OF WARS AND RUMOURS
WAR reforms all whom it
touches ; some are made better through its stresses, others marred or destroyed. The great journeyman and anatomist of war, Mr. Winston Churchill, warned us th,at its ramifications are infinite. None escape. Now we know this to be true.
Miss 'I oni Block, who wrote Flowers For The Living (DuctiEss) is an ex-soldier ; she served in the A.T.S. Conflict on the battle-fields is ended as her play opens, and is entering a new phase in the home of a slum family. After service in the A.T.S., the eldest daughter, a demobilised sergeant, comes home to find her father, unemployed between the wars, " out on strike " for reasons he cannot divine. He is constantly drunk and wants her gratuity to set him up as a street bookmaker, Premature maternity has precipitated her younger sister into a state of matrimony that is not noticeably holy. The youngest sister, likewise, is set upon the primrose path to the cabbages at the bottom of the garden. Her young brother is leader of the local boys' gang and making his way to the Old Bailey. The house is a fetid hovel that would not be considered, by progressive thinkers, tenantable for a panda ; there are thousands like it. As is common, all the pain, bewilderment, vice and anger, bears down upon the mother, the giver of spiritual and material comfort to the brawling mass that is the slum family.
The girl cannot accept her lot. The family resent what they call her airs. She had learned, in the Army, new values; privacy, honesty and cleanliness are necessary to her. She loves music and paintings, likes reading. There is something beyond this new significant life that she seeks. Her home, she finds, She hates, yet she is tied by family loyalty and she is loyal. Miss Block sets the conflict clearly in theatrical terms.
Her solution, while acceptable, lacks universal significance, and thus her play misses greatness. but it is good ; its theme remains great. In the third act there is a most beautiful moment when the girl Lil, trying to explain her aspirations, tells the young soldier to whom she is affianced of her feelings when she saw a painting of Our Lord by Greco. The slum boy replies by telling of his awe when, in the ranks of the liberating army, he stood before St. Peter's in Rome. Mr. Barry Morse captures the inarticulate truth of the lad with modest craft. Suddenly the young people realise that their aspirations are common. God, the boy says, did not make the slum, He made flowers for the living. They cannot escape the slum ; they must unmake it.
Miss Kathleen Harrison gives a performance of compelling beauty as the mother, and Miss Nova Pilbeam, in the extremely difficult part of the girl. is good.
Revenge is the theme of Mr. George Ralli's excellent melodrama, The Purple Fig-Tree (PICCADILLY), which has flashes of understanding of youth's problem in the smaller European countries and much wit. It is exquisitely played by Miss Margaret Rawlings, Mr. Jack Hawkins. Miss Valerie White, aided by a good cast of smaller part actors.
W. J. I. (Film Notes—page 6)