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NEW FILMS. I

* ? -

"THE EXPLOITS OF THE BMDEN."

The greater part of "The Exploits ot the Emden" has been prepared under the aus- pices of the German Admiralty It includes also n, considerable Bectlon that has been produced in Australia by Mr. Ken Hall. These two aspects of the raider's activities, the one depicting affairs on board the Erndon, the other what went on aboard HMAS Sydney previous to and during the engagement at Cocos Island, Mr Hall has woven together Into a smoothly-flowing and homogoneous narrativo, so that if the dual authorship were not acknowledged in a caption one would have thought the whole to be the work of a single producing authority The fact of Ger- mans and Australians presenting each their own side of the »tory has ensured perfect fairness and impartiality The chivalry and sportsmanship of the Germans are fully recog- nised Just as is the heroism of the mon of the Sydney There is no caricaturing of Captain von Muller and his officers ab sinister melodramatic villains One scene shows the German commander stepping on to the Syd- neys deck and being received with honour by Captain Glossop, who insists on his retain-

ing his Bword

The picture is valuable aB an official record, yet it is by no means cold and colourless Human Interest In the way of humour and of Individual reaction to \arious situations has been skilfully brought In to lighten tho naira tlve, and in the German-produced section there Is even a little sentiment as well The wife of one of the German officers at Tsing Tao is shown leaving Hamburg early in Aug- ust 1914, to join her huBband She travels by the Diplomat, and when her husband conies aboard that vessel In the Indian Ocean to warn passengers that they must lea\e before the Emden sinks it she flies into his arms in a transport ot joy Ks far as the acting goeB it Is rather amateurish in these mo- ments of sentiment and humour, but the ideas behind the situation are sound enough to en- sure indulgence being granted Moreover, the straightforward work of representing the gun crews in action, aud the general routine of ship life has been very capably done The actual engagement between the Sydney and th» En'den is extraordinarily vivid As the shells burst around the raider and messages keep rising to her oaptain that first the Ure control, then the Bteering gear then the hind steering gear, and then the engines themselves have been disabled, one realises the desperate tenacity with which the Germans fought

"SADIE THOMPSON."

Gloria Swanson's latest picture, "Sadie Thompson," is founded on the short story, "Rain," by Somerset Maugham. Playgoers will remember the btage version of the same story which was presented at the Criterion Theatre last year by the American actress, Margaret Lawrence. Naturally, both in play and film, the original dramatic framework has suffered expansion. But in expanding the plot for the screen, Raoul Walsh haB allowed it to become rather diffuse. The great vir- tue of the short story was its terseness. It did not tell in so many words of the reform- er's lapse from his principles; but left this to the understanding of the reader, thereby greatly increasing the starktiess of the inci- dent. Mr. Maugham presented Sadie as a shameless woman first of all, then told of hir conversion; and Anally brought her forth again in her finery, silently Inferring what had happened to make her relapse. The film pre- sents her as a much more palatable charac- ter. She is vulgar, it is true; but with a vulgarity that is on the surface only. Of course, In thus making the story, more sav- oury the adapter has to some extent altered its purport. One's sympathies fall always to the side of Sadie instead of dividing them- selves between her and the retormer. This 1B the more so becaube Miss Swanbon acts the part BO charmingly. Lionel Barrymore plays the part of the reformer, whose reactionary mind is Illustrated in the fact that amid all the tropic heat he persists in wearing black clothes and a tight collar. He makes the most of the penetrating character-analysis supplied by the author. In fact, he seems to overdo it a little; but that Is partly the fault of the slow development of the story. "Sadie Thompson," a United Artists' picture, was screened on Saturday at the Regent

Theatre.

"THE WHEEL OF CHANCE."

Like Richard Bartheliness" last picture, "The Noone," "The Wheel of Chance" has a rather sordid plot, but their sordlâness 1B very different In kind. "The Noose" was füll ol conventional blood-and-thunder, and showed the underworld purely for the sake of the sensationalism to be found there. In "The Wheel of Chance" the sombre background has been used only to intensify the expression of eharnoter. In respect of character-drawing, the picture ia very fine indeed. The figurer in the drama have a breadth and sweep about them that stir the emotions. They are not puppets. They live. As an instance of the downright grimness of some episodes, one may cite Jason Tallnef's discovery that his mother is dead. A little while before he had given her a statuette of Venus de Milo, but she dashed it on the floor, reviling him that he brought her such a gift when what she wanted was a bottle of drink. He turned on her with bitter reproaches, and rushod out of the room. When he returns ho finds her life- less on the couch. His callous behaviour at this point is very hard and very cruel; but it is an aspect of real life as opposed to sen- timentality. The Bcenes of the pogrom in Russia, which open the story, are also ex- tremely strong, and at the same time ex- tremely terrible. For their production, Al- fred Santell deserves high praise. It is a pity that the grim, heroic strength of the play should have been marred near the end by a gush of pseudo-pathos that lacks convic- tion. As for the actual Mose, many people will be diB&HPolnted with it, because It leaves portion of the denouement to the Imagination. "The Wheel of Chance" Is excellently acted by a cast which includes (besides Mr. Barthel- mess, in an extraordinarily clever dual role) Bodil Rosing, Warner Olnnd, Margaret Liv- ingstone, and Lina Basquctte.

"UNDER THE BLACK EAGLE."

"Under the Black Eagle" depicts life In the German Army, and shows the officers and men there, not ss inhuman monsters, but as persons with whom ont can sympathise. They are not personally villainous-they are only the victims of a villainous system. Some en- ter Into the workings of this system whole- heartedly., others do their part grudgingly, loathing and detesting it all. The war scenes are supposed to pass on the Russian front, yet one does not seo a single Russian sol- dier. The Allied forces are never mentioned. But in the years Just after the war, audiences at large would have been stirred to emotional antagonism through the very sight of all these Germans on the soreen. The German military machine had roused such hatred against itself that the detailing of Its ope- rations would have seemed unbearable. The matter of German army discipline is only in- cidental to a story about a semi-human dog. The landscape painter who finds camp life under conscription so abominable is the dog's protector; the officer who typifies In his own person the ruthless cruelty of militarism Is the dog's trainor. Relentlessly thlB offi- cer tortures the poor animal, after it has hurt Its foot, by whipping It to make It leap a high fence; then he turns and bows proud- ly to the plnuditB of the spectators round the arena. Ralph Forbes, Marceline Day, Mare Macdermott, and Bert Roach are the human members of the cast. Flash, the dog, glveB quite a clever interpretation of his own part, He has been wonderfully trained. "Under the Blaok Keele," a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pic- ture, was sctuened on Saturday at the Strand

and Hoyt's Theatres.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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