The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Synopsis: Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory job that barely pays the bills, and is given to fits of alcohol-induced rage. Evelyn, a stay-at-home wife and mother, deals with this abuse by appealing to her priest, who is no help at all. She deals with their poverty by entering the jingle contests that were the rage in the 50's and early 60's, even sending in multiple entries in the names of the children. She is very clever at it, winning more than her share of prizes, but her successes aren't enough to keep the wolf from the door. Further, they trigger Kelly's insecurities and he retreats deeper into the bottle, using food and mortgage money to support the habit. Can the loving, optimistic Evelyn hold the family together? Is she justifi
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Jane Anderson
Production: Dreamworks Distribution LLC
  1 win & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

Win a trip for 12

to anywhere in the free world,

or win a working oil well

and have money flowing in for years.

That's the grand prize

in Dial Soap's big contest.

Write a two line jingle starting,

"I'm glad I use Dial... "

The last word in

both lines must rhyme.

For example:
"I'm glad I use Dial... "

How hard is it to put it

across the plate? You idiot.

There once was a time,

believe it or not,

when skill and a

reasonable amount of luck

could actually feed a family of 12.

Come on! Strike 'em out,

you dog-faced bastard! Play ball!

Contesting, if you haven't heard of it,

was a lucrative way for overworked

housewives to use their underused wits.

It wasn't that I was any more gifted

than your average contester,

I was simply more determined.

I was so prolific, in fact,

that I borrowed my children's names

so I could submit

more than one entry.

This was a perfectly legal tactic

in the contesting world,

and as far as I could see, one of

the advantages of having so many kids.

My creative output usually

corresponded directly to our needs.

- Hey, Mom. The toaster's broke.

- Broken.

All right. Hold on.

"Kraft's Parkay

won't tear fresh bread.

Even ice cold,

it will smoothly spread. "

- Here you go, honey.

- Thanks, Mom.

Small household adversities

were my steady inspiration.

But whenever fate handed

one of my kids an unfair blow,

it would set my muse on fire.

- Mom.

- What, honey?

The landlord's here.

Oh, hello, Mr. Stubbs.

Come on in.

- Dad!

- Hey, Dad!

Dad, we're being evicted!

- Come on, let me out.

- Dad!

- We're being evicted.

- Oh, yeah?

The landlord came by.

He wants the house back.

His daughter's getting married.

- How long do we have?

- Three weeks.

- What are we gonna do?

- Don't you worry, sweetheart.

Mom always figures something out.

- Do you know the capital of Alaska?

- No.

- Juneau... get it?

- Oh, yeah. Good one.

- Hello, Mother.

- Hello, Dad. I suppose you heard?

Yep. Can't seem

to catch a break, can we?

Here, I brought you something.

- Thank you.

- Don't choke up so much on the bat.

- All right, Dad.

- Attaboy.

Mom! The men are here to kick us out!

May I help you?

- Mrs. Ryan?

- Yes.

Is your son, Dick, here?

This is Dick.

What is this about?

Congratulations, son.

- You've just won $5,000.

- I did?

I'm Mr. Forrest,

this is Mr. Bravey and Mr. Kramer

of the Western Auto Supply Company.

Out of 65,000 entries

in our national bike contest,

you have won the grand prize.

- Oh, my goodness.

- And that's not all.

You've won a brand new

Western Flyer bicycle

and a Westinghouse washer and dryer.

- A washing machine? Oh, my Lord.

- That's right.

Are you all right?

I just have to sit down

and have myself a happy cry.

I love that bike.

Dad! We won!

We won $5,000!

- No kidding.

- Isn't it marvelous?

- It's awesome!

- I told you everything would be OK.

Congratulations, Kelly.

You got quite a wife there.

Yep, looks like she got lucky.

Mom says she's gonna put

the money down on a new house.

- Yeah?

- Looks like you got lucky.

Oh, now, Kelly was all set to do it,

I just beat him to the punch.


Just need you to sign Dick's check over

to Defiance Home Saving and Loan.

- Does it matter which of us?

- No.

Whoever is over 21.

Although, you don't look

a day over 19, Mrs. Ryan.

Well, in that case, I'd better sign it.

Here you go.


And, now the mortgage papers...

You need both our signatures, correct?

Some married couples do that.

But it's really not necessary.

And, after all, I'm the guy

who has to pay the mortgage,

seems I'm the only one

who needs to sign it.

And since the bank account's

under my name...

Sure, that's how most folks do it.

Well, that seems right to me.

Well, I guess it's all on me then.

Unless Mother here wants to start...

...punching in at the shop.

- Only if you'll do the ironing.

We just need

your John Hancock there.


Well, congratulations, Mr. Ryan.

You are a homeowner, sir.

Thank you.

All right, watch that curb.

- Good, yes.

- Oh, my goodness.

Is that what I won?

- Yes, ma'am.

- They're just beautiful.

- Watch out.

- Excuse me, sir.

Dad, can you believe it?

No more boiling diapers

on top of the stove.

Yep, gonna miss it.

It made a nice soup.

The cost of modern living.

Sir, we're looking for Mrs. E. Ryan.

- There.

- Oh, hello. I'm up here.

This is your new home freezer.

Mikey, honey, get down.

"Ask any Eskimo and they'll say,

frozen keeps

the freshness in every day. "

My gosh. I forgot all about that one.

When it rains, it pours.


Well, bring it on in.

How's it going, Pop?

Don't make your old man

carry this couch.

Come on.

OK, on the count of three.

One, two, three.

Tuff, keep that cat out of the house.

What are you doing?


A little bit of this?


Dad, isn't this the biggest freezer

you ever seen in your life?

It's like the ones in restaurants.

The deliveryman told me

it would hold two sides of beef.

Seems like overkill to me.

Besides, it's dangerous.

A kid could fall in there and suffocate.

- No, we won't.

- I don't want to say I told you so.

- I'd like to keep it.

- What the heck for?

Do you know how much

electricity this will eat?

It inspires me.

It's something to be filled.

Good luck with that.

Even Howard Hughes

couldn't fill that thing.

We got plenty in it already.

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Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson (born c. 1954 in California) is an American actress-turned-award-winning playwright, screenwriter and director. She has written and directed one feature film, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005) and wrote the script for the Nicolas Cage film It Could Happen to You (1994). She won an Emmy Award for writing the screenplay for the miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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