By BEATRICE TILDESLEY
FOUR of the long run houses are just
entering upon new programmes, which will carry over Christmas. The Prince Edward presents a double bill of melodrama and detection, "The Torch Singer" and "Midnight Club." At the Plaza is "Stage Mother," the drama of a footlights career. "Paddy the Next Best Thing," and just the thing for children of all ages, is topping the bill at the State. The Civic, beginning its second Australian season, is showing "The Hayseeds."
* * *
Alice Brady and Maureen O'Sullivan (M.-G.-M.).
BACK-STAGE films are not much of a
novelty by now. But this picture has a strong dramatic story and some excellent characterisation. Alice Brady draws a convincing portrait of a woman bred to the life of "the road" in the U.S.A. She loses her trapeze artist husband just before her child is born. Later, when she realises that her own career is ended, she devotes herself heart and soul to training her daughter to be a star. Maureen O'Sullivan, as a girl reluctant at times to undergo the strict discipline and sacrifice of private life that this entails, acts with charm. It is a pity that her voice is so much less pleasing than her dancing. Franchot Tone is the lover whom the mother's ruthless ambition succeeds in estranging for a time. Phillips Holmes endeavors to represent an English peer. He has worked hard at the speech, but has not mastered the deportment. He does not seem to know about raising his hat.
There is a very effective stage spec- tacle of the chorus dancing with the rainbow as a background for the "Rain- bow Girl," in which Maureen O'Sullivan makes her Broadway hit. (Plaza.)
* * * "THE HAYSEEDS"
Cecil Kellaway, Arthur Clarke, Shirley Dale. (Beaumont Smith).
AUSTRALIAN audiences want Austra-
lan films. There can be no doubt of that. And they are quite right, too! There is a special interest in seeing our own familiar landmarks, and our own people on the screen. We naturally enjoy watching Dad and Mum Hayseed being shown the sights of Sydney. When they try to scramble on to a Pitt St. tram they get our sympathy. All the same, it is unfortunate, for Australian productions, either through shortage of capital, or by reason of lack of time, to fall below the technical standard of the average film from elsewhere. In the present instance the photography of the studio scenes appears to be handicapped by insufficient lighting, and the cutting seems not very expert.
The bucolic humor of Joe and Pansy is well enough of its kind, but it makes the hikers' ballet seem an incongruous
JOHN MOORE and Shirley Dale leading the hiking ballet in "The
importation. Cecil Kellaway, as Dad, shows again how well he can render a
character part of kindly humor. Katie
Towers and Kenneth Brampton also are well in key. Some of the other actors would have benefited by stricter direc-
tion.— (Civic Theatre).
* * *
"PADDY THE NEXT BEST
Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter
GOOD news for Janet Gaynor's fans.
Here she is in fine form, working her well-practiced wiles in a picturesque setting of Ould Oireland. This sort of innocent tomboy part is much more suitable for her than masquerading as
a princess. Not that she gets away with the Irish accent. Her flat, metallic voice is incapable of any other inflec- tions than those of her native land. But the speech of her father (Walter Connolly) and most of the minor char- acters has a satisfactory Irish lilt. This film is sheer sentimentality, of course. Well, sentimentality does no harm now and then, provided it is not indulged in too often, or to the extent reached by the young woman who here sings "Macushla," an excruciating perform- ance. As for those impatient people who may long to give Paddy the wal- loping that her father found himself unable to administer, they should know by now that you can have Janet Gaynor or real life, but not both together. Deep voiced Margaret Lindsay, with her rather wooden face, is an adequate foil to the twinkling and dimpling of her younger sister. Warner Baxter is an agreeable, Daddy-Long-Leggish hero. (Released at the State).
* * *
Clive Brook, George Raft, Helen Vin- son (Paramount).
HERE is an excellent detective thriller.
Clive Brook is the head of a group of well-connected jewel thieves, who run a Night Club as a blind. That, you will say, has been done before. But wait. These people have devised an ingenious scheme by which exactly dressed and made-up doubles, drilled in their mannerisms, impersonate them in the club when they are on business and thus furnish them with an unassailable alibi against the suspicions of Scotland Yard. Baffled, the Chief Commissioner of Police arranges with Raft, a detec- tive from U.S.A., to pose as a crook and join the alliance to get to know their secrets. The film closes on an edifying note of chivalry. Helen Vinson, who has let herself be taken while trying to save Raft, refuses to betray Brook, who has escaped. But to free her from the clutches of the law, Brook, always the gentleman, gives himself up.
Helen Vinson is not completely Eng- lish in her intonations, and there is a very American exclamation at the mo- ment when the lights go out in the ball- room. Otherwise the English atmosphere is very well maintained. How Helen Vinson could have preferred that "tough guy" Raft to the polished, charming Brook must remain a mystery!
* * *
"THE TORCH SINGER"
Claudette Colbert (Paramount).
LUSCIOUS is the word to apply to
Claudette Colbert's beauty. In this film she has achieved a languorous sweetness, heightened by her make-up, which reminds one of Marlene Dietrich. There is a similar suggestion, too, of smouldering fires and mockery. And the effect is reinforced by the pulsating emotional music used throughout. Put bluntly, this is sob-stuff about a poor, betrayed girl, who is forced to surrender her child; then, after she has become the most notorious and expensive cabaret singer in New York, mother love triumphs. The theme, however, is saved from crudity by the star's well- balanced performance, ably assisted by David Manners, as the man who comes back to reclaim her, and by Ricardo Cortex who resigns in his favor.
It is unlikely that the notorious Mimi Benton, who on a sudden whim under- takes to be Aunt Jenny over the wire- less to all the little children of America, would not have been widely recognised. The quality of a voice it is practically impossible to disguise. However, that is picking holes in a story which hardly rests on probabilities. (Prince Edward).
* * *
"THE WORST WOMAN IN
Benita Hume and Adolphe Menjou
AFTER an interval Menjou comes again to the screen as the Man
About Town. He is a millionaire in Paris, and a connoisseur of pretty women frequently elegant apartments and expensive restaurants. For some time he has been linked in an alliance, which does not include marriage, with Benita Hume, an English art student, who has deliberately gone gay and climbed to the top of her chosen pro- fession. These scenes and also the later scenes, when she has returned to Paris, are well done. It is in the middle that the film sags. Discovering a mutual boredom, the millionaire and his pretty lady decide to part, and she flits to America. There, held up by a train smash near a country town in Kansas, she falls in love with the local school- master. Such a thing is not impossible for a woman of her type, but neither Benita Hume's acting, nor the direction, succeeds in making the episode con- vincing. Nor, it must be confessed, is Harvey Stephens, as the schoolmaster, a likely sort of man for the "worst woman in Paris" to go all romantic about.