WHEN I talked to Ronald Colman the day after he arrived in this country, he told me that, since he has been freelancing, Ile sometimes waits for a year before he finds a script that appeals to him. After 25 years of stardom he can afford to do that. He had been " havering " about a Somerset Maugharn Ashenden picture but as soon as he read Double Life (now at LEMEs rutSQUARE THEATRE) he clinched matters and said " That is the pie
lure for me."
But is it ? Double Life has for its central figure a Broadway actor with permanent star-billing who becomes possessed with the personality of the particular character he is acting at the lime. As his exwife and pertnanent co-star (Signe 1-lasso) says of him-he is only tolerable when he is playing gay, carefree parts. When he is persuaded to play Othello, small wonder she blenches, for Othello was a murderer and-well . .
A BROADWAY CHANGE
What is worse, this impressionable actor Would like to improve upon Shakespeare and instead of strangling Desdemona with a scarf, thinks he would like to try out his own ending by strangling her with a kiss, thus going beyond the borderline of ordinary murder into something even more repellent.
It is on this threat and the spectacle of the man's obsession degenerating int() madness, that the suspense of the story is built and, although it is not Desdemona who is murdered, you have several opportunities of watching a nearstrangulation in that harrowing last scene in the bedchamber. The actual victim is a little light o' love waitress whose mother, unlike the Itma child, has never told her not to talk to strange. men. Ronald Colman, gifted as he is with voice, personality and the art that conceals art in film technique, however he may succeed in the part of the actor himself, makes little impression in the Othello scenes. Nor is this surprising. You cannot serve Shakespeare " cold." You cannot lift a scene that is the climax of a great tragedy and photograph it three or four times without inducing in the spectator a sense of boredom. This is what happens here-and it is not made any more credible by the artificial blonde make-up of Miss }lasso as Desdemona. If this is the kind of Shakespeare that runs on Broadway for three years-but we all know it isn't.
TOO MANY DEATHS
The great thing about Double Life is that it brings back Ronald Colman to the screen which is so badly lb need of adult, intelligent actors, The film is well-scripted and beautifully tailored hut it lacks humour. The only laughs occur lti the macabre interview with the reporters outside the death room of the waitress.
Daybreak, the British offering for the week (ODEON, MARBLE ARCH) in its distinguished photography and setting. is curiously reminiscent of the French cinema. Sydney Box, its producer, when I talked to him at the Press show, blamed its somewhat episodic character on the Censor who has sliced chunks out of it-thereby showing a tenderer conscience than when he passed the Blandish film. As it stands now it is a somewhat unconvincing story of a barge-owner (Eric Portman) who is also the public hangman and a dull fellow at that. Returning unexpectedly owing 10 a last minute reprieve he finds a. Danish sailor (Maxwell Reed) making himself at home in the barge cabin, and being entertained by his wife (Ann Todd). A fight on the deck and two suicides follow-hut the whole thing lacks life. Obliteration in this case would have been kinder than mutilation.