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PLAYS AND PLAY- ERS.-(1) Nan Grey, Dean na Durbin, and Barbara Read, who play the title roles In "Three Smart Girls." (2) Dick Powell, who shares the lead with Joan Blondell In "Stage Struck." (3) A scene from "Breezing Home," William Gargan and Wendy Barrie. (4) Principals from "Wife
v. Secretary," Jean Har- 'I low, Clark Gable, and Myrna Loy.
Star Names At The
HE box-office possibilities of a motion picture are dependent, in the majority of cases, more on the name of the starring player than on the play itself. There have been exceptions where a film play, with a comparatively unknown Cast ot 'players, has won through to box-office success on sheer merit of production, but exhibitors are more confident of success at the ticket window when they have a big star name to exploit. It must be admitted, however, that pro- ducers take every care to ensure that their big names have stories worthy their talents, but now and again popu- lar artists are cast in stories of very mediocre quality. However, in view of the importance of star names at the box-office, it is interesting to note the biggest money-makers both in America and England. A comprehensive sur- vey by the "Motion Picture Herald," which annually canvasses every motion picture theatre in America and lung land, shows that Shirley Temple headi the list In both.countries, tribute to a remarkable little screen personality, who, it would be fairly safe to assume, would be voted a similar honour by exhibitors in Australia.
The first 10 players voted by Ameri- can exhibitors as the most important names at the box-oiiiCe in 103G were. Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Fred As talre and Ginger Rogers (as a team). Robert Taylor, Joe E. Brown. Dick Powell, Joan Crawford, Claudette Col- bert, Jeanette MacDonald, and Gary
Cooper, in that order. Shirley Temple, at seven and a half years, retained the cherished crown of the money-making star for the second year in succession, and the figures revealed that she had established herself still more last year than the year before in the favour of fllmgoers. Second onlv to the choice o£ Shirley for the second time as leader of them all was the outstanding rise of three players to positions among the first ten-Robert Taylor, Jeanette Mac Donald, and Gary Cooper. Taylor, who appeared in at least five features
fin 1934 and almost double that number
in 1935, was far from a box-office draw in 1935, but for 103G he jumped to fourth rank, "Magnificent Obsession" marking the turning point to popular favour among fllmgoers.
Jeanette MacDonald's singing voice and her beauty had been known to stage and screen alike for a number of years. "The Love Parade" was her introduction to the screen with Ernst Lubitsch as her sponsor. "The Vaga- bond King" was one of six screen ap- pearances in 1930, with a succession in following years. Then in 1935 came "Naughty Marietta," and last year "Rose Marie" and "San Francisco," a triumvirate in which her screen acting coupled with her other attribute« brought her into the top ranking. She was placed 35th in the 1935 lecnrdme Somewhat similar was the rise of Gary Cooper. Many pictures led up to "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" In 1935. and then to "Desire," "Mr. Deeds Goes tri Town," and "The General Died at Dawn" last year, pictures that con- tributed largely to his Important rank- ing at the box-ofllce. t
The late Marie Dressier was the win- ner of the first poll in 1932, and re- peated that triumph in the following year. Will Rogers was the first male star-and the only one to date-to head the ranking list, receiving the largest number of votes in 1931. Then came Shirley Temple in 1935 and again last
The poll of British exhibitors, con- ducted on the same lines as the one in America, saw Shirley Temple at the head of the ranking list as follows: Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire and Gin- ger Rogers, Gracie Fields, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Jessie Matthewa, James Cagney, Wallace Beery, Greta Garbo, and Norma Shearer. Astaire and Rogers held their place In the British poll, while one notices the dis- placement of American favourites by Gracie Fields and Jessie Matthews, the British artists. . '
Separately listing the -10 "biggest money-making stars of British pictures, exhibitors confirmed the rankings of Gracie Fields' and Jessie Matthews by placing them first and second, then fol- lowing Jack Hulbert, George Formby, Robert Donat, Jack Buchanan, Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn.(as a team), Will Hay, George Arliss, and Sydney Howard. Gracie Fields' success is an interesting illustration of the ex- tent to which British production has drawn on reputations already estab- lished in other forms of entertainment. Every one of the first 10 In the British stars poll has a stage record, but where- as it would be true to say, of some of them, says a writer in the "Herald," that a stage reputation has been the passport to real fame through the screen, in tbe case of Miçs Fields her celebrity as a screen star is a contin- uation of a fame which has made her the biggest variety attraction In Eng- land for a number of years past. Miss Fields made her stage debut as a vocal- ist at a British cinema in 1011, later touring in revues, and soon establish- ing herself as a West End star. She made her first film, "Sally in our Alley," at the A.T.P." studios, Eallng.'in 1931.
From the American .poll and the British all-star poll, the "Herald" com
[ piled a graded list of the international
money-makers. Relative pqsitions were established by averaging the two polls, crediting ten points for each mention for first place, nine points for second place, and so on down to one point for tenth place. The result was: Shirley Temple, first; Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, second; Clark Gable, third, Gracie Fields, fourth; Robert Taylor, fifth; Joe E. Brown and Laurel and Hardy, sixth; Dick Powell and Jessie Matthews, seventh; Joan Crawford and James Cagney, eighth; Claudette Col- bert and Wallace Beery, ninth; Jean
I ette MacDonald and Greta Garbo, I tenth; and Gary Cooper and Norma
In the near future, pictures will either have twice as much story as those now being made or be half as long, according to B. P. Schulberg, eminent producer. "Years ago," Mr. Schulberg explains, "everything was presented in complete detail. It the heroine was sad, it was necessary to demonstate her grief with a tearful and protracted close-up. The hero's anger was protracted through close shots of facial grimaces. Nowadays, audiences with keen perception and greater im- aginations are usually two jumps ahead of the plot, and more than Inclined to be bored stiff if presented with a pro-
longed picturisation of the emotional |
condition of the players." As examples
of what he calls "terse technique," Mr. I Schulberg cites "Three Smart Girls,"
"My Man Godfrey," and "After the |
Thin Man." Development along the
lines suggested by Mr. Schulberg sug- gest the way to brighter entertainment. The technique behind the production of "My Man Godfrey" was as refresh- ing as it was effective. Indeed, it was stimulating, and "Observer" is prepar- ed to say that the audiences who en- joyed this film play at Hobart this week were never two jumps ahead of the plot. Rather, in Mts breezy unfolding, were they' two jumps behind, and herein lay the secr.et of its success. There was not one dull moment In the film, thanks to the "terse technique" which weeded out non-essentials and welded the story into a breezy compact screen play.
"Victoria The Great"
Anton Walbrook, brilliant young Viennese actor, has been chosen to play the part of the Trince Consort in the Herbert Wilcox production, "Victoria the Great." Anna Neagle plays the title role. Walbrook, better known to those who have seen his Continental films as Adolf Wohlbruch, was snapped up by Radio Pictures following his suc- cess in "Maskerade" with Paul Wes sely. His contract allows him to make one picture a year independently. Born in Vienna, he came ot one of the greatest stage dynasties in Austria, his family having been connected with the stage continuously for 300 3'ears. Walbrook had appeared in about 200 plays before he went into motion pic- ture work. Ile is a versatile actor, and recently completed the unusual record of playing the title role of "Michael Strogoff" in three different countries and in three different lan- guages. He plays this role in the RKO-Radio film of the same name re- cently released.
United Artists released many of the most successful motion pictures of 1936, and it Is reported that the new season's product will be handled by General Theatres Corporation in Aus- tralia and Tasmania, The line-up for
SHIRLEY TEMPLE, the little star with the big box-office person- ality. In a recent poll of exhibitors throughout Britain and America, Shirley was voted the biggest box-office attraction
the current year will embrace the out- put from 13 leading independent units which release through United Artists, as well as a series of l8 Wait Disney cartoons. Among the product will be that from the Alexander Korda-London Films unit, a leading British company, while Samuel Goldwyn productions aro also included. Goldwyn's pictures in- clude "Come and Get,It" and "Beloved Enemy," listed as two of the most im- portant pictures produced in recent
Warner Bros. Active
Warner Bros, are in the midst of fev erish production activity, and promise some good entertainment ahead. Ed- ward G. Robinson. Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogait, three splendid char- acter actors, together with Mary Maguire, the Australian actress, and Wayne Morris are playing ia "Kid Galahad," a story of the prize ring, while Josephine Hutchinson is again teamed with Paul Muni in "The Story of Emile Zola," In which William Dieterle is directing. These three were associated with that magnificent bio- graphical -study, "The Story of Louis Pasteur," shown In Hobart late last year. Olivia de Havilland is at work on "Call It a Day," and Dick Powell Is teamed with this charming player in "The Singing Marine." Boris Karloff will star in "The Black Widow," and Claude Rains is listed for the starring role in "Sea Poachers," an adventure story of the northern seas. Errol Flynn, following on his success in "The Charge of the Light Bilgade," is starred In Mark Twain's classic, "The Prince and
the Pauper," with Billy and BnWiy Mauch in the title roles. "The G i Getter" is a Cosmopolitan production adapted from Peter B. Kyne's novel, a ti has George Brent and Anita Louise in the stalling roles. Warner Baxter returns to the Warner fold with "Tua Gentleman from Kimberley."
I Short Shots
. Paul Cavanagh has been signed for
the British pioduction, "Three Bad - Men." .?
Anna Lee w ill head the cast of "Non«
stop New Yoi k," forthcoming Gaumont- ' British Dominions film
Irene Dunne is making "High, Wide, and Handsome" for Paramount Ran- dolph Scott plays opposite the star.
I Kay Francis and Errol Flynn play
the leading Toles in "Another Dawn,"
nearing,completion at the First Nation«
Assia Moris, who appeared in several Italian films last year, is starred in "The Man Who Laughed," a Hollywood production.
"Kangaroos," a Broadway stage suc- cess of a few seasons ago, has been bought by RKO-Radlo as a co-starring vehicle for Wheeler and Woolsey.
Paramount lists 20 British produc- tions this year, the majority to be made at Pinewood. Michael Arlen's "Cava- lier of the Streets" will be the first.
"Wings of the Morning," England'« first colour film, is now in Australia, and will shortly be released. Anna- bella and Henry Fonda are the princi-
.Walter Brennan, veteran character actor, after his success in "Come anJ Get It," has been signed for an import- ant role in another Samuel Goldwyn production, "The Woman's Touch,'* starring vehicle tor Miriam Hopkins.
A type of role that won for him In "The Informer" the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award for the most outstanding performance of the year, has been assigned to Victor McLaglen in "This is My Affair," to come from 20th Century-Fox. Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck play the