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"RANGLE RIVER." I
"Bangle River" te decidedly the best film I
that has been produced In Australia so far. It seems strange that local audiences have had to wait all these years in order to sec the life ot their own country depicted In an even tolerable story. The present nar- rative by Zane Grey has Its peccadilloes; but at least It is Intelligent and intelligible, and has some dramatic shape about It. The general plan being thus flrmly drawn, the activities of Clarence Badger as director; the generally competent and sometimes excellent acting; the brilliant camera work by Errol Hinds and Damlen Parer; and the unfailing skill of Mr. Frank Coffey and Miss Mona Donaldson, who were responsible for cutting and editing, have built up an hour and a half of lively entertainment. Australia need not be ashamed of this film being seen over- seas. It may not possess the spectacular values of a "Cimarrón" or a "Trail of the Lonesome Pine;" but, in its quiet way, It Is full of interest and of picturesque romance. The scenery alone should persuade American producers that this country ofier3 them some- thing new in the way of backgrounds. The luminosity of sunlight streaming across dry grass on the hills round Gloucester provides a series of effects of a really enchanting kind. No American film has presented anything approaching them.
The cast of "Rangle River" Is headed by the well-known Hollywood actor, Victor Jory. His experience of stage and screen enables him to keep the part In a key of complete naturalness. There is not much variety of expression; but what there is Is con- vincing and sincere.
A richer, If less minutely, expert perfor- mance is given by Robert Coote. Since he came from London with Alice Delysla In "Mother of Pearl," Mr. Coote had impressed himself on discriminating playgoers as one of the cleverest young men appearing on the local stage. In "Rangle River" he succeeds admirably in adapting his theatrical methods to the requirements of the camera. In the field of amiably foolish English comedy char- acters, he now assumes a leading place. There Is a freshness about his work In this Aus- tralian film which puts the utmost humour into even unpromising lines and situations. If Hollywood producers, seeing "Rangle River," do not at once put him under contract, they do not know their business.
Margaret Dare, the young Australian lead- ing woman, has considerable visual charm; she moves gracefully; and, in the days of silent films, one would have hailed her as a "discovery." But her voice Is against her. A slight "Australian accent" might have been accepted, but when, in addition to this, she recites, rather than says, her lines, the general effect becomes one of mediocrity. Rita Pauncefort, though still wedded to the tech- nique of the stage, where the imperiousness of the "grande dame" can be hammered home with any amount of exaggeration, succeeds in being genuinely amusing on the screen. Hrr acid exchanges with Mr. Coote, and the moment when the excitement of the station owner striking artesian water converts the character from an icicle to a prancing lunatic, are sure to rouse much laughter in the
The only other Important feminine role Is that of a spying parlourmaid, soundly and capably presented by Georgie Sterling. Re- turning to the masculine element In the cast, one recalls first of all that sturdy veteran of the stage, George Bryant. Not much drama has been allotted to him; but he succeeds finely In portraying a rugged, loyal old in- habitant of the cattle country. It Is a highly Individual character-study. Cecil Perry also deserves honourable mention as the villain for "Rangle River" Is, when analysed Into Its elements, a hearty melodrama. The actor has good looks, in the dashing vil- lainous tradition, and never overdoes the sinister undercurrent in the part. Leo Crack- nell Is an overseer called Barbwire; and Phil Smith makes one or two entertaining appear- ances In a minor role. "Rangle River" has been produced by Columbia Pictures, in co- operation with the National Studios.
"ORPHAN OF THE WILDERNESS." I It was obvious that, sooner or later, some Australian producer would put forth a film revolving round the life of the animals. The American picture, "Sequoia," showed the way. Very little set scenery would be required for a film of this type, and practically all the shots could be exteriors. The Australian bush is rich in curious animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and native bears, which would greatly interest and amuse audiences overseas. Now the confidently awaited film has arrived. It Is entitled "Orphan of the Wilderness." Mr. Ken Hall has directed it, and Cinesound is the producer.
The earlier scenes in "Orphan of the Wild- erness" are extraordinarily beautiful. After a brief, unwleldly sequence which introduces a campfire song and some dull conversation, the camera swings round to disclose a clear- ing in the wild bush. Here a colony of kan- garoos, ranging from babies to huge "old men," is peacefully hopping about and feed- ing. An emu appears. It attacks the kan- garoos, and inflicts some hearty bites on them before they drive it off. A dingo and a toad swell the numbers of the fauna. Then, amid sinister rumblings from the musical score which accompanies all this wordless action, two men are seen with guns. They fire. The biggest kangaroo falls. Its mate struggles away to a distance; but a shot has crippled her. She dies. Her tiny offspring sniffs pathetically at the corpsej lies down beside it for a while; and then sets out on a career of his own. This career is the material of the story which Dorothy Cottrell wrote for the "Cosmopolitan" magazine, and which Mr. Hall
sets forth on the screen.
At first, Chut, the little kangaroo, wanders through the thick timber, and has pretty adventures with snakes, toads, and other In- habitants of the bush. This is the most charming part of the film. The tender, lyrical images flow across the screen, graced by exquisite photography and pleasant music, in a way which recalls the soothing beauty cf the silent screen. Then Chut reaches civili- sation; and that is where the trouble starts. For, whatever appeal Miss Cottrell'a prose may have had in print it makes a poor, show- ing when converted into dramatic dialogue. The pathos of Chut's situation in the hands of a rascally circus proprietor is so harped on in words that it becomes bathos long before the final scenes. The circus man is a sadist of the most revolting type. Not only does he use cruelty on his animals m training them; but he thoroughly enjoys ad- ministering long-drawn punishments. He keeps Chut without water during a long and dusty Journey, while he himself alights and has a drink at every wayside pub. Having arrived at the destination, he ties Chut to a stake, and places a bucket of water just out of the animal's reach. The half-crazed creature contorts itself painfully; stretches at the rope; and almost stands on its head; but to no avail. Brought into the ring (still thirsty) to box with its oppressor, it rends him with its legs, and hops away to the open country, leaving the sadist lying on the ground screaming with pain, and a panic stricken audience making bedlam all around him. ' A hue and cry is raised. Chut must be caught and killed. But the kangaroo has Its supporters. In the course of a spirited speech for the defence, the heroine cries, "You can see the scars on Chut's body; but he can't show you the scars on his heart." So two cavalcades ride forth-one to destroy Chut; the other to rescue him. There is much wild galloping, followed by a two fisted climax, with men going down like nine- pins beneath resounding wallops'.
The acting is quite tolerable. Brian Abbott Is handsome as the hero; and Gwen Munro looks the conventional screen heroine. Harry Abdy does his best with the part of the circus owner, which has obviously been suggested by "tough" Hollywood gangsters; Ethel Saker represents the old mother; Sylvia Krilaway Is a circus performer; Ron Whelan appears as an amorous bully; and Arthur Cornell, who behaves more naturally than anyone else on the screen, Is the circus doorkeeper. "Orphan of the Wilderness" may be seen at present at the Lyceum Theatre.
"WIVES NEVER KNOW."
There is novelty in the idea of a comedy of middle-aged people, enacted without assist- ance from or Interference by the young. Such a comedy is "Wives Never Know," Adolph Menjou plays a sophisticate who spreads the disrupting gospel that a man and woman cannot be happily married unless they act as if they were unhappily married. Charlie Ruggles's subsequent efforts to run a life- time of good behaviour are partly funny and partly not. There Is one glorious passage where he and a temperamental actress go paddling in a country stream at midnight-in evening dress! The film, a Paramount pro- duction, Is at the Prince Edward Theatre.
"I'D GIVE MY LIFE."
Mother love Is the theme of "I'd Give My Life." Like other films of the same type, this one runs the gamut of false emo- tions and is depressing to the point, not of tears, but of yawns. Tom Brown is the youth who faces the electric chair rather than betray his poor old mother, and lovely Prances Drake, the brunette with the inch long eyelashes. Is his crooning sweetheart. Sir Guy Standing Is also in the cast. The Bim is a Paramount production, and is now on view at the Cameo Theatre. -