don Festival, which has now ended, there seems a scarcity of ordinary commercial movies. Many of my fellow critics apparently feel impelled to write some degree of apologia for the Film Festival, although hardly any of them can feel apologetic for three weeks which bring us a skimming of the year's alleged best films.
The selection serves to widen the horizons of the everyday film critic, to stimulate reflection on his own function of film critic, and to supply a point of reference for his standards.
Courage is not, I suppose, a quality which many people feel enters closely into the life of a film critic. I don't often, if ever. win admiration fur the horror and offences I sometimes endure from movies. At most, people ask me if I don't get bored with seeMg so many movies (1 don't). Yet this very question of the courage to be demanded of a film critic has occupied me several times during the Festival.
As a young film critic I used to feel it my stoic duty to look upon everything that might be pot upon the screen; not to flinch from the insertion of the surgeon's knife or hypodermic needle; not to avert my eyes from horrors of blood or mud, or from those falling horses if by looking out I could tell whether they jumped up and ran off or whether they had been brought down by a trip wire.
One of my objections to the film equivalent of the "Theatre of Cruelty" is not that a film may tackle a subject considered cruel —like fox-hunting or bullfighting
but that the present mode of realism consists in inflicting some of the pain and torture nearly physically on the spectator.
So when the French director Rouch's film Lion Hunt was described in the Festival programme notes as "Not for the squeamish", I decided gratefully to be numbered among the squeamish and to avail myself of a perfectly legitimate other obligation which prevented me from attending that Press show. On the other hand Fasten Rossi's Moment of Truth seeemed to me obligatory. Having loathed the bullfights I have seen, I am neither an enthusiast nor a connoisseur.
But a certain humility and open mind seems in order for the honoured and ancient sport of a great people which I always hope may one day be illuminated for me to understand.
So it was a little dashing to the only known afficionado among film critics assuring us that the film was unsound on bullfighting and Miguel's fascinating ways of playing with the bull, kneeling before him, or scratching his poll, was only the equivalent to playing to the gallery.
The film, however, has widened my horizon and I daresay made a substantial contribution to my view. And it is absurd that such a picture cannot he publicly shown in this country.
Satyajit Ray seems to dominate all other Indian film makers from a class of his own, Two more of his pictures, Kapurush and Mahapurash were among the Festival's plums and added to the body of Ray's work with fascinating hindsight upon the country once evidently so permeated by British influence.
The first film has a roughly social triangle problem. Typically even in this type of story Ray seems to present his characters, it would seem, at least a whole skin deeper than to which we are accustomed. Mahapurush or the Holy One I found even more delightful for the spontaneous humour of its presentation of a fraudulent holy man and his group of intellectual sycophants.
It is just possible that out of the central situation of A Very Special Favour ("X", New Victoria) a different director, different dialogue writers and
two ,nut of three different stars might have made a frothy, even witty, comedy.
But given a hero (Rock Hudson) who complains that women find him irresistible, a heroine (Lesley Caron) who is some kind of psychiatrist and so far on the way to becoming an old maid that her father (Charles Boyer) has to beg the irresistible one to turn his attentions to her, this team never seems to have a hope of getting it off the ground.
Even Charles Boyer has to work very hard to recall his old Gallic charm. Rock Hudson works hard too, but never gets nearer the mark than a poor girl's Cary Grant.
Freda Bruce I Anthari THE week that Eric Sykes lashes out at the "cutthroat" world of television acting brings to the National Theatre a play which shows the acting profession has not always had a history of bitter rivalry and "dog eats dog" attitude.
In Pincer's Trelawny of the Wells we see there was a time when the profession was nearly as close-knit as a happy family. Pines, who became an actor in Islington when only 19 remembers with warmth and affection his acting days in this charming revival, originally produced at
DOyou want to get away
from it all? To get away from the crowds. the noise, the weariness of modern life? Would you like a holiday somewhere where there is peace, where the air is pure and free from smoke and diesel fumes, where there are no railwayi. and no noisy motor-bikes or traffic jams?
Where the English arc welcomed as friends, where the country is unspoiled by tourist commercialisation? Where there are exciting new attractions, where food is good and hotels are reliable? Where the Joneses have not yet been?
Gone are the days when Iceland took weeks to reach. It is now as near as Rome. Three hours; and you're already there. And what a surprise awaits you.
It is not a land of Eskimos and igloos, after all. It is a delightful land with a friendly cultured people. An independent republic which enjoys a democracy akin to our own.
Although Iceland has no railways, from the capital Reykjavik good roads lead to all parts of the island. There are frequent bus services linking the various communities, and good car-hire facilities. Also, sehe
Chichester by the Old \ IC CoalpAny.
Sc! against a background of theatrical lodgings and a mansion house in Cavendish Square, actors and actresses are seen as kind, resourceful and very cheerful people at the turn of the century.
First produced for Pinero at the Royal Court in 1898 "The Wells" revolves around actress, Miss Trelawny and how her fortunes link with those of unproduced but undeterred playwright, Tom Wrench (Robert Stephens).
Miss Trelawny, beautifully played by Louis Purnell, decides to forsake the acting profession and marry into the safety of a rich, but pompous family. This brings her into contact with the patriarchal vice-chancellor, Sir William Gower, played with just the right mixture of nastiness and wit by Robert Curran.
Misfortune comes to Islington (or Clerkenwell as it is in the play) and from hereon Pinero shows us the resignation and humour with which these on the stage accepted their lot.
The play closes with the bright young things replacing the old-timers but with no resentment or jealousy from the latter.
To sum up. a journey into Victorians where misfortune brings out the best in people. It was a delight to share their joys and sorrows.
Michael Grattan duled steamers link the coastal towns and villages, You'll find Reykjavik a delightful town of fun and gaiety. It is very colourful, for the Icelanders like their houses in bright reds, yellows and greens.
An evening at one of the many dinner-dance restaurants will certainly bring your ideas on Iceland up to date, You'll like usnu, the national drink, too -just try it.
Without doubt, the most remarkable feature of Iceland is its hot springs. These are surprisingly numerous, and are found at all levels even at the edge of the ice itself! Iceland's pride is the Great Geyser which throws a fountain of boiling water and steam nearly 200 feet into the air, a really unforgettable sight.
The Icelanders make good use of this perpetual supply of boiling water, too. It is piped to Reykjavik where it supplies every house with free central heating, does most of the cooking and furnishes open-air swimming pools even in mid
BRITISH 'TF.LEVISION -1-P reached the heights during the days. when Sir Winston Churchill was dying, culminating in brilliant coverage of his funeral.
This week I was given a preview of a programme which you will see on Monday, November 29 on BBC-1. It is called Two Days in London and its screening coincides with what would have been Sir Winston's birthday.
This is a film of ordinary people and what they were doing as well as glimpses of moments in a great ceremonial occasion. People trudging along; in a queue at the lying-in-state; a paper seller: soldiers grooming their horses; the assembling of the gun carriage; people lying waiting huddled in a blanket;
ambulance men at work; a record of the countless human off-beat moments behind a national occasion.
All of this has been condensed into 25 minutes of brilliant television. This is the sort of programme which could and should capture a television "Oscar".
Ian James winter. No wonder the country has no use for smoky fuel!
There is so much to see in Iceland. for it has so much to show you -and so much that Is different. This island has no less than 30 active volcanoes. and it is a remarkable sight to see the volcano rising from the Vatnajokult, Europe's largest glacier. Fire in the midst of Practically the whole of Iceland is covered with an age-old lava. and in places this forms the most fantastic shapes. as at Lake Myvatn, a real paradise for lovers of nature. There are also numerous rivers and grand waterfalls. Two in particular you really must not miss visiting ---Gullfoss (the Golden Fall) and in the north the Dettifoss.
lee-land is today only three hours away, and although on the fringe of the Arctic is stands
in the middle of the Gull' Stream. thereby enjoying a moderate and equable climate.
There is so much more we could tell you, but go and see for yourself.. Then come back and tell the Joneses about it!
Inquiries regarding :ravel should be accompanied by a stamped, addressed envelope and sera to: "Going Away", Catholic, Herald, 67 Fleet Street, London, F.C.4