ANN ROSS October 1 1934


ANN ROSS October 1 1934




CLEOPATRA” hashish visions of history, with all the familiar Oriental splendors beautiful dancing houris, huge

banqueting orgies, etc. While a thoroughgoing spectacle picture, it still follows fairly closely the known tacts of history concerning Egypt's queen. Also, Mr. de Mille has spared nothing in exactitude of detail the chariot wheels, s|X‘ar heads, and even Cleopatra's hairpins being carefully copied from museum collections. At the same time, most of us wouldn't have been inclined to haggle over Egyptian hairpins and Roman water clocks if we could have had more convincingly historical characterizations. Miss C laudette CollxTt's Cleopatra suggested a gtxxi deal more the flirtatious millionairess of “It Happened One Night" than most ¡x-ople's conception of the Serpent of the Nile. The dialogue, to*», was pretty bad a mixture of Shakesjx'are, Shaw, de Mille, and ladies' retiring-room gossip. Still, if you like your pictures magnificent you will enjoy "Cleopatra.” The mountings are splendidly detailed and worth observing. And 1 lenry Wilcoxon, as Marc Antony, is so grand to look at and so magnificently dressed that perhaps it doesn’t matter particularly if he behaves like a big bashful football hero.

TNAMES," the new Warner Brothers musicomedy, owes its title to Mr. Dick Powell’s theme song about how the business of musicomedy is ’’Dames, Beautiful Dames.” There are dozens of them in “Dames,” all arranged in fancy dance patterns and photographed as usual by a camera man apparently hanging upside down from the studio rafters. The story, which sounded a little like an allegory aimed at the

Legion of Decency, is all about a fanatical reformer who began by making war on the show business and ended as its loyal supporter. If you still enjoy screen musicomedies, you may get considerable amusement from “Dames.” There are some ingenious dance numbers, and the dames themselves are very, very beautiful. Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler are the featured players.

The Cat’s Paw

TF YOU LIKE Harold Lloyd best in the days when he used to scramble distractedly about the outside of skyscrapers, you may be a little disappointed in his new picture. After two years retirement, Mr. Lloyd has come back to announce that his days as a human fly are over. Slapstick, gags and wisecracks are over, too. From now on he will depend on a straight characterization and a soundly worked-out story. He means it, too: and after you have resigned yourself and given up the hope of seeing him climb

to the top of the Empire State and drop into a fragile awning half a dozen stories below, you may get some satisfactory entertainment out of “The Cat’s Paw.” Personally, I missed the gag rather. It may not be tasteful but it does help to brighten things up, and there were some long quiet stretches in the middle of the picture when Mr. Lloyd seemed to be carrying his new austerity too far. However, a lot of people enjoyed it hugely, and Mr. Lloyd was right about his story. It is highly ingenious and soundly worked out—all about a missionary’s son who comes back to America after twenty years training in Oriental manners, gets elected mayor by mistake and starts a scholarly blood purge in the City Hall. The dénouement of the story, whether you approve of the new Harold Lloyd or not, should send you away as happy as possible.

Let’s Try Again

rT'HE TROUBLE with “Let’s Try Again” is that it really hasn t a story at all. It is just a long wrangling discussion about married life. It is a picture of two people (Clive Brook, Diana Wynyard) who quarrel and quarrel because they have nothing else in the world to fill their minds— made apparently for people who go to the movies because they have nothing else on earth to do. In the end Miss \\ ynyard and Mr. Brook decide they will try again, and by pretending they really love each other see if they can’t make it come true. Maybe they can, and maybe they can’t; but if they ever do try it again, this reviewer at any rate won’t be there to see.

Straight is the Way

Q I RA1GI11' IS THE WAY” is another slightly off-season picture the story of a young man who gets into trouble with the police and then comes out to set himself right with society and battle gangland single-handed. Franchot Tone is the hero and performs creditably, though his youth and his gentleman-cadet bearing make him seem a little miscast in the rôle of a tough underworldling; especially when confronted by the screen’s most alarming bad man, Jack La Rue. In the end Mr. Tone rolls Public Enemy La Rue off the roof of an apartment house on to a milk truck in the block below and everything ends satisfactorily. “Straight is the Way” isn’t a screen masterpiece, but it goes along at a lively pace, and if things in it don’t happen very believably, they at any rate do happen.

The World Moves On

TF “CAVALCADE,” “The House of Rothschild,” “Berke-

-*■ ley Square,.....I'he World Changes,” and half-a-dozen

war and anti-war pictures hadn’t preceded "The World Moves On,” it might have been one of the season’s most impressive films; except that, in that case, there mightn’t have been a picture at all. As it is, “The World Moves On” derives from so many sources that it has scarcely any character of its own at all. At the same time, it has many fine individual things to recommend it; notably the family scenes in old imperial Germany, Madeleine Carroll’s grave beauty and fine acting intelligence, and especially a dramatic description of the stock market break in New York in 1929. Apart from these, it is a pretty good illustration of the fact that screen epics are bom, not made.


The Scarlet Empress—Historical drama, with Marlene Dietrich, under the direction of Joseph von Sternberg, giving a trance performance as Catherine the Great. Some good photography and scarifying backgrounds. On the whole a family picture.

Jane Eyre—Charlotte Bronte’s novel done over into a movie in a way that would be a great surprise to Miss Bronte. Not recommended to admirers of the book.

Of Human Bondage—The Somerset Maugham novel adequately treated, with Bette Davis giving a brilliant performance as the awful Mildred. With Leslie Howard. Adults.

Stamboul Quest—Another espionage picture, with Miss Myrna Loy negotiating for the Dardanelles. Good entertainment.

The Affairs of Cellini—Murder, intrigue, poisoned goblets and other excitements in the court of the Duke of Florence, with mild Fredric March not very successfully cast as the incorrigible Cellini. Small children won’t enjoy it.

Here Comes the Navy—In and out of the United States Navy with James Cagney. Very informative about navies, but the story is routine. Boys will enjoy it.

The Old-Fashioned Way—Burlesque melodrama, not all of it new. But five minutes of W. C. Fields juggling cigar boxes is worth an hour of anybody’s time. Recommended for the

Handy Andy—A small-time druggist (Will Rogers) breaks loose in high class society. A fairly amusing family picture.

The Thin Man—The season’s best mystery picture. With William Powell and Myrna Loy, very bright and rowdy.

Murder on the Blackboard—The season’s second best mystery story. But a first-rate thriller, at that. Edna May Oliver and James Gleason.

Murder in the Private Car—The season’s worst mystery picture. Charles Ruggles and Una Merkel do what they can to make it funny but the picture has little plot and no solution.

Now I’ll Tell, by Mrs. Arnold Rothstein—Precautionary tale for those who like to take chances with their own and other people’s money. Some interesting glimpses of downtown New York, past and present. With Helen Twelvetrees, Spencer Tracy. Not a children’s picture.

Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back—A familiar and rather preposterous story which Ronald Colman’s lively performance makes fresh and occasionally funny situations. Adolescents will enjoy it.

The Great Flirtation—A Budapest actor and his wife (Adolph Menjou, Elissa Landil and their quarrels off-stage and on. Tending like most family disputes to be dull to listen to.

The Last Gentleman—George Arliss takes a vacation from affairs of state. A mild but amusing excursion into family comedy. A family picture.