Luther comes to Town
MARTIN LUTHER Certificate U: Academy Director: Irving Pichel
THE Lutheran Church Productions of America sponsored this story of Martin Luther, and it will surprise no one that the man who Protestantised Germany in the early 16th century has been shown to be without blemish.
Pictorially, histrionically and technically the film is an efficient and artistically sound piece of screencraft. There is discreet use of musical accompaniment, lines are clean, and the camera work unfussy. The carefully chosen cast keep well within the formal framework of the monastic and ecclesiastical setting.
But I advise everyone who intends going to see it to spend a few moments with the C.T.S. pamphlet written by the eminent hisorian and theologian. Fr. J. Brodrick. S.J., who saw the film when it first came to this country.
The film seems to have been hanging about a considerable time before any exhibitor has decided to give it a commercial London showing. Now the Academy has decided to take the plunge.
After paying tribute to the production and acting, which he des cribes as " competent," Fr. Brodrick makes the following important points.
The sequences on the indulgence question are long. inaccurate and tendentious. We are shown Luther climbing the Scala Santa on his knees while an unctuous voice off tells the astronomical
number of years of freedom from Purgatorial flames which his pious efforts will win him.
The film telescopes the early years in most bewildering fashion. We are shown Luther, almost from the start of his monastic life, wrestling desperately with his God, not the Catholic God. but the God of anti-Catholic Nominalist philosophy, and at his first Mass trembling like a man in delirium as he tries to elevate the Chalice. That is an utterly false interpretation of the facts.
Tetzel is depicted as a plausible mountebank who sold to the gullible proletariat documents assuring them that their sins were forgiven them once they had paid the price, without any necessity of confession or contrition.
"1 he German scholar Paulus has proved up to the hilt that Tetzel never did any such thing. . . .
The film, however, is right, Fr. Brodrick says, where it shows Tetzel preaching about the release of a soul in Purgatory immediately money was paid for an indulgence —but this was never approved by the Church and was subsequently condemned outright.
Luther, says Fr. Brodrick, believed wholeheartedly in a personal Devil with whom he wrestled frequently, but " he is much too medieval a Devil to suit modern taste," and so has been left out.
Nor has there been any mention of the Peasants' War. in which Luther heavily allied himself with the (ierman Princes, whom he encouraged to "slaughter the mad dogs of rebels mercilessly."
The producers of the film excuse their omission of this part of the biography in that it would have taken too long.
" But they have found room for much more irrelevant things." Neither has any aspect of Luther's violent anti-Semitism been hinted at.
When the film ends Luther has still 16 years of life left to him— so of course those obscene pamphlets on " The Donkey Pope " and " The Swine Pope " are not men I ioned.
As for poor Pope Leo X. he is shown as nothing but a moneygrabber with a rolling eye.
Niall MacGinnis plays the title role supported by an able cast. including Annette Carrel as the ex-nun who became' Luther's wife.
THE WOMAN FOR JOE Certificate U: Gaumont Director: George More O'Ferrall
AMODERN and most hygienic circus is the setting for the story of a highly intelligent midget (quite beautifully played by Jimmy Karoubi) who falls in love with a big (by his standards) girl (glamorous Diane Cilento) and loses her to the circus owner (George Baker).
After Mr. Karoubi. second acting honours go to Violet Farebrother as the .fat lady.
Some people have found the theme distasteful—and maybe it is.
LADY AND THE TRAMP Certificate U. Studio One Walt Disney Production
HOW Walt Disney's technique has improved over the years ! Now his animals move with more than animal grace. Mostly dogs in this story of a high-born cocker spaniel, a Scotty, a bloodhound who has lost his scent, and a mongrel who wins the " lady's" heart.
The children in the auditorium chortled with joy—but for the adults there is many a bit of kindly satire on human behaviour, not to mention the mournful glee club. a harmony of howls, composed of stray dogs picked up and sent to the dog-pound.
Cat-lovers are not forgotten. Two demoniac Siamese cats make a brief but unforgettable appearance--real villains of the piece.