Thursday, April 28, 2011

You End Up Rooting for the Kidnappers!!!

"The Ransom of Red Chief"  was written 101 years ago, but it still makes you bust a gut laughing.  If you've never read it, click on the link and do so immediately. Then head on over the the SHORT STORY READING CLUB to comment on it.

You actually do end up rooting for Sam and Bill, even though they're technically the bad guys. Oh, well, I don't think those two had much of a chance to forge a successful criminal career anyways. They don't exactly hit Dr. Doom levels of infamy, do they?

O. Henry has been referred to as the writer most responsible for humanizing the modern short story. He also had an extraordinary command of  the English language. He had a knack for using obscure words in just the right places to make a sentence simply fun to read.

"The Ransom for Red Chief" has been filmed several times. It was one of five Henry stories adapted for the 1952 film O. Henry's Full House. Radio comedian Fred Allen and sharp-tongued pianist/actor Oscar Levant play the kidnappers and play really well off each other. It's a fun adaptation.

On a side note, that movie is narrated by John Steinbeck. He does a fine job, but it occurred to me while watching it that you never see a picture or film of Steinbeck without a scowl on his face.

He's doing a good job of praising one of the finest short story writers of all time, but gee whiz,  he looks as if he's been constipated for the last three days. He always looked like that. I guess writing something as tragic as Of Mice and Men must have left him in a perpetually bad mood.

Back to "The Ransom for Red Chief." Two of the best character actors ever--Strother Martin and Jack Elam--proved to be absolutely perfect in the roles in a 1970s-era television version. Sadly, it's never come out on DVD, but hope springs eternal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...