27 lis 2016

Zippy 3-Acter, Hi-lites Thanksgiving

In the first edition of the camp newspaper 'The Oflag 64 Item' (issued in November 1943), an upcoming theatrical play was announced. Zippy 3-Acter, Hi-lites Thanksgiving” was the title of short review of crime/comedy 3-act play entitled Brother Orchid scheduled to run during Thanksgiving holidays. It was thetrical production prepared by POWs basind on a 1940 American crime/comedy film directed by Lloyd Bacon, the screenplay of which based on a story by Richard Connell originally published in Collier's Magazine on May 21, 1938 was written by Earl Baldwin.

„The first modern American three-act play to be presented at Oflag 64 will usher in the Thanksgiving holiday with a belly full of laughs in place of turkey. 'Brother Orchid by Leo Brady* is the name of the show. Frank Maxwell hustles to perform the double dities of director and leading man, partraying Little Johna Sarto big gangster recently of Alcatraz. Little John descends unceremonioulsy into the cloistered life of a monastery, where th pious Little Brothers of the Flowers, enacted by Lts. Casner, Sharpe, Hubbell and Bickers, take up a tug og war against mobsters and racketeers for soul of their new brother. Lts. Gever, Lobb, Hessler, Scherman i Koch provide worthy oppositions as the gang element. The show is tentatively scheduled to run November 25, 26, 27 inclusive.

„It played for three nights and the final curtain rose and fall many times to the cheers of the appreciative audience. As usual, costumes for this play were made of what one could find. Blankets doubled for robes, tea in German beer bottles served as high-powered liquers. The set was of scrap paper and paste and string. Everything was cheap but the acting. Brodway could not done better . – recalled Leo Fisher  in his postwar article written for the Cenral Press 'Behind The Barbed Wire' available at www.oflag64.us.

*Leo Brady was an American writer and theater artist who published a play version of Richard Connell’s short story Brother Orchid, which became a staple of the Samuel French catalog and inspired Hollywood to adapt the story for a film, but Brady received no credit.

 Cover of "Brother Orchid: A Play in Three Acts" by Leo Brady, Paperback, Publisher: Samuel French (1940).

Photos of the show from the Oflag 64 Association website:

First photograph l-r: Gabriel Gever, Frank Roy, Bob Lobb, Jim Sherman, Ormond Hessler, Jim Koch
 Second photograph l-r: Wilbur Sharpe, Verris Hubbell, Frank Maxwell, James Bickers, Al Casner

First photograph l-r: James Bickers, Wilbur Sharpe, Frank Maxwell, Al Casner, Verris Hubbell
  Second photograph l-r: Gabriel Gever, Frank Maxwell, Bob Lobb, Jim Sherman, Jim Koch, Ormond Hessler

First photograph l-r: Wilbur Sharpe, James Bickers, Verris Hubbell, Al Casner, Frank Maxwell
 Second photograph in first row l-r: British Sgt.  S. “Mouse” Waldman, J. Van Vliet, J. Glendinning, L. Otterbein, J. Cockrell, T. A. Mitchell, T. Cipriani, R. Ford, S. Bolten, W. Korber, Monks l-r:: A. Casner, J. Bickers, V. Hubbell, F. Maxwell, W. Sharpe Bartender: G. Gever, J. Koch, J. Sherman, R. Lobb, O. Hessler, F. Roy

The movie stills and original trailer.

© Mariusz Winiecki

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