by Dorothy Roe
Kentucky New Ara – Aug 3, 1953
There’s a little bit of floozy in every nice girl, movie star Donna Reed has concluded since playing the part of Alma, a girl of questionable reput, in the film version of James Jones’ war novel, “From Here to Eternity”.
Up to now Donna has played only ladylike parts. Her well-bred little-girl manner has led naturally to roles of sweet innocence. But Alma is something else again, even in the expurgated film version of the book. And Donna has decided she likes this part better than any she ever played.
Being a well-brought up girl from an Iowa farm, wife of producer Tony Owen and mother of three small children, Donna had to seek expert advice on how she was to portray the shady girl friend of Private Preweitt in the move. She says:
“I asked advice from a psychoanalyst, who happens to be my brother-in-law, and also from my husband. I asked them what kind of a girl this was, what she felt, what she was really like.
“The answer I got surprised me. My brother-in-law told me a girl like this would be completely blocked off emotionally. She would never have any emotional reaction to any of the men she met in her job as dance hall hostess. She would never look directly at anybody, but would seem to be looking past them or through them. Her conversation would be mechanical. She definitely couldn’t be very smart, or she never would reach the pathetic state she was in.”
Donna’s first job was to make herself look like a floozy – and after you have seen this aristocratic looking young woman over a luncheon table, you’ll realize this was no small job. Here’s how she did it;
“I was puzzled about makeup, and so I got some more advice – also surprising. I was told that to make the part seem real, I should use practically no makeup. It seems most of these girls don’t bother with it. So I just used a little lipstick and then wiped it off. My hair was sort of fuzzy and unkempt, and I wore some dangling earrings. That did it.
“Then I had to change my speaking voice – I had to forget all those ‘pear-shaped tones’ I had practiced so hard to perfect. I spoke in a sort of a flat monotone. Once I got started at it, I found it almost automatic.”
Donna’s conclusion, after studying her part so earnestly, is that floozies don’t have much fun. Says she:
“They’re simply miserable.”