Page 10, 20th November 1936

20th November 1936
Page 10
Page 10, 20th November 1936 — NIGHTINGALE IN STAINED-GLASS
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NIGHTINGALE IN STAINED-GLASS

Sister-Picture To Pasteur

From Our Film Correspondent Medical-mindedness seems to bc a trait of the Warner Brothers. They gave us the saga of the pioneer doctor in Pasteur, which was acclaimed everywhere for its high seriousness and integrity, and now they have given us the saga of the pioneer nurse in The White Angel, which has the same honesty of purpose but is not quite so successful in execution.

. The story of The White Angel is the story of Florence Nightingale, and as such is better known even than was the story of Pasteur. Therefore very careful handling was necessary if the whole thing was not to have that twice-told tale atmosphere about it. And the whole trouble is, that in spite of very careful production, The White Angel is definitely a twice-told tale.

Legend-Lore

Soon after her death legends grew thick about the memory of the Nightingale. Her single-mindedness and courage elevated

THIS WEEK'S RELEASES

FURY ( A). American.

A Him which, trots out the journalist's complete stock of adjectives that mean power, and grimness and ruelodriLfna and strong-stuff. Spencer Tracy is the hero of this violent expmaire of the lynching laws.

THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (A). American.

Bright like the brass of the ocean liner on which the Atlantio crossing is made in this always-totbe-forgotten comedysatire of Fred MacNliirray and Carobo Lombard.

THE WALKING DEAD (A). American.

Macabre and murky.Boris Karloff perambulates after a visit to the bank Scientist discovers how to bring people back to liie. Theology will not bt. affected by t1Ii4 romancing horrifie,

SECRET INTERLUDE (A). American.

A " back-stairs " story with a simple mond. High moment in the drama when here knocks out villain with ime skull-splintering inw punch. it 's Loretta Young that gets into the trouble.

LABURNUM GROVE (A). British.

A Priestley play converted to the Hereen. About an old gentlermie who erez..,s iomatoes—and you never would Slitifleel It—forges banknotes. Edallind tea ell is a rich and satisfying treat.

GAY ADVENTURE (A). British.

Comedy of crook kind. Yvonne Arnaud and Barry Jones carry the fun through creaking stagecraft.

her into a stained glass state of sanctity of which no exaggeration of almost miraculous powers were denied to her.

Then came along the school of Strachey biographers who. beginning with Strachey himself and passing on to the playwright Reginald Berkeley, wrote of the popular heroine with a sting in their tails. They at least were determined to earth the heavenward winging Nightingale and elevate instead the human Florence.

For the sake perhaps of a simpler-minded public than the Lytton Strachey readers or the Reginald )3erkeley playgoers, the scenario-writer, Mordaunt Shairp (who is himself a playwright of distinction) has gone back upon the tracks and has reconstructed a less human Florence in the real stained glass tradition.

Up Drama—Down Psychology This lessens the value of the psychological interest of the picture but probably

heightens dramatic values. It is tiresome to have a young woman moaning about lack of purpose in life—as though purpose could cnly be outside of self activity, preferably connected with committee of the Purposes nature --but it can only be stated that unless the young Florence had agitated for this all-important purpose the work would never have been accomplished.

It is not the agitation that I am quarrelling with, but the representation of it. Poor Florence laments her lack of purpose in the same almost simpering way in which a lady of fashion sighs for a position in the organ

isation of a charitable bazaar. Politeness is all very admirable but the fierce, relentless spirit that was in Florence surely drove kr to more warlike measures against her tradition of inactive gentility.

General

I have a shrewd suspicion that she was not a really lady-like young Miss at any point in her development. least of all when sue wanted her own way.

Good Material Wasted '

So in keeping with the tender sweetness of its name, The White Angel takes its ordained course among the halo-endowing biographies, which somehow defeat their own ends by de-humanising their objects and mocking their own haloes.

More's the pity that this film has failed because its material was good. Kay Francis in the part of the white angel has seldom had such an inspiring part to demand of

her imagination and integrity. She gives of her best; is often impressive; always charmingly decorative even in a cholera infected, rat-ridden vault of a hospital, and is utterly sincere even when the sicklysweet words of the scenarist must nearly choke her.

Although it has nothing to do with the film, I should like to remind readers of a sentence in Florence Nightingale's own writings which showed her appreciation of discipline and training wherever she found it. She wrote to Cardinal Manning: " What training is there compared to that of the Catholic nun? . . . There is nothing like the training which the Sacred Heart or the Order of St. Vincent gives to women."

Our Two-sidedness

Physiognomy always had a fascination for me, and a film this week brought out a subtle point about people's faces that never struck me before. If His Lordship interested me for no other reason it, at least, intrigued me by the exposure of the enormous disparity between a man's right profile and that of his left. (Explanations later).

I began to wonder if one couldn't he a had-tempered old villain on the right of one's face and an incarnation of angellast?: on the left; and if the right corner of one's mouth couldn't curl in disgust at ihe identical joke that one's left corner chuckled into one's whiskers about.

All this diversion came about by the antics of George Arliss, who in the film of His Lordship, is not content to play one lead--he must play two leads. So you get the opportunity to watch Mr. Arliss have converse with Mr. Arliss—both on the set together. You have the opportunity of watching that two-faced gentleman disporting himself at double advantage

Twin-brother Stunt

This twin-brother stunt is the only really brilliant thing about a mediocre film. The story of His Lordship is banal and presents politics for the simpleton in the situation in which a pompous and well-attired ass of a foreign secretary nearly upsets the world apple-cart, but is prevented by a music-hall impersonation of himself by his own twin. Entertaining, but highly improbable, in a world where realities are the standard of judgment.

I await a further film when Mr. George Arliss will play not only both the leads but also all the " extras" too. What would be the position regarding salaries. I wonder?

I. C.




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