Certificate A: Empire Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
THE guys are the Da mon
Ruman characters who come out on to New York's Times Square as the neon lights go up and go to bed as the milk cans begin to rattle on the streets. And the dolls are the girls in their lives. The craze for Runyan was in the thirties but since Frank Loesser put them to music they have been given a new lease of life, This brings the present cycle of mammoth musicals to a close. It makes no attempt to enchant the eye in the way that the previous ones have done. The scene is strictly urban beginning with prosaic city streets and ending up in a New York sewer.
Yet this very limitation has been accepted as a challenge by the producers. They have evolved a symphony of half tones rusting sewage pipes, pot holes retaining pools of water after rain that is at times very effective.
1 And the story ? A comely
Salvation Army lass (Jean Simmons) becomes involved in all innocence in a gamble between crap game players in general and with one Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) in particular. 'Their romance develops against the background of the "nightbirds" trying to find a place. for their next game which the police won't find.
Before the two and a half hours it takes has run out, this begins to pall in spite of the presence of Frank Sinatra as the organiser in chief (and singer) and the charm and competence of Miss Simmons.
Marlon Brand°, looking at times embarrassed and singing in a croaky and quite unmusical voice — is plainly out of his element. No musical comedy actor he. If there is to be a palm awarded I would give it to the male dancers — strenuous athletic stuff, brilliantly composed, especially the "sewer" number performed by the "guys." The girls, in the honky tonk, were. I thought, pretty awful.
BIGGER THAN LIFE Certificate X: Riaho Director: Nicholas Ray I N his first independent pro duction James Mason (also playing the leading role) has turned to social reform in an effort (so we are tolch to show up the evil of present day addiction to pills of all sorts. The drug he has chosen for his theme is the new "miracle" Cortisone -and he has brought down the wrath of the medical profession on his head.
I really don't wonder.
Not long ago I read a cool, clinical report of the case history on which this story is based in the New Yorker. It told of a man whose otherwise fatal physical condition (was it heart ? — I've forgotten) was cured by cortisone but, as the dosage was too strong the patient became unbalanced. He imagined he was "ten feet tall" mentally and physically — and did all sorts of peculiar things like ordering expensive dresses for his wife for which he couldn't pay. Unfortunately this has all been hotted up into turgid melodrama in which the man's wife (Barbara Rushl and his small son. are terrified out of their wits. He even ends Is) brandishing huge scissors in preparation for the sacrifice of his son — after the style of Abraham and Isaac, Perhaps if Mr. Mason had put benzedrine in the stocks, his little sermon would have been more effective. In this country, I believe, it is not easy to get large quantities of cortisone and in any case the British medical profession is always cagey about a new drug until it has been tried on the "dog."
RUN FOR THE SUN Certificate A: Leicester Square Theatre Director: Roy Boulting
rus is as unlike a Boulting
effort as we are ever likely to see. Shot in Mexico, with Richard Widmark as an embittered writer, Jane Greer as a New York journalist, and our own Trevor Howard as one Lord Haw Haw who got away, it is a nightmare of jungle, baying bloodhounds —and some wild animals thrown in for good measure.
EVERY SECOND COUNTS Certificate U: Gann:oat Director: Alex Joffe
A LIVELY French picture (with
English sub-titles) which I enjoyed enormously. It's all about a young garage mechanic (JeanMarc Thibaut) who has neglected to fix the steering screw on a car that came in for repairs -and the agony he goes through when the owner calls and takes it away while he is out.
Of course. the director, who knows how to get the last ounce of suspense from such a situation, shows us the three reckless people in the car speeding and singing as the screw (shown in a succession of nerve-wracking close-ups) gets looser and looser.
All told against the ordinary life of the small town whose immediate distraction is a velo race—France's second obsession.
Also at the Gaumont is a firstrate British comedy — THE GREEN MAN — with Alastair Sim as a man who has dedicated his life to blowing pompous asses to pieces. You know how funny murder can be in a British film. Here is. one double bill I heartily applaud.