Cinema has to be international. It could 'not pay its way unless it was. In its early days that was the great difficulty with which British studios had to contend. The British market was too small to make big British pictures a paying proposition. We bad either to extend our market or be con tent with little pictures.
America was less harnpeted. Her home market was in itself so big that she could 'afford to ignore foreign markets. Perhaps :it would have been better for her cinematic prestige if she had ignored them. She did not. She entered them and, not content with a reasonable share, she tried to swamp them. America made thc great mistake of entering the British market with all her output instead of with just the cream of it. With that mistake perhaps we will deal another time.
Our own studios found themselves dreadfully handicapped by their restricted Market. They got good ideas but could not afford to treat them worthily. They knew the limit to the possible profits of their films and had to limit their production expenses accordingly. They had to be content with the second-rate merely because they could not afford anything better.
Their equipment was second-rate, and their technicians were second-rate, too often they were Hollywood's throw-outs. There were a few first-rate artists, men and women who, like the great Americans, had started in the early days of cinema and
BRITISH THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL." A. 99 mins.
French revolution as background for adventure and romance; with Leslie Howard and it's grand.
"ABDUL THE DAMNED." A. 111 mins, Abdul Humid was a nasty piece of work and he is not spared. Strong but ( inclined to sag a bit.
*KEY TO HARMONY." A. 68 mins. Wrong key, hence discord.
AMERICAN ROBERTA." U.
Love in a Paris gown shop. Irene Dunne sings. Astaire and Rogers dance. Delightful.
"PEOPLE WILL TALK." A. 66 mins. And you will laugh.
" MR. FAINTHEART." U. 71 mins. Edward Everett Horton turns the tables on his boss.
"IT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK." U. 64 mins.
"MIDNIGHT BUTTERFLY." A. 69 mins.
Gangsters, night-clubs and a reporter You know.
" NIGHT ALARM." U. 66 mins. It's a false one.
"FIGHTING PILOT." U.
Old-tinier Richard Talmadge works hard.
stuck to their first love. But their names did not mean enough. They satisfied the small cinema public but, because they were never publicised, they could not draw new patrons. The industry looked elsewhere for its stars.
Stage stars were imported, and they came in at the top. They condescended to cinema even while they were living upon it. It was a profitable side-line. They earned from it but never learned it. The industry hoped their names would draw their theatre public. They did, and the theatre public realised how limited were the talents and how restricted the scope of their idols. Mannerisms that had, for years, passed for acting on the stage were. on the screea, just mannerisms. The British cinema was still second-rate.
The Quota Act came as a stimulating Injection. England wanted stars on its screens. The provinces did not know the stage stars and did not like them when they saw them. They did know Americao stars and they did like them. The industry, encouraged by the interest shown in it by the Quota Mt, decided to import; but, true to their tradition, they began with secondraters. They began by taking what Hollywood was finished with and found that Heckmondwilte and Huddersfield were finished with them too.
The British industry did not begin to look up until it began to look cast. Its first successful importations were continental importations; its first really successful films were English versions of comieental " polyglots." Europe could challenge America even if England could not.
Then came the American depression and the star raids. There was money in England and Mr-leans are invariably susceptible to a goel-rush. Their stars came and our star-material went. We complained that we were paying big money 1 or big people while they were paying little money for small ones. Bite their big names were selling our films in American markers while our small names are growing gradually in association with their hie
to be to the theatre. The experience is invaluable because it means real hard work and no glamour. If they don't work in Hollywood they don't eat. They must either work hard at work or harder looking for it. For every job in Hollywood there are a thousand applicants; they fight to get it and fight harder to keep it.
The work on the stage and the work on the set is only a part, and not the most important part, of an actor's training.
The International Picture
It is the gruelling, the pavement pounding, the stair climbing, the constant preparation of things that never get a show, the disappointment, disillusion and distress that make the artist. It is because so many of our would-be actors try to do their training in cocktail bars, or golflinks and at night clubs that they are still doing what they did ten years ago in the same second-rate way, only then it was promising.
The international picture has its dangers. It robs productions of their individuality or national distinction, and consequently eventually will rob them of their art. Art has always made an international appeal by its national characteristics. Internationalisation too easily degenerates into a sort of mass-production.
There is a danger in the very good " English " pictures that are being made in Hollywood, there is a danger in the " American type " picture being made in England. Each country has its own atmosphere its own characteristics and each can produce its own art, but neither can ever produce the art of the other, but only an imitation. It is well and wise to "Beware of Imitations."
NEW FILMS " Musik im Blut "
The Curzon The German film-makers have a genius for genuinity, or is it the p oprietors of the Curzon who are good pickers? Here is a film with nothing great about it and everything good; just like life.
A group of students in the Dresden Conservatoire of Music, a few professors and one superb parent. A set of ordinary people with music in their blood. A little love story with no high-lights and no crises. A lot of music, none of it great, all of it lovely in its lilting melodies. Characters that are a lesson in casting to all studios. Each player is his, or her, part with no semblance of crossing or confusion. The names of Leo Sleeak, Hanna Waag, Sybille Schmitz and Walter Ladengast ought to be outstanding in cinematic promise. They will not be, because they are buried in Hagedorn, Hannah, Carola and Zahlinger.
There is nothing stupendous. colossal. superb or magnificent about Musik int Blut; it is merely beautiful.
Simplicity strained after ceases to be simple. The Gricrson simplicity in Song of Ceylon (also at the Curzon) is a sad strained thing; vague when it should be elemental. blurred when it ought to have been bold. The beauty of the Dhama of Gautama the Buddha is killed by the funereal tones of the commentary in much the same way as a greater beauty is so often lost in parsonic utterance. Even Grierson can slip.
" Two for To-night"
The Plaza You might describe this picture as a " scream " and get away with it. To go farther is to find yourself in difficulties. The scenario might have been bought for the Marx Brothers and rationalised to fit Bing Crosby and Mary Boland with Lynne Overman and Ernest Cossart (a malaprop genius) to deal with the irreconcilable incidents. It is delightfully daft; one character is called Pooch because he was christened Puccini. Mary Boland, With a new husband in prospect, has disposed of four, one of whom she buried because he was dead, a reason both adequate and amusing.
Bing Crosby is our favourite crooner in spite of this picture. He sings a lot, but even a good singer is at a disadvantage without either melody or lyrics. He dances, too. as only a good singer dare. But you will like him as the unconscious sweetheart of Joan Bennett, who gets younger every picture.
Folk look for a good song from Bing Crosby; in that they will be disappointed, but the disappointment will be outweighed by the surprises, and the best surprise of all is Homps (Ernest Cossart for your notebook). A controlled riot of irresponsibility.
" Sweet Music "
The Regal The Bing Crosby picture lacks a good song. Sweet Music has one. It is called Good Green Acres and Rudy Vallee. with a male voice chorus, sings it. It has a lot of other things and people that aught to be good. There are Ann Dvorak, and Allen Jenkins, and Ned Sparks, and Robert Armstrong as a gangster-crooner. There are the Musical Maniacs smashing instruments and squirting soda water and there is a stage-nightclub-radio story about a crooner and a dancer. There is, as we said before, a good song but, whether Good Green Acres is worth all the other acres that are neither good nor green depends entirely upon how much you want a good song.
" The Crouching Beast