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O Genesee was an historical novel; The Cliff Hangers -- while equally regional- is a period piece. And this time Janet O'Daniel has used Ithaca in the early years of this century as her setting for a story that is held together rather precariously by the mood of the times. Motor cars were still unusual and something of a menace in quiet unaccustomed streets; the movies -- especially with a company on location -- were cause for much emotional titillation, and a good deal of crepe hanging on the part of the staid elders. A slender theme of plot and a generous cast of characters are built around the studio activities. Matt Hillyer, producer, was spoiled by success with the hair-raising serials he had put on -- but was finding himself up against a dead end of stale situations, the opposition of the community to racing cars across the slender bridges above the gorges, and to the involvement of the local personalities in mob scenes. Then came a new star- high priced Marian Vance -- who proved to a be a total loss in the old type of scenario. So Matt plunged -- he would make her a star with a theme which exposed her sexual charms- and he would make money for his puritanical chiefs. So much for the central theme; its development is of interest chiefly as it reveals the slow progress of changing mores, and as it reflects the town on the verge of awakening to new ways.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1961
Publisher: Lippincott