job To Be Done
Radio's Lesson To The Film
Pare Lorentz is a film name. It belongs to the American version of John Grierson, and its owner makes the States best-vintage documentaries. Its signature was last appended to The River (the Academy cinema are showing this film on Sundays) and previously it could have been seen on The Plow (American for Plough) that Broke the Plains.
Last week Pare Lorentz became a radio name for tens of thousands of listeners who were not potential audiences for this film, but who now after hearing Job to be Done, will at least realise that documentary is not dull (Job being sheer documentary film stuff transposed for the ear).
And getting documentary out of the highbrow rut is England's great difficulty. No one is prepared to believe that anything with such a suspicious name as documentary could avoid dryness—hence the hard spade-work put in by all our documentarists.
But Pare Lorentz seems to have had more sympathy from his people. Perhaps because in the States they are always prepared for a bit of "uplift "—I don't know. Anyway whatever Lorentz sets out to teach, he injects it plenty full of entertainment serum and makes his lessons 100 per cent. excitement.
The River (it was the story of the Mississippi that was told) had the magnificent booming press in this The Cold, Cold country t ha t it River richly deserved. It also had its critics. The most easily justified criticism was directed at its detached-IleSS – the radio feature Job provided this balance to The
River. If only it were possible to have these two projected in conjunction.
Of The River it was said that the film was cold. That the individual was ignored. That the men who man the dykes; the men who load the cotton; the men who crop the cotton fields were overlooked. Men were only cogs in the machinery of the state and mass effect only was considered.
All this is more than partially true, and dangerously so. From Job to he Done came the individual angle. Industrialism driving men north and south, east and west across the continent for work. Idealist worker No. 7790 caught by the vieion of big works in the West which are " renewing the face of the earth."
" They're building dams in the desert, they're cutting down mountains in the West. . . They blew up a mountain and made a lake in the desert and built the highest darn in the world."
So spoke worker • No. 7790, who is the focus point around which Lorente has radiated all World's Focal the industries of Point America.
There is prosperity in the automobile assembling plant in the beginning—machines throb. The straightline conveyor drives off a new car every half-minute. Then sales drop. Labour must be dropped too. Fewer workers needed for three days a week. Lay off. Lay off. . .
No 7790 on relief Treks west. Others in the west trek east. All American labour has 85 bucks in its pocket and is on the move.
To where is being built the highest dam in the world. (" But you can't eat (Jams.") To where they're changing the course of the second biggest river in the country. (" But they can't figure out how to feed eleven million of us.") To where they hit quicksand and stuck brine pipes in and froze 'er and then dug it out. (" But the big boys have the machines and there's nothing hut relief for the little man.") That's the theme and the tempo of Job which showed another side to The River
but is nevertheless Theme: Tragk complementary to it. Tempo: Staccato This time the states'
problems are seen from the individual's side.
1 wonder shall we hear the faint cry of the critic . . . " hysterical impressionism,"
" shallow thinking," " lack of intimacy," " fake poetic " trailing behind Job to be Done? Although the methods of catalogues of names sung into a rhythm. of machine-beat music, of impressionistic dialogue are even more thickly spread than in The River (words are even more needed for visual effect in Job), I think the complaints will be fewer.
Why? Because it is not less effect that the critics demanded in their film but more and more humanity. In the Job they got everything.
The Crowd Roars
Whether dressed in white tie and tails (and, of course, all the rest), or simply in a pair of satin trunks, Robert Taylor continues to excite amorous palpitations in the hearts of 95 per cent. of the world's typists, also I believe in the hearts of a similar proportion of the world's stenographers, shop assistants, secretaries, and lonely suburban wives.
I leave it to the pedant who drinks life out of the lists of box office statistics to question the accuracy of my figures.
I am only concerned with saying that a lot of women have a pash on Robert Taylor and, so Jong as he is given films like The Crowd Roars, will continue to have a path on him until old age or the flesh pots of California give him a corporation.
In his new film Taylor is a boxer, an American boxer—and that, of course, makes the story because, as all cinema frequenters know, boxing, like all other sports, trades, professions and sciences in the U.S.A., is a racket.
Taylor goes into the racket. makes a good deal of money on which his drunken father —brilliantly done by Frank Morgan—keeps drunk. and keeps in debt through betting. In order to pay off a particularly pressing and heavy debt, Taylor has to fight his old friend and trainer. He does so, kayoes him (Kayoe, v., knock out, disable a pugilist so that he cannot respond to calf of " rime," vanquish), and kills him.
Taylor leaves racket, looks for job, and, as this is U.S.A., 1938, comes back to
racket. With the co-operation of super bookie—Edward Arnold—to whom father has been continually in debt, he goes energetically into the shadiest and most profitable depths of the racket.
But one day, when the sun is shining, and in the countryside the unrepentant Robert is training, he meets super bookie's daughter—Maureen O'Sullivan-who, with a smart sports coupe and a beautiful but gushing friend—acted by Jane Wyman whose almost too effective ingenuousness makes us wonder why a level-headed girl like Maureen should choose her as a friend —has broken bounds from the exclusive boarding school to which papa bookie has sent her so that she may not know of his shady business.
Of course Maureen and Robert fall in
love, and of ,course papa Arnold gets to hear about it and erects the usual obstacles to love's course.
Eventually the bottom drops out of the racket. Robert is forced by circumstances too complicated to be gone into here to be battered helplessly in seven rounds of a fight as a prelude to allowing himself to be kayoed (verb previously translated) in the eighth.
The battering takes place, and very brutalising it is, but after all the kayo does not come off, not on Robert anyway, because Maureen gets free in time from— however, that's telling the story.
The world's typists, stenographers, secretaries, shop assistants and lonely suburban wives are going to like this film, and I think their male friends will also.
Empire. P. P. T.