NEW FILMS " The Milky Way "
The Carlton From the "moo" of a new and transient Paramount cow, which guys the roar (or more recent snarl) of Metro's enduring lion, right up to the final fade-out when the Milky Way melts into the dawn of reality, you will be delighted by the screen's best, and hest-made, comedy for many a year.
It is the improbable story of a very ordinary sort of milkman who achieved the most extraordinary middleweight championship on record.
A NEW MANNER
Harold Lloyd has deserted his old system of strung-together stunts and gags for a more straightforward and orthodox form of story-telling, letting his theme develop and using situations instead of stunts.
His characteristic is, as always, unselfishness. He has neither fear, nor need of fear, of a strong supporting cast; he picks them good and gives them lots of chances. His director can direct without having to worry himself about building-up his star. Thus has Leo McCarcy been able to make a glorious comedy and establish Harold Lloyd as the screen's champion comedian of to-day,
ALL STARS, AND I DON'T MEAN MAYBE
There is no more accomplished actor in Hollywood than Adolphe Menjou. Nothing remains to be added to his reputation, and his Gabby Sloan, dyspeptic manager of impossible boxers, is in his best tradition with the sequence where his attempt to kidnap the innocently obnoxious milkman lands him and his myrmidons, one by one, in jail is among the best situations in the film, despite the absence of the star.
The poise, talent, and beauty of Veree Teasdale have long been accepted and acknowledged facts. As Ann Westley, practical, lovelorn, and longing for a chicken farm, she puts over wisecracks with the punch of a Illondell, the zip of a Farrell, and a dignity all her own.
Lionel Stander, a " dumb pug," colourful and raucous-voiced, adds a rasp to his comedy like the jazz-stopper in a cornet.
A PERFECT COMEDY
. Helen Mack retains all her old appeal and adds in a flashing grimace a sense of comedy that calls for development. William Gargan, though knocked out, is a knockout as a horizontal champion, with a sensitive soul and a sense of humour.
George Barbier adds to a fine reputation, and Dorothy Wilson helps in building hers.
The whole show strikes a happy and
harmonious chord. It is an enjoyable thing made for enjoyment by players who obviously enjoyed the making of it, even at its most impossible it suggests a cheerful ipontaneity. It is just about the perfect :omedy: it never sags for a second um
falters for an instant. It might easily justify the issue of season-tickets.
" Soak the Rich"
You have to get into a Hecht-McArthur -mod to appreciate a Hecht-McArthur
..ticture. The epigrammatic subtlety of
their satire is not everybody's meat. Crime without Passion and The Scoundrel Were two of the best pictures that have been made, but, as paying propositions, they left much to be desired; their barbs were too often mistaken for loose ends, their sarcasm for facetiousness.
If those two pictures missed fire with you there is not much hope that Soak the Rich will register a bulls-eye. It is a satire on the seriousness and radicalism of youth. Its epigrammatism is purposely elementary and heavy-handed; it is far too easy to mistake an intentional gaucherie for clumsiness. It seems too good to be true.
A CONTRASTING CAST
The players are either very brilliantly chosen or very brilliant. Against the reliable and polished background of Walter Connelly. confident and convincing as a millionaire father and founder of a university, wherein his daughter mistakes a dawning love for political conviction and throws in her lot with a group of terribly immature communists, the elementary high-school acting of an almost unknown cast is so true to life that it is difficult to believe that it is not also true in fact.
Mary Taylor is very young and quite new. She plays the daughter and is realistic in a self-consciousness that would be a risk for an actress of established reputation. We will either hear a great deal more about her or nothing at all.
John Howard, the object of her affections and the leader of the " reds," who, seeking the blood of the milliordire and getting his champagne, sing " For he's a jolly good fellow," is not quite so new and far less green, or is it good?
Alice Ducr Miller, as a governess, is better known as a popular novelist than for her acting.
Lionel Slander, very red and quite mad, makes his second masterly appearance of the week.
There is more in this picture than appears on the surface, or is there?
" Rose of the Rancho"
Paramount has made the first horse opera that is not opera only by courtesy. You can hear it at the Plaza. Rose of the Rancho is a singing "westernwhich introduces Gladys Swarthout, a lovely girl with the most delightfully luscious contralto imaginable. She has the range of a soprano with the round full volume in all her notes characteristic of the best contraltos. She is another recruit from the Metropolitan, where, it would seem, America, by a mixture of nationalities, is producing singers who can achieve a high artistry in singing without the sacrifice of physical beauty.
The picture is a poor setting for a magnificent jewel; a hackneyed story of squatters and vigilantes in the early days of California, when Spaniards were Californians and Americans were squatters, the fathers of the gangs. Even then they had "G" men, called, as now correctly, Federal agents, and John Boles is the first of them.
The dialogue is pathetic, and it is a desecration that the spell of lovely singing should be broken for the same sweet voice to say: "Come on, let's go." The humour is on a par with the dialogue.
High art is a thing to be built up to, not an incident to be inserted in a formula. If Paramount can realise that, Gladys Swarthout may get a worthy vehicle for a gift of God. Meanwhile God and her trainers are alone responsible for a lovely thing.
" Veille d'Armes "
This is In the Night Watch in the original French (with English sub-titles), with Annabella in the part of the captain's young wife played, after a deal of trouble, with conviction and restraint, by Madge Titheradge in the stage version. Annabella is equally convincing and quite as restrained; she follows worthily in the steps of a great actress.
It is the story of a young wife who had sown a half-wild oat with a young naval officer before she met his captain, whom she married.
In an unnecessary desire to persuade him to be reticent, she goes to the young officer's cabin when he is not there, gets locked in and carried off to sea, a thrilling battle, and an interesting situation.
The melodramatic climax comes when the captain is court-martialled and saved from conviction and disgrace by as fine a bit of impassioned acting as any "blood-tub" habitué could ask for. Annabella knows her onions and can do her stuff. She is due, in the summer, to make Ballerina for B. and D. at Elstree.
Victor Francen as the husband and Signoret as an old admiral are outstanding in a strong cast. The finish of the picture is in the nature of dn anti-climax and too protracted, but it is good, strong stuff.
Queen of Hearts"
In Monty Banks, •Associated Talking Pictures have found the ideal director for Gracie Fields. Perhaps it takes a great comedian to understand a great comedienne. Monty Banks is a great comedian who might have had a great reputation had he not preferred the thin end of the megaphone to its thick end.
He has recognised and exploited the essential comedy in "our Gracie," and let the glamorising look after itself, with the result that she has a better picture than ever before and has never looked so well on the screen.
She plays a gallery girl knocked about into stardom. She asks no quarter and robust direction gives her none. She is knocked about in a motor-car with a politely tight driver, turned into the illused end of an apache dance—and chased, bumped, squashed and battered behind the scenes by a policeman on her first night.
She sings in her own unusual manner and wears some lovely clothes. There is a vein of filial sentiment and a strain ("strain" is right) of love. It has everything the crowd wants.
As a picture, it bristles with cinematic faults, as entertainment it is great. The Fields-Banks combine understand their public. Gracie is a popular star, who makes popular pictures—this will be the most popular of them all.
" She Shall Have Music"
A nice little performance from that nice little performer June Clyde, Claude Dampier's customary drollery, a new eccentric in Freddie Schweitzer and a band with a big reputation used as an orchestra to accompany what is little more than an American-type "burley-cue" (burlesque) show complete with can-can, cross-talk and a Salome dance, the whole strung like beads on a thin story involving big business, a yacht, a mutiny and, of course, a world-wide broadcast and a happy ending.
WHERE THE MUSIC COMES FROM
Dance bands are materially very bad cinema and very good business. They are always better heard but not seen yet they can always persuade multitudes to look at them. Jack Hylton is unquestionably a good bandmaster, nor is there any doubt about his being a bad actor, whose efficient conducting hands seem always in his way in gesture. As film actors his boys are charming bandsmen.
Cinema is an industry, it is the film that pays that makes the film that pleases possible. Even if She Shall Have Music leaves Mayfair cold, it will be a riot in Rawcnstall.
A schoolmaster was giving an arithmetic lesson to small boys. One of them who was wrong in his figures was called upon to explain how he had arrived at his answer.
" If once nowt's nowt," argued the boy, " twice nowt must be summat, for its twice as much as nowt is."