ROMAN HOLIDAY. Carlton: Certificate A Director: William Wyler
IF you think that all stories about Ruritania are the exclusive territory of Hollywood musicals there is a surprise for you here. With only the most discreet orchestra in the background, and in and around all the best-loved and best-known spots in Rome, a Rurilanian princess, aged 18, comes on a visit-the last phase in her goodwill tour of Europe to improve trade relations with her country.
A shot of her progress through London shows crowds-equalling in size those at the Coronationgreeting her with shouts of joy. In Rome, she is escorted by what looks like the sort of turn-out that Mussolini put on for Hitler. By the time the film opens the poor girl is nervy and worn out.
And no wonder, with hordes of the international Press meeting her in every European capital and asking her questions about problems that are shaking old and worried statesmen the world over. That part of the film I cannot take-knowing what hard-boiled political correspondents are like and what they would say if their editors asked them to carry out an assignment like this.
But. I suppose, once you accept this fictitious kingdom to which the "Princess Ann" is heir. you have to get ready to leave reality behind in the foyer. And, very soon, probability is pushed on one side and personality takes over.
With Gregory Peck as an American journalist answering to the homely name of Joe Bradley, and in newcomer Audrey Hepburn as the Princess, this side of the entertainment is in safe keeping.
Miss Hepburn, who in many a shot recalls the elfin appeal of Jean Simmons. makes a notable debut in her first big film role. She is equally credible as a Princess and as a girl enjoying her first and last day and love affair in Rome "off the royal leash" with Joe.
I'm afraid that there is little that is startingly new in the plot, and you can see the end coming very early. For you know that, opportunist journalist though Gregory Peck may be to start with, he will not exploit the Princess in a news story, and that all the candid camera shots will somehow never be used.
When Eddie Albert, as a cameraman, is persuaded to come along and "shoot" Princess Ann smoking her first cigarette and finally hitting a C.T.D. man with a chair. you can be sure that these two decent Americans will never cash in on their wonderful scoop. Nor do they.
William Wyler out of this rather far-fetched material has made a charming and often witty film, with Rome photographed affectionately and so intimately that to all who have been there it is a happy rcmindcr.
ONE ENCHANTED EVENING New Gallery: Certificate A Director: Carl Froelich
SHADES of the widow Nadernda Von Meek-the lady who subsidised Tchaikovsky for 14 years without once meeting him.
In this sadly garbled hit of musical biography-and Germany who lives only next door to Russia eught to know betterit appears that the woman who financed him was a former mistress. Unknown I.o her rich husband she uses the munificent allowance from him to help Tchaikovsky. Some fine playing by the Berlin State Opera Orchestra and a good ballroom scene are marks on the credit side. But as for the story, don't believe a word of it. Go and read Tchaikovsky's life by a reputable author.
The film is in German with English captions.
THE SINNER Cameo-Polytechnic: Certificate X Director: Will Forst
GERMAN-MADE, with Hildegarde Neff practically never cif the sound track in an English narrative, this is the story of a prostitute who befriends a drunken painter, When the domestic exchequer needs replenishing. she goes back to the streets. When he becomes blind, she poisons him-and then herself.
A sordid affair, and so melodramatic in parts that there were several laughs in the wrong places.
"She was immoral and unserapulous," said Miss Neff of another girl in the cast. Relative values?
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS I.ondon Pavilion: Certificate X Director: Eugene Lowrie
A S this tale of a prehistoric mon
ster unearthed by an atom-bomb blast in the Arctic progressed, I thought how children will enjoy it. And then I remembered it has an X certificate. They won't be able to go.
I find here a neat lesson for those who are always looking forward and never back. It's had enough when the monster ploughs about in the snow and the sea demolishing lighthouses and ships.
' But the real trouble begins when he pops his scaly head over New York's quayside and proceeds to break the place up. A foolhardy policeman who shoots at him is gobbled up. gun and all, It takes the Army, the police and finally a large blast of radio-active isotope to finish him off. But not before he has chewed up the greater part of Coney Island.
A lonely, unhappy monster this, but I can't forgive him for swallowing Cecil Kellaway-eminent patentologist when he goes down in a bathoscopc to look for him on the sea bed.
LET'S DO IT AGAIN Leicester Square Theatre: Certificate A Director: Alexander Hall A RUN of the mill farce about Clone woman (Jane Wyman) and three men (husband Ray Milland, Aldo Ray and Tom Helmore).
It starts with a divorce and thence all its energies are bent towards getting the two reconciled before the decree becomes absolute. One of the main characters is a hot water bottle which is discarded only at half a minute before zero hour for th2 decree.
It's all silly-but silliness of the expensive sort. I got quite a shock when Jane Wyman appeared twice in the same negligee.