Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jan Bryant (Shadows of the Range)

A virtual Rosie the Riveter, a welder to be precise, Jan Bryant was discovered in 1945 by a scout from 20th Century Fox who happened to spot her in newsreel footage of girls waiting in line for their termination papers at Douglas Aircraft. Or at least that was what her publicity claimed. (Another "news" item, dated Hollywood, February 2, 1946 suggested that "New verification of the old saw that 'there's no accounting for taste,' is to be found in pretty Jan Bryant who gave up the luxurious life of a socialite to work eight hours per day as a showgirl in Warner Brothers' comedy, "Cinderella Jones" [1946].") In reality, Jan had ushered at Grauman's Chinese, been kicking around the Hollywood chorus lines since at least 1943 and had even been a Goldwyn Girl in Up in Arms (44). She seems to have abandoned her screen and later television career in 1954. Some of her erstwhile Rosie the Riveter chutzpah carried over into Bryant's first Western, Johnny Mack Brown's Shadows of the Range (Monogram, 1946), where she witnesses the murder of her father in the very first scene. Someone, it seems, wants his land and only Johnny Mack Brown can prevent more carnage. Jan, meanwhile, has little left to do than mourn her father's sudden passing. Unfortunately, her thespian abilities does not allow for much depth of feeling so the sadness is solely depicted in dialogue. She does, however, confront the would-be killers in a well-played saloon scene.

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