THE LUXURY RUT
Cinema has put a belt about the world. Having done so, it proceeds to pull the belt so tight that you cannot tell one part of the world from the other. There is a terrible sameness about films. The national characteristics are becoming less apparent every day. The continents rub Shoulders on the screen and rub away their personalities.
Cinema is in a rut. It is a luxury rut into which it has toppled out of reality, or perhaps it did not fail, perhaps it made its rut for itself; if you run back and forward on the same track long enough you are bound to make a rut of it in time.
Luxury is the same all the world over. There are only a very few stereotyped ways of spending Meney; in sparing it, or in doing without it, there is infinite variety; there is individuality, there is personality and there is nationality.
Never Leaves Home
The countries of the World have become to cinema a chain of luxury hotels. Hollywood leaps a continent and finds itself at home in New York. It never leaves its home, somewhat restricted in size, hut utterly comprehensive in character, to cross an ocean, there to spread its sameness in London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna.
It is strange that it should be so, because nine-tenths of the great men of moviedom, in their early days, knew life in its grimmest reality. They can still depict the sordid heart-rendingly, they can depict luxury in all its glittering unreality; the dregs and the froth they have made their realm, the substance in between cinema is missing with an increasing and disquieting frequency.
A Visit to Scotland
Even when the movie mogul breaks away from the grind he never gets out of the rut. Four of them recently went to Scotland. As one of them is " on the writing side " we have been told all about it. There was not much time and they went by car and were able to compare the road surface with the Lincoln Highway. They stayed at " Glen Eagles, where all the important golf championships arc played." If they had climbed out of their rut for half-an-hour; if, instead of mixing with their breed in the American bar, they had spent ten real minutes in, say, an Alva " local," they might have learnt how to • spell Gleneagles, somebody would surely have told them why, how and when the " rut " hotel came into existence in the interesting Excess Profit era of our history, and also why no national or international championship of standing has been, or is ever likely to be, played on either of its " rut " courses.
Boastfully has this highly remunerated, widely read, but not very conscientious writer declared that—" in four days we learned more about Scotland than the average Englishman learns in four years." That is true, but it is not enough. They learned more in four days than a resident Scot could learn in a lifetime. Now, maybe, they will go home and make a film about it.
In a rut reality ceases, however far it extends it is always the same. In it you can only repeal and ornament the artificial. You may light it brighter than daylight, but it will not be daylight; you may dress it richer than reality but you will not make it real.
NEW FILMS " The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo"
New Gallery Ronald Colman, debonair and delightful. has never been more debonair or more delightful than he is as a noble Russian refugee taxi-driver in Paris who, with the savings of the staff of the Cafe Russe, played baccarat and broke the bank at Monte Carlo.
How Joan Bennett is introduced is both natural and eventful, hut it will spoil enjoyment of a film that must be seen if we tell you. You love her already, but you will love her still more when you see her, with a rope round her tummy hanging from an alp.
The inevitable question, What does a man do who gets a sudden fortune? is answered in the inevitable way, but it takes Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Paris, a love affair, Monte Carlo again, with a significant and clever bit of cinematic repetition, to show how people helped him answer it.
Then back to Paris where a comedy full of smiles and sudden laughter totters for a moment on the brink of sentiment to turn and finish comedy; a comedy cleverly conceived and well cast wherein Colman, always good. is at his best.
6` The Amateur Gentleman"
London Pavilion The Regency period is known to us in its lined prints and grey etchings; it is stiffened in reproduction, unreal in its manner. The younger Fairbanks is to be congratulated in that he has retained that idea and given us something slightly different and quite new in cinematography. He has brought the Regency prints to life in a pleasing pastoral pageant.
It is an artificial story of the son of a prizefighter father and an aristocratic mother fighting society for his father's life in his mother's environment with his father's weapons.
What it loses in reality it makes up in charm and unforced photographic beauty. Douglas Fairbanks, jun., speaking beautiful English, is somewhat nervous; unnecessarily we assure him. As young Barty he redeems nearly all his early promise. The male casting is admirable, each man living up to his considerable reputatio.n with Gordon Harker, Frank Pettingell and Esme Percy excelling themselves. On the distaff side, except for Irene Browne, who is delightfully definite, anemia is epidemic and, we fear, in Elissa Landi's case, pernicious (something really must be done about her dreadful whisper —leave it to me).
A definite achievement that is rich in promise.