by FREDA BRUCE LOCKHART
TWO new Hollywood pic tures inspire the instant reaction—part comfort, part irritation: "Good Heavens! are they still making this one?"
Airport ("A," Odeon. Leicester Square) is as conventional a concoction as any film-insurer could wish of "Grand Hotel," "V.I.P.s" and any journey by star-laden plane, ship or train whose passenger list includes a saboteur, criminal or lunatic — and of course a stowaway.
The Trans-Global Boeing takes an unconscionable time to get off the ground, not so much owing to the wintry weather as to the introductory scenes spent sorting out the marital troubles of the airport manager (Burt Lancaster), his outgoing wife (Dana Wynter) and professional and private left-hand woman (Jean Seberg).
These preliminaries are only enlivened, and slightly, by the presence of Helen Hayes squandering her talents on the comic cameo of a little old lady professional stowaway.
The flight itself, piloted by Dean Martin abd with Van Heflin on board as a suicidal neurotic carrying a bomb in an attache-case, is almost as exciting as an early Hitchcock train trip.
Had "Airport" been most of an hour shorter it might be equally exciting entertainment. Besides all the stars already mentioned, Maureen Stapleton as a distraught wife, Jacqueline Bisset as a pregnant stewardess, and Lloyd Nolan as a Customs officer demand honourable mention.
The Only Game in Town ("A," Carlton) recalls another timeworn Hollywood tradition: the improbable romance between two unlikely people in impossible circumstances sustamed by by the supposed magic of their personalities.
This game starts with the advantage of the potent stardust of Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty as, respectively, an ex-model and a pianistgambler. Both are stranded in Las Vegas, he by his losses at the tables, she to await her lover whose wife won't give him a divorce.
In George Stevens, too, they have one of the most gifted if not most even of directors. The encounter between the two stars is electric enough to strike some sparks at the start and give the film an impetus of hope. When the lover suddenly turns up with his divorce, only to find his claim ill-timed, there seems promise of a new situation.
Frank D. Gilroy's screenplay from his own play fails to fulfil this promise, or to follow up the fairly bright opening with enough wit to prevent the affair running down in tedious monotony, with constant recourse to the tables, into a two-star turn, admirably performed but with inadequate materiaL
Games today come in all shapes and sizes — and colours. Miklos Jancso's The Confrontation ("A,Academy One) is a complex exploration of the different plays in the game of establishing a Communist regime.
Here the game is pictured in terms of ballet or modern folkdance, and set in the courtyard of a monastic school in Hungary just after the war. Communism had just been imposed, am' we see the shifting revolutionary moods and
ideals, reflected in student protest and exuberance in the inevitable pressures and terror.
This, Jancso'41/4 first colour film, makes even more flexible and delicate use of mobile groupings than his black and white pictures such as "The Round-up" or "The Red and the White."
It also makes the same impression of being more concerned with human beings than with the sides they take. Hence there is a brave comment underlying the deliberately decorative spectacle and the gaily moving groups.
In the same programme, Bagnolo ("U") is an engaging
quasi-documentary account (mainly by Germans, apparently) of a small Italian town where the parish priest does his best to win back unbelievers and keep his end up in the amiable confrontation between the Church and the Communist and co-op lures to the land-hungry.
Contempt ("X," ParisPullman) is not, I gather, one of Jean-Luc Godard's latest pictures and is a compromise with rather more commerical interests than he usually concedes. The story, from a novel by Alberto Moravia, is about the production in Capri of a film about Ulysses for an American producer (Jack Palance).
The film is to be directed by the great Fritz Lang (playing himself) to be written by a French dramatist (Michel Pic-. coil) whose wife, Camile, is played by Brigitte Bardot.
The picture-planning scenes are exceptionally sharp and amusing as well as sensationally photographed. But the main theme is the gradual collapse of the writer's marriage in the corrupt atmosphere of international filmdom as his wife suspects he is involving her, too. in the transactions and her love turns to contempt., A very long scene between husband and wife holds remarkably, and though Godard's film ends in melodrama his mastery compels the attention. Indoors and out the photography is spectacular. The "X" certificate is presumably earned by shots of Brigitte Bardot in the nude — and very pretty.