Sunday, August 09, 2009

"Pictures don't interest me any longer..."

Here's the explanation I promised yesterday about Rita Farr and her film career, as I continue to read old issues of My Greatest Adventure, which eventually became Doom Patrol.

In my last post, I expressed my long-held conviction that when it came to my perception of the team of "fabulous freaks", that I could never really buy the shape-shifting Ms. Farr as one of them, since her appearance wasn't disfigured and she seemed to be able to remain normal in appearance anytime she wanted. I also wondered why she couldn't have continued her film career, which seemed to be doing well when we first met her. I understood that scandal sometimes derailed film careers in the late 50's and early 60's, the approximate time period these stories were conceived in, and speculated that the only thing she should have to worry about would be an unscrupulous producer or director who would be looking to exploit her new abilities. I had the feeling this would have to be dealt with at some point, but couldn't recall any instances, and hadn't read a lot of the original team's 60's exploits so it was possible that this came up, but I didn't know about it.

And sure enough, I was right! In a way. In My Greatest Adventure #85, we're given a scenario which deals with Rita's former occupation and at least answers the question of why she couldn't resume her film career when she wasn't out fighting the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man.

We join the DP after they've made a successful rescue at sea, although Rita kinda went off-program to resolve the situation:

The Chief and the others persuade her to take the film offer, reasoning that it will help the public perception of the DP if she shows that they're not just a bunch of freaks. The Chief, as he so often does, (and unbeknownst to the others) has ulterior motives. Interestingly, Rita initially refuses because she apparently prefers the thrills of fighting weird menaces with the Patrol to fighting off casting couch directors, it seems, and says so in no uncertain terms. I do wonder where her income comes from now. Still, she gives in.

On the set, here's how it goes:

She is initially set to appear as the wife in an Incredible Shrinking Man type flick, the lead injures himself (or DOES he?) and at Rita's suggestion, they switch her role with the male lead's, in order to exploit, I mean take advantage of, her shrinking ability. Anyway, soon, Rita finds out that the Chief set this all up in order to keep her out of harm's way while the men deal with a dangerous underground mission. Why this is that much more dangerous than the other incredible menaces the trio has faced before isn't really explained to anybody's (well, not mine anyway) satisfaction...but I guess good old fashioned chivalrous early 60s sexism is as good a reason as we can find. Anyway, Rita's a bit pissed, but not so pissed that she doesn't come to the rescue when the boys find themselves in a jam:

With Rita's aid, the DP deals with the threat, basically (as they're described in the story) "living nuclear reactors" that are mobile and heading for the Earth's surface.

At story's end, Rita gets in a little jab at the Chief, but all's well that ends well, apparently:

I wonder if this wasn't one of the Beard Hunter's favorite classic DP tales...?

So anyways, it seems as if Rita is sticking with the DP not because she's ashamed or shunned, but because she a) craves the kick only fighting monsters and supervillains can bring, and b) fears being exploited by Hollywood suits. Works for me, I guess. If I run across anything else noteworthy as I continue to read old DP stories, I'll pass it on!

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