GRACE CONWAY Looks at the Films DEATH OF A CYCLIST Certificate A: Academy Director: Juan A. Bardem ANOTHER impressive film from Spain, etched in clear, sharp lines like a Spanish landscape. If
Marcellino" showed us how childhood could be depicted without whimsy, this argues an equal capacity for dealing with adult guile and tragedy without melodrama.
Director Barden.% who, still in his thirties, is one of Spain's leading directors the is also a film critic), has his own way with characters and with continuity. He doesn't believe in letting you sit back and be spoon-fed with his story, so every now and then you find yourself going back over the last sequence but one and saying : " But who—but where ?"
He also seems to believe in the shock treatment—switching you from a Requiem with full ceremonial (you don't know whose—and really, he seems to say, it doesn't really matter) to university students practising on a running track.
Some might call it clumsy editing
—but is it? I think it is Bardem's way to present you with a plan of human conduct presented against contrasting backgrounds. And this, when you think of it, is just like life.
A man and a girl—he a university lecturer of no very great ability. a weak, somewhat vacillating man; she is the wife of a wealthy industrialst—are driving away from their customary rendezvous when their car (the girl driving) hits a cyclist. They stop the car and find the man is still breathing. Fearful of the explanation they will have to give, they leave the man where he is. Later he is found dead.
From that point the action is concerned with the effect the man's death has on the man. the girl. the husband and others in their circle.
The effect on the dead man is only briefly seen—but under a sharp, bright beam when his home is shown in a workers' quarter and we learn that he has a wife and two young children (no sob stuff here. you see).
Gradually the grades of moralities sift themselves out. As the characters and incidents serve their purpose they are discarded.
A most interesting individual who turns blackmailer (a scintillating study this by Carlos Cesarevilla) disappears when he has played his particular part in the jigsaw—disappears without trace. His only punishment is the failure of his plot. The husband (Otello Toso) merely wants to keep what he has got.
The girl, played by the beautiful Italian actress Lucia Bose, as the story develops, shocks the man who so desperately loves her by her selfish reaction to the cyclist's death and choosing for a meeting place the church where there is a Requiem going on.
So finally, it is with the weak, vacillating lover himself—with him and his conscience—that we are
concerned. He becomes increasingly convinced that they must expiate the wrong they have done by giving themselves up to the police. It is the girl's response to this decision that provides the film with its climax—maybe the least original finale Director Bardem could have chosen—and yet even in Spain. apparently, retribution must come for all to see.
Subsidiary characters are well played, especially the lecturer's ineffectual mother (Julia Delgado Carol. All in all, " Death of a Cyclist " brings a badly needed astringent to the present London cinema. NIGHTMARE Certificate A: Gaumont Director: Maxwell Shane
NVHEN a young man has a nightmare but wakes up with a key in his hand, bloodstains on his wrist and fingermarks on his throat, you would think that in a land addicted to the psychoanalyst he would lose no time getting to the confessing couch. But then there would have been no story.
The man in the case, a jazz player (Kevin McCarthy) goes instead to his brother-in-law, a policeman (played by Edward G. Robinson), and tells such a cockand-hull story that reluctantly Edward G. is convinced they have a murderer in the family.
PORT AFRIQUE Certificate A: Odeon, Marble Arch Director : Rudolph Mate
WHAT have they done to Pier Angeli? That was what I asked myself in the first few sequences of this " dirty work in the Casbah " opus as she tried to be as slick and sophisticated as a cabaret singer. But I needn't have worried. For not long after there was the elfin girl back in her own character. wide of eye, mane of hair hanging heavy and uncurled, with that look of hurt innocence. Much better—and really she can't dance a bit.
Story centres upon an exAmerican flyer who comes back to his French Moroccan home to find his wife shot dead. If she didn't do it herself, who did?
Mildly interesting whodunit in a teasing sort of way.
FOREVER DARLING Certificate U: Ritz Director: Alexander Hall THERE was a horrible blank " when Lucille Ball, one of the best screen comediennes ever, left Hollywood (because her husband's work was on TV in New York) and went on TV herself. The husband and wife team is one of America's favourites. This, obviously, is a ragout of some of their work. Lucille, wearing quite the wrong make-up for the screen, still has her charm, and husband Desi Arnaz, with his Cuban accent, is quite a personality—but the whole (with James Mason hovering in the background as a guardian angel) is not cinema. So I don't know what it is.