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'NEW" FILMS H
Pew films have given a better or more stirring picture of what the Soviet peoples are facing to- day than Columbias "Russia
This stirring picture has been made from a number of shorts (imported here by the Friends of the Soviet Union), which Columbia's Sydney office engaged Charles Chauvel to select from, reconstruct, and drama- tise into a narrative of proper se- quences. This was no easy task, but though there are some inevitable weaknesses in continuity, the result achieves the main purpose of illumina- ting with quiet, sympathetic, and well delivered commentary the spirit of Russia in travail, and the Russian nation's bravery and grim resource- fulness. Frequently the audience on Friday night broke into fervent ap- plause as Stalin or his marshals (Timoshenko, Budenny, Voroshilov) appeared briefly on the screen. The awakening of the nation into the dread reality of war has been well dramatised, as has the Soviet's call upon its oil resources and its men and women. The scenes of Russia's scorched-earth policy in operation show the ruthlessness of this last defensive action, and add to the pathos of a film that pays tribute to a most heroic nation. (State Theatre.)
The sentiment in romance parades in gay disguise in Columbia's delight- fully satisfying, even if rather leisurely-paced, marital comedy, "Bed- time Story." Chief characters in this unusual and refreshing treatment of a domestic crisis are played with very deft touches by Fredric March and Loretta Youag.
As the playwright who always manages to have a new drama ready just when his wife (who takes the leading roles in his plays) decides to quit the stage for a life of rural domesticity, Mr. March is ideally cast. Selfish and self-centred as his play- wright is, the actor gives him divert- ing and mercurial qualities that make him irresistible. The playwright's attempts to persuade his wife to play her new role, to stop her divorcing him, and ultimately to separate her from her new husband, furnish laughable and quite convincing situa- tions. All through, the thread of genuine romance never disappears from the brightly-coloured pattern of a most entertaining love story. Loretta Young gives the actress-wife charac- ter, beauty and femininity. Allyn Joslyn is a delight as the banker who woos and almost wins this famous Jane Drake. (State Theatre.)
"WE WERE DANCING"
As an instance of Hollywood's In- genuity in adapting a slight dramatic sketch for the screen so that it takes on the length and development ' of a full-length feature script, Metro Goldwyn-Mayer's "We Were Dancing" Is a good, highly polished example.
Opening with the original situation and dialogue in Noel Coward's first play in his volume, "To-night at 8.30," the narrative soon develops far beyond the attenuated theme of Coward's very meagre story of the couple who fall in love just because they were dancing. It unfolds the glamorous tale of two Continental scions whose sole means of sustenance depend upon their social Rifts as house jruests. The construction of the
story Ts neat and its comedv often invigourating. The dialogue captures something of Mr. Coward's suave sophistication, and even brightens it at times with lines that are racy and less brittle. But the promise of the first half of the film is not. quite fulfilled, and the general vivacity diminishes. Towards the end, how- ever, Marjorie Main, in a divorce court scene, considerably vitalises the production. As the Polish countess and the baton she marries, Norma Shearer and Melvyn Douglas have roles to which they impart an essen- tial superficiality, (St. James Theatre.)
WOMEN'S WAR WORK
A short feature film of immense topical Interest is Metro-Goldwyn Mayer's English release, "Women's Voluntary Services." This magnifi- cently reviews every branch of war work which women are undertaking in Britain.. Despite «41 the publicity, the British women's war work has previously received in films and the Press, the scope of the effort has never been more graphically revealed than in this production. It creates the atmosphere of total warfare with- out indulging in one battle or air- raid scene, but the results of these are made subtly manifest in a hun- dred other ways. The extent to which women in England, in or out of uniform, are assisting is made memor- able and inspiring in this outstanding documentary film. (St. James
"BORN TO DANCE"
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "Born to Dance" chiefly utilises the talent of Hollywood's clever^ juveniles. If the story lacks a mature appeal it still has enough in it to entertain those who, particulaily in these times, will often accept familiar screen fare as worthwhile escapist entertainment if it is well and brightly presented
What "down town" American youngsteis can do in legitimate busi- ness with the aid of paroled gang steis burdened with kind hearts knows no limit Here, Virginia Weidlei's father has been victimised by a shady musical comedy producer who has stolen his music Nothing can be done about it until dancer Ray McDonald and Virginia round up the local talent and decide to produce dad's original ballad themselves
The finale, featuring the well known "Ballad for Americans," sung finely bv Douglas McPhail, Is a spec- tacular futuristic highlight of a pro- duction that has plenty of comedy, some harmony, and a spot of drama. (Cameo and Capitol Theatres )