town. And those are never Peal Shoes in the statue, are they?

A couple of bloggers mentioned Pal Joey, and British television screened the Sinatra film the other week. I wouldn't want to be thought sexist, but Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay is about as far from the libretto as San Francisco is from Chicago, in every sense. O'Hara uses special vernacular that workaday screenwriters never knew (and that's why he was so contemptuous of Guys and Dolls). O'Hara's Joey casually refers to a particular nightclub as a crib, where the chorus girls double as prostitutes, making people in Joey's position quasi-pimps. This is in perfect keeping with Hart's raunchy lyrics, which in turn make Guys and Dolls as daring as a revivalist meeting. And the watered down version by which most people know Pal Joey is little more than a 1957 prototype pop video.

Incidentally, have you seen anything about Robert Benton's Appointment in Samarra? The American Beauty of its day, indeed! But if it's any good at all, it might just be the best adaptation of O'Hara yet, though I liked a number of the Gibbsville episodes.

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