Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Thelma Ritter

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Thelma Ritter

Article excerpt

it is obvious was born to look homely,

an appliance to brew coffee, make a meal,

and iron shirts, while looking up frowning

at the ways of the world. Shapelessness

oddly qualified her by exempting her from

passion precisely to give advice about it.

Whatever she did on screen, she always looked

as if she were about to go food-shopping.

Antidote to the befuddled: not girl gets boy,

not girl loses boy, but mophead spouts irony,

slyly quipping out of the side of her mouth,

as wide as a letter box, eyes snide and dry,

rebuttoning one of her shapeless dresses or

snatching at her hair, xerophytic vegetation,

her face cross and as white as bad ginger. "If

I had a bad leg and a guy was crazy about me,"

I'd say I was lucky," she yampfed to Susan Hayward

(Wasn't she always folding clothes at such times?),

said similar things to Bette Davis, poor froggy

did, to Grace Kelly, to Marilyn Monroe, to everybody

pretty. Everybody else. She wore dull cloth coats,

shrugged and smirked, smoked like an old trucker,

her cigarette wagging up and down realistically

to add to her quips. Did she really count as human? …

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