"IN THE WAKE OF THE BOUNTY."
Mr. Charles Chauvel's film, "In the Wake of the Bounty," contains some exquisite views of the South Seas. Not even in "Moana," "Tabu," and "White Shadows," which are re- garded as setting the world standard in this sphere, will one find more lovely photography, more perfect realisation of the lights and shadows in tropical landscape. The camera- man (Mr. Tasman Higgins) has realised the value of motion as a means of filling out the flatness of screen perspective into a more stereoscopic effect, and the gliding of the camera to and fro across land and water gives a splendid feeling of depth and distance. Since the motive on which the scenic effects are
strung is the mutiny on board the Bounty, and the settlement of the survivors on Pitcairn Island, Tahiti and Pitcairn form the locations. There are pictures of mist floating over ragged mountain peaks; of yachts mirrored in palm- fringed waters; and some remarkable glimpses of heavy seas dashing against a reef. A fore- word to the film says that it does not claim to be a drama. The narrative about the Bounty serves only as a unifying influence, and a means of explaining the origin of the Pitcairn settlement. As a matter of fact, the bursts of dramatic action are distinctly the weakest part of the film. In these scenes, which take place mainly in the ship's foc's'cle and the captain's cabin, the lighting is defective, the make-up indifferent, and the acting of a stilted, artificial order. The only players who carry much conviction are Mr. Mayne Lynton as Captain Bligh, a peppery, obstinate old mar- tinet, very much on the lines of the same personage grown older in Doris Egerton Jones' stage play, "Governor Bligh," and Mr. John Warwick, as one of the ship's company. Productions from abroad have so accustomed audiences to the mobile use of the camera in interior scenes that these of Mr. Chauvel's seem uncomfortably static. However, things might have been much worse. At least, the dialogue is straightforward, and calculated to appeal to intelligent people; which is more than one can say for some other Australian productions which have come to the screen during the last year or two. In arranging spoken comment to accompany the non-dra- matic portions of the film Mr. Chauvel has shown excellent judgment. The diction is always good; but not affected. The voice does not run on and on and on, as though the speaker were taking part in an endurance contest; but allows pauses for reflection at times when the visual action can tell its own story. The descriptive matter itself, apart from the manner of its delivery, is admirable in the clearness of its exposition. The film as a whole, too, has been most carefully and in- geniously planned. The dramatic episode at the end, unlike the earlier attempts at drama, is genuinely moving; and, from a visual point of view, has a dynamic quality which allows it to rank with the finest overseas work. "In the Wake of the Bounty" was screened on Wed- nesday at the Prince Edward Theatre.
"THE MIRACLE MAN."
In the days of the silent films, "The Miracle Man" caught the fancy of the public to an unusual degree. Its story was simple and sincere; and, though sentimental, it had a quality of nobility which set it apart from the ordinary run of sex-and-murder plots. To some extent this is true also of the revised version which Paramount has just placed before the public at the Empire Theatre. The first part of this new film—which, of course, fol- lows the old story, based on George M. Cohan's stage play—is of absorbing interest. The gang of tricksters holds the audience's attention because its activities are introduced in an in- genious way. Little by little the spectator is allowed to penetrate below the surface of things, and to see that what seemed at a casual view to be pathetic or morally edifying little incidents have really been an elaborate system of play-acting and confidence work. Then there enters the figure of "the Patriarch," an old man in a village community who has some small reputation in local circles for the curing of quinsy, catarrh, and other such transient ills. The development of the situation has fine dramatic possibilities. As those people will remember who saw the earlier film, one of the gang of thieves happens to visit the village; and the idea strikes him that the old man's activities might be commercialised on a large scale. He lays his plot in the most ingenious way. It is in the midst of all sorts of cir- cumstantial details, designed to give plausi- bility, that he introduces his sweetheart as the Patriarch's grand-niece, and two other ac- complices as the "cases" the Patriarch is to cure-one suffering from an ostentatious cough,
and the other a dreadfully twisted cripple, who has got himself into this condition by arti- ficially throwing various of his bones out of joint. But the conspirators have unloosed a force much greater than themselves—the force that lies in simple faith and hope. Herein lies the crux of the story. The scene where the healing of the sham sick is followed, to the amazement of the assembled village folk, by the healing of genuinely crippled and paralysed people, is intensely moving. From this point forward, the story declines to a lower plane of interest; and the ending seems rather pointless. Hobart Bosworth plays the part of the Miracle Man; Sylvia Sidney is the spuri-
ous grand-niece; Chester Morris gives consider- able intensity to the leader of the gang; and Ned Sparks fills his part with humour as the lugubrious conspirator with a cough.
The details of the dialogue in "Dangerously Yours" are often clever and amusing; and the director and the actors have gone to great trouble to make the most of them. Unfor- tunately, the general plan of the story is so fatuous that most of these attempts at bril-
liance are utterly brought to naught. In this,
the film follows in the wake of much that Hollywood has produced. Again and again, the picture-goer is entertained by clever lines and by imaginative acting, only to have this reaction neutralised by a plot which would not strain the intelligence of an audience of six-year-old children. From all accounts, the multiplicity of control over stories in the American studios accounts for this phenome- non. After the author and the scenario writer have done their work, and turned out some- thing which may not be a masterpiece, but at least has the virtue of coherence, con- ferences of directors, of publicity experts, and of other miscellaneous interests sit solemnly in conclave, and decide that this situation must be altered; that expunged; and still an- other emphasised on account of its popular appeal. The results can sometimes be seen in a blatant form when a well-known novel or play is adapted for the screen. There can be little artistic progress under such a system. "Dangerously Yours" deals with the exploits of a jewel thief and a lady detective. In "Trouble in Paradise," the representations of robbery were innocuous because they were treated entirely without seriousness and had small relation to everyday life. "Dangerously Yours," however, ploughs through long moral dissertations in which Warner Baxter, as the
thief, declares the points in favour of a life of crime, and the points against it. Since the vast majority of the spectators in the theatres will have no practical interest in these moral issues; but will have made up their minds about the social status of jewel robbers already, the discussion may fall rather flat with the public. There seems something a little unhealthy in thus elevating crime to a dignified, responsible plane. Miriam Jordan plays the part of the lady detective, clad in exceedingly close-fitting gowns; Herbert Mundin achieves some polished comedy as a manservant, Robert Grieg is, as usual, a butler; and Florence Roberts plays an eccentric part well, as a very rich old lady, addicted to the bottle. "Dangerously Yours," a Fox film, was screened on Saturday at the Regent Theatre.
"Hot Saturday" is an interesting film, though based on the lives of a mildly repulsive set of people. An American small town forms the background—the sort of smug, narrow-minded place that Sinclair Lewis has placed on record in "Main Street." Morality there is not an independent, if variable, standard, as in the world at large; but consists simply in doing what one likes, as long as one is not found out. To be gossiped about is the great social lapse. Everything comes down to a matter of adroitness in covering up one's tracks. If talk begins to circulate concerning an indi- vidual, it is to his discredit, because he has been clumsy—has not kept up the requisite show of conventionality in the face of the outside world. Of course, this concentration on appearance, as opposed to reality, is not peculiar to American small towns. But American small towns, of all places in the world, seem to carry it to its furthest limits. The characters in "Hot Saturday" are all superficial. They seem, also, like the person- ages in Norman Lindsay's "Redheap"—another picture of a small town—to be entirely pre- occupied with the question of sex. Nancy Carroll has the part of a bank clerk who is much sought after by men. Her principal admirers are a fellow clerk in the bank—a handsome lad; but a bounder of the first water —a rich young idler, whose intentions are far from honourable; and a dogged creature with much outdoor health, but no imagination what- ever. The heroine's principal claim to admira- tion is the deft, keenly humorous way in which she repulses these admirers when they become too ardent. All her feminine wiles, however, cannot keep up a state of unstable equilibrium for ever; and the episodes of provincial dalliance lead inevitably to a most appalling crash. "Hot Saturday," a Para- mount film, is being screened at the Empire