no miracle =--=
By GRACE CONWAY 'Catholic Herald' Film Critic
MANON DES SOURCES Rialto: Certificate U Director: Marcel Pagnol
OR once we get a priest in a French film who is robust, forthright and speaks with authority. For that, after a long succession of caricatures, we are thankful.
And yet he is made to subscribe to a hit of equivocation which may well music the non-Catholic and the convert. The spring that supplies a Provençal village mysteriously dries up. The priest arranges a procession in honour of St. Dominic to intercede for the resumption of the spring.
Just before the procession starts, a girl from the hills who has a grudge against the villagers for their cruelty towards her dead father comes and tells the priest that it was she who stopped the flow of water but that she has now put it right.
"Don't hold the procession, Father," she says. "The people will think it is a miracle."
But the priest goes on with the procession. If the actual restoration of the water is not a miracle, he says, the miracle has been wrought in her.
As the procession reaches the village pump, the water gushes out. And the priest seems to allow the credulous ones to believe in this obvious miracle.
Still, it was good to see this normal, hard-hitting priest preaching a resounding sermon to his unusually full congregation and wondering aloud at the presence of what he playfully calls the "intellectuals" — members of the village council—who, he says, generally spend Mass time at the café. "They must think God is very simple," he remarks.
The film is long but this is Provence, where no one is ever in a hurry. They have time to talk and mull over the events of the day— and Manon, who stops up their spring as a bit of poetic punishment for what they did to her father, gives them lots to talk about.
As Marion, Jacqueline Pagnol has both intelligence and beauty. Henri Vilbert is the curt, and the rest of the actors look and speak as though they had never spent a day outside the village. Venal, voluble and likeable—all of them.
THE ISLAND SINNER Pavilion, Marble Arch: .Certificate A Director: Sergio Corbucci
AN Italian whodunit set on a delectable island off Sicily.
The wealthy boss of the island, owner of the fishing boats and most of the lands. brings home as his iecond wife a beautiful girl who not only has him in thrall but several of the Young men on the island. (This part Played with all the stops out by Silvana Pampanini).
Unfortunately. the girl is bad as well as beautiful and when she is murdered and a police inspector comes to make investigations, her life on the island is related in a series of flashbacks.
In spite of its consequent "bittiness," interest is held because of the talented Italian cast and because of the beguiling beauty of the land and seascape against which the story is told.
This is the type of plot which the Italians can put across so convincingly. There is not a contrived character or situation in the whole
HONDO, Warners: Certificate U Director: John Farrow
THOSE Apaches are with us again. Hollywood never tires of them. But, then, if they are all as good as this one, neither will we. They have now graduated to 3-D and we get the usual ration of things thrown at us — including dead Apaches who roll on to our knees.
The scene is a lonely ranch in New Mexico inhabited by a woman (Geraldine Page) and her small son (Lee Aaker). The man of the house went away and forgot to come back. But a U.S. cavalry despatch rider (John Wayne) arrives and steals her heart.
Now, John Wayne always looks as though he has been bred and born in this sort of territory. It is Geraldine Page who is the surprise. Wearing her own face, shiny with farm work and burnt tawny with the sun (she has to say "I know I'm homely"), she is the most rearwoman to conic in front of the Hollywood cameras for a long time.
Director John Farrow shows her and her little boy against the enormous dusty expanse of the flat, treeless land, accenting the utter isolation of the two. Nor does he forget the blessing of silence. Throughout, music is used with utmost discrimination—only a quiver or two on the violins when a tender moment is approaching.
Battle, pursuit, slaughter arc in the old tradition. What is new is the "mea culpa" note that makes the white man acknowledge he broke his word to the Apaches when the treaty was broken, which looks, when all things are considered, that, like everyone else in this world, cowboys and Indians have eventually to grow up.
THE DARK STAIRWAY Warners: Certificate U Director: Ken Hughes
C COTLAND Yard. in a half-hour L., documentary, shows us how it solved "The Greek Street Murder." A neat, exciting piece of reconstruc
tion which might be used as an antidote to the "vice can be so glamorous" school.
THE MAGGIE Odeon, Marble Arch: Certificate U Director: Alexander Mackendrick
EAL1NG have been over the Border again—to the West coast of Scotland—and have brought back another winner.
"The Maggie" is an old puffer boat which chugs between the Islands of the Inner Hebrides and the mainland. She is all but ready for the scrap-yard when a gift from Heaven appears in the shape of an American high-pressure business man (Paul Douglas), who has a cargo of valuable material waiting to be shipped to one of the islands.
Not another single ship is available.
The theme is the clash of the Highland and American temperaments. Timelessness versus time neuroticism —which seems as good a way as any to describe the modem obsession with time-saving.
A whole new company of actors, practically all Scots, confronts us, from the steady drinking skipper (Alexander Mackenzie) to the ship's "wee boy" (Tony Kearins), who nearly kills the American tycoon when he learns that he has bought the ship from under their feet.
All the acting is in the best tradition of all "native" actors—France, Italy and Ireland included.