WHAT with one thing and another—like going to press two days earlier than usual last week—there is a considerable back-log of films I've been seeing on your behalf, and so this week's column will have to be something in the nature of a clearing house.
I'll start with one that I enjoyed enormously:
AFRICAN LION Certificate U : Studio One Director : James Alger
ANOTHER of the wonderful Walt Disney True to Life series. The setting is the high plateau country of Africa with Kilimanjaro standing sentinel. It took the production team three years to make, using those longdistance lenses plus a lot of diligence, perseverance and patience.
Some people don't like the running comentaries in this series but I think they are good fun—and so do most of the audience.
The lions have got the title role but the whole magnificent array of African wild life are in the supporting cast—wildebeest, hartebeest. zebra. waterbuck, antelope, eland, elephant, giraffe, and the rest, going about their daily chores of eating, and eluding the lions that want to eat them.
One surprise is how hard the lions have to work to get a meal with all that stalking of creatures that so often outwit them in speed and strategy. Which may account for that slightly sulky petulant expresion on the lion's face.
Second surprise—it's mother who goes out looking for the family dinner while father sits at home waiting. This has provided Disney with one of his most brilliant shots—a pride of lionesses gathering for the kill.
THE FEMININE TOUCH Certificate U : Gaumont Director : Pat Jackson
" T'VE had two dates since I got -Ihere—one had halitosis the other had boils." So says a beautiful young trainee nurse who, with a bevy of uncommonly good-looking girls has come to one of the big teaching hospitals to try out her vocation as a healer of the sick. I welcome this film, not because it is particularly good but because for once we are allowed to see what a British studio can do im bringing out the personality of a group of young actresses. All of them, especially Belinda Lee and Delphi Lawrence, show that they have the stuff of effective screen material in them. Director Jackson must be congratulated on that score.
On the other hand, Diana Wynyard's matron seemed to be leaning over backward trying to prove that matrons are all sweetness and light.
MIRACLE IN THE RAIN Certificate U : Warners Director : Ralf Mate
" T'VE looked everywhere for a
book about St. Andrew and there doesn't seem to be such a thing." Eileen Eckhart (an accomplished Broadway actress) as the very worried friend of Jane Wyman, says this as she follows Jane round St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The girl Jane plays has lost her fiance (Van Johnson) in the war and. as his name was Andrew. she keeps coming up to look at the statue—a venerable bearded figure. " I'm so sorry for him all alone here in the dark," she says, and proceeds to light candles for him which a benevolent young priest allows her to have for nothing.
No one can show more mute and at the same time more sublime misery than Miss Wyman but here it is piled on just a hit too thick. Even the " miracle" is pointless as, no sooner is it accomplished, than she dies on the rainwashed steps of the church.
This is, so I am told, the first time that the interior of St. Patrick's has been shown in a film —and very impressive it is.
RACE FOR LIFE Certificate U : Academy Director : Christian Jaque
ONE of the best that France has sent us for a long time. having for its theme the brotherhood of man.
In this case the " brothers " are the men, scattered all over the world who run their own amateur radio stations—" hams" they are called and who talk to each other from one end of the earth to the other.
One such in Togoland picks up a message from a French trawler whose own radio has broken down, and ling by link a chain of communication is forged so that. after lots or action and suspense, some urgently needed serum is flown to the boat in time to save the crew about to die of food poisoning.
The plot doesn't always stand up to dissection. Once the Paris " ham " is located surely the whole of the international machinery would have been recruited in a race to save the lives of the men. But there are no flaws in the treatment or in the acting. Indeed, a film of unusual quality.
But what a pity the ship's black kitten had to die of vivisection. I'm afraid cat lovers won't forgive that particular episode. And was it really necessary ?
On the same programme is a charming study of the late and great Utrillo, his Efe and his work, made not long before he died.