I came across the story of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio quite by accident, but it captured my interest right away. Having put a hold on both the book and the movie at my local library, I watched the DVD the other night when it came in before the book. (I just had to take a break from packing, and this was a great distraction!)
Can I just say at first that I love Julianne Moore? She’s understatedly fabulous in all the movie roles I’ve seen her in. In Prize Winner, she plays an almost-perennially “look on the bright side of life” fifties housewife named Evelyn Ryan who keeps her large family of twelve afloat despite the destructive ways of her drunkard husband. The way she does it? By “contesting” – entering and winning product contests with clever short-sentence combinations. Evelyn’s winning entries always come through at the last minute to save the family from eviction and starvation.
The best part about Prize Winner is that it’s a true story. Evelyn was a real gal, and one of her ten children – Terry Ryan – grew up to write the book about their mother and their hero. When you think about the kind of life that Evelyn Ryan could have had if her husband hadn’t been such a fool, it makes you sad. But it comes through loud and clear that she was a survivor, and she lived life to its fullest as much as she could.
We need more stories like this coming out of Hollywood, the stories that make you believe you live in a world of optimists. More stories like this might instill hope and faith in all of us that we all can live life to its fullest. Stories like this do us all a good bit of good.
Watch The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Hope. Dream. Live.