Franck's Career Highlights
Sister Sam’s Lost Angels – 1956
Sister Sam (Debbie Sutton) is a young nun caring for an adorable tribe of rag-tag children at a down at the heels country orphanage. Greedy land grabbers are out to steal the orphanage – it lies between two other parcels that they plan on developing. Sister Sam schemes with the kids to foil their evil plans.
Sister Sam was Franck’s very first movie role. Even though he was twenty-three at the time, he was youthful-looking enough to be cast in one walk-on scene, in the uncredited role of prospective teenage adoptee. Unfortunately, no prints exist of the film.
George and Benedict - 1960
Mistakenly billed as Franck’s first film appearance is 1960’s George and Benedict, directed by controversial English director Robert Ecksmith. The film depicts Benedict Arnold in a sympathetic light, as a heroic figure driven to treason by the political machinations of George Washington and other generals on his staff.
Variety called it “a dismally ill-timed apology for a universally reviled traitor. While resplendent in period attire, newcomer Frank O’day (sic) is horribly miscast as the whiny, thrice wounded Arnold. Forgetting the tiresome plot and predictable dialogue of Ecksmith’s sorry re-write of American history, this reviewer instead imagined O’day wooing damsels on the village green.”
The New York Times said, “Franck O’Day’s performance was the only star in the moonless darkness of Robert Ecksmith’s dreary attempt at canonizing American traitor Benedict Arnold. Even while hopelessly mired in the atrocious script, O’Day almost made me believe that Arnold could actually have been a dapper gentleman-soldier, wronged by jealous superiors. But not quite. Even the luminous O’Day cannot save this morass of revisionist history. But I see a bright future for O’Day - quick, someone get this man in modern dress and pair him with Julie Christie or Elizabeth Taylor or Jessika Yerdlay!”
High Times in Manhattan - 1961
In this now legendary film, Franck plays Perry Calibri, the insouciant, devil-may-care, man about town who must jump through many humorous hoops in order to proclaim his love and eventually win flighty socialite Dora, played by
The New York Times reviewer, anxious to remind readers that he had foretold Franck’s success, wrote, “O’Day has totally left behind the cloud of his initial misstep in last year’s forgotten costume drama. He again lights up the screen, and this time he has the ever-effervescent Jessika Yerdlay beside him. Their on-screen chemistry is impeccable.”
The New York Times called it “a definite Oscar contender.” Variety called it “a delightful comedy about romantic hijinks at an upscale New York hotel during New Year’s Eve, 1940,” and drew comparisons to It Happened One Night and even Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
But despite such gushing praise, it was not happily-ever-after romance but doomed, musically-accompanied romance that was on Oscar’s mind that year. Best Picture honors went to West Side Story. High Times in Manhattan was not even nominated. The picture has since appeared in several Top Ten lists, however.
The Times dutifully congratulated the directing team of Wise and Robbins for their success with West Side Story, but in a separate bio article on Franck, they said, “The Academy’s snub did not seem to affect O’Day overly, however, because not long after the coveted statuettes were awarded to others, he married Bridget McSwale, age 26. Bridget brings to the marriage her six-year-old daughter, Maribeth.”
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