RARA-AVIS: Re: O'Connor & Wise Blood

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 15 Mar 2002

"A Good Man Is Hard To Find" is a story I find more impressive with each rereading, so I certainly don't think knowing the ending ruins the story in the way that knowing the ending of "The Hands of Mr. Ottermole" by Thomas Burke would take away from the experience of reading it.

I do think the ending of short stories should be treated the same way as novels with a spoiler warning. The O'Connor story is not a trick or O'Henry ending story but some readers might want to experience growing awareness as the story unfolds.

The movie "Wise Blood" is a great one. They filmed it on a tiny budget in Georgia back when I was a reporter down there. Wish I had been able to visit some of the setups. It was a labor of love by the producers, who knew O'Connor or had some sort of connection with her, and by John Houston. Several of my favorite Houston films are the small ones like "Wise Blood" and
"Fat City" (another with appeal to noir fans).

The role of cop who pulls Brad Dourif over in "Wise Blood" was played by the real-life police chief of Macon, Georgia (or maybe he was the sheriff of Bibb County). I had interviewed the guy a few times over the years on crime stories. Anyway, he did a very good job in the role but it caused him some grief in Macon, as he was accused of bringing disrespect to the uniform and to the city.

I thought then, and think now, that this was an ironic accusation as the voters of Macon during that same period had twice elected as mayor a guy named Ronnie Thompson. Thompson was a gospel singer by profession who managed to win election. As a singer he was mediocre but he wore his well-oiled, black hair slicked back in a way that reminded people of Faron Young. During a riot back in the late sixties, he grabbed a submachine gun from a cop and fired a few bursts into the air. From then on he was known as
"Machine Gun" Ronnie and used the Thompson submachine gun outline on his campaign literature and gave away lapel pins in the shape of the gun. Anyway, I don't think the good citizens of Macon should have been bothered by that movie or the police chief's role in it.

Yes, I know this is straying from our area but I will bring it back by urging those who have not tried Harry Crews to check out his novels. His first
"The Gospel Singer" is not a bad place to start. It takes place in Enigma, a small town a bit south of Macon.

Richard Moore

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