ALTHOUGH it is years since ALTHOUGH Garbo made a film, I can remember vividly many of the productions she appeared in. At random I can recall Pirandello's As You Desire Me, Somerset Maugham's The Palmed Veil, and Queen Christina. But I can't remember Anna Karenina. Obviously, even the great Garbo failed to make anything of Tolstoy's heroine and with the passing of the years, Anna seems to become less and less translatable. She suffers, in the first place. from being lifted out of her natural element, the Russian language, and secondly by being interpreted by actresses whose nationality has nothing in common with the dark introspectiveness of the suffering Slays.
TOO BRAINY The recent radio version put out in serial form by the D.B.C. was so lachrymose that the very air dripped with moisture. Now, we have the precise, competent, decorative and far too brainy Anna of Vivien Leigh in the Korda production at LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE. Where the radio heroine sobbed, she nags and is petulant. The sense of tragedy is not there and, indeed, it is not until that last shot of Anna's dead body, mercifully spared from mutilation and lying dead between the rushing train wheels that the impact of her tragedy comes home. Under the direction of the masterly Julien Duvivier, it is disappointing to see Kieron Moore, who, we know, can give a performance of enormous vitality, so heavy as Count Vronsky. Sir Ralph Richardson as Karenin, acting in strict accordance with the author's conception, has also to be dull, and so there is not enough contrast between the men in Anna's life.
TOO MATERIALISTIC What, then, remains of this muchboosted film ? To me, its great value is the presentation of expansive and expensive Russian family life of the late 19th century. Behind the trio of stars is a well directed company of lesser players whose work flows together, making a convincing pattern. The settings arc memorable, the costumes magnificent and the sense of period brilliantly suggested.
Can it be that the accent on material effects has been too heavy while the spirit of the stcry has suffered ? Or on the whole is Anna best left alone by dramatists, stage, radio or film ?
THE MAD SERVANT Siobhan McKenna, graduate to the films from the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, has a most extraordinary character to portray in her first starring film—Daughter of Durkttess (CeReToN)—a girl who is employed by an Irish priest as servant and who is sent to England as the women of the village fear her had influence on their men-folk. (This struck a very false note, I thought, as few Irish priests would employ such a girl—and certainly not solo!) However, the girl is shipped on to an English farm (which with all its personnel reeks of the studio) an she first entices and then murders three men, with interludes of playing devil music on the village church organ. Only Miss McKenna's ability saves the Ern from being entirely ga-ga.