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-ANTS IN HIS PANTS."
' Ken G. Hall, of, Cinesound, has a short way with highbrows. He elimi- nates them altogether from his calcula- tions, and concentrates fairly and squarely on the plebs. There is nothing in "Ants in His Pants" that a boy of twelve could fail to appreciate. In fact, the children in Friday's audiences at the Capitol Theatre yelled loudly with enjoyment at the more risible moments
in the story.
Will Mahoney on the stage used to be colossal fun. His revue, "The Laugh Round- up," must have touched an all-time high for mirth at the Tivoli last year. The exuber- ance of the man, his perpétuai variety, his flair for dancing on tables and xylophones, electri- fied the show like a high-voltage charge. But on the screen he provides only meandering entertainment. The same kind of thing hap- pened to the phenomenally popular "Mo" when Mr. Hall took him over. It happened again to George Wallace. Out Cinesound way, they do not seem to make the most of
Lack of discipline and poor scripts have been the trouble in the past. The accepted comic potentates of Mr. Frank Nell's theatrical king- dom have lorded it once again in front of the camera. They have invented or resusci- tated gags that would be a riot if played direct to a responsive audience. But the same material unfurled in a motion picture vaguely suggests amateurs showing off in a charade. For the screen, the effects must be crisper, neater, more laconic, if the more adult among the population are to accord them whole-hearted respect. In other words, the comedian must be kept in his
William Freshman, who comes from the English studios, wrote the screen play for "Ants in His Pants," and directed the picture. But the production remains an average Cine- sound sample. Shirley Ann Richards has still not been photographed from the right angles, and is still allowed to speak in a frigid, plummy way. She has possibilities of a charm- ing screen personality, if some authority would really develop her style. John Fleeting has been similarly neglected as the juvenile lead.
The most invigorating acting in "Ants in His Pants" comes from Evie Hayes. Although her part is of the sketchiest, Miss Hayes speaks and sings it in a manner that makes it mean something. Others who do for their material far more than it deserves, include Jean Hatton (whose light soprano records ex- quisitely for the screen), and Alec Kellaway.
'MR. WONG IN CHINATOWN*
Boris Karloff used to curdle the blood of timid people by representing monster after monster. He was regarded as the successor of the late Lon Chaney, and for that reason the studios took a delight in dressing him up as these more than life-size figures of male- volence. In "Mr. Wong in Chinatown," on the other hand, he is far milder than anyone else in the story. It seems to be a tradition that Oriental sleuths on the screen must display as their main characteristic a benign bland ness. First there was Charlie Chan, as repre- sented by the late Warner Oland. Then Peter Lorre, who had begun by playing parts of magnificent range and intensity, became dramatically immobilised as Mr. Moto. Now Boris Karloff goes about helping the police force with fatherly superiority and calm. One feels rather sorry for Mr. Wong, because he trusts everybody, and thus is always in im- minent danger of being blown up or thrown into the ocean by the criminals. He is a thoroughly nice old gentleman, just the same. As for Grant Withers, who represents the police representative, was there ever such a numskull of a copper? Criminals must surely flourish near him, wherever he goes.
"Mr. Wong In Chinatown" has been beauti- fully produced. The mellow competence of the acting, and the eerie eloquence of the