MISS MYRNA LOY is the latest recruit of the Secret Intelligence Service, and with "Stamboul Quest" we get further light on the more private doings in the late war. Every good espionage system, it now appears, is built on the check and doublecheck plan. First, there were the ordinary lady spies whose business was to make up to corps commanders and wheedle out of them in their softer moments information about front-line formations, troop movements, etc. Then there were the counter spies (Miss Loy is a counter spy ) whose department was to watc h the spies and sex' that they didn’t sell out to the enemy or fall in love and take to day-dreaming in their country’s need. And finally there was the top spy (Lionel At will in this case) and his business was to watch the spies who were spying on the other spies. So that lady spies, if they were wise, learned to surrender all claim to a private life— a rule Miss Loy followed even to the extent of taking a bath in Mr. A twill’s office while Mr. Atwill, equally official, occupied himself with treating her step-ins with developing solution for code messages from the Western Front.
Ixidy spies must never fall in love. But lady spies invariably do. On her way to the Near East, Miss Loy meets a young American doctor who is presently taking up all the attention she should be devoting to fixing up the Dardanelles. I here are lots ot climaxes and excitements and everything ends satisfactorily. The Turkish background is well mounted and handsomely photographed. Spy addicts and Loy admirers should enjoy "Stamboul Quest.”
Murder in the Private Car
TF YOU saw “Murder in the Private Car” you probably have by this time no more idea than the reviewer what it was all about. There was a missing heiress in it, with her girl friend who wore, 1 remember, a very nice one-piece spectator frock. Then everybody got on a train which had been specially re-routed to run into a travelling circus because no mystery story is complete without an escaped gorilla. Presently the private car, which had been loaded with dynamite, was uncoupled on a steep down-grade: and after that the director abandoned all idea of solving the mystery, whatever it was, and called on all hands to rescue the principal characters. “Murder in the Private Car” is the sort of picture that sends serious mystery fans out to vent their rage on the door attendant. Mary Carlisle is the heroine; and Una Merkel, as the girl friend, supplies incidental hysterics, diaries Ruggles is in it, but can’t do much about things.
Murder on the Blackboard
MURDER on the Blackboard,” on the other hand, assembles its story systematically at the start, lines up its suspects, eliminates them in their order and ties everything up neatly in the final scene. The investigator this time is Miss Mildegarde Withers (Edna May Oliver) who teaches arithmetic in the Third Grade and socializes in tracking down murderers on the teaching staff. Her methods are old-fashioned—she picks locks with a hairpin and carries an umbrella for defense—but her deductive methods are as good as the best. Miss Withers’s field of criminal investigation is limited but it hasn’t been fully exploited yet. VVe can still look forward to pictures showing murder on the Board of Education, murder in the schoolsupply department, maybe murder in the Home and School Club. As Edna May Oliver is as good a comedienne as she is a detective, “Murder on the Blackboard” is both good mystery and good comedy.
TJTANDY ANDY” is an easy-going Will Rogers comedy, L all about a middle-aged family man who has never learned to relax and enjoy himself. He owns an old-fashioned drug store which he adores. His wife, however, jiersuades him to sell it and take a holiday. The holiday leads eventually to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where Andy, who is having a very sad time in the midst of all the revellers, strays into a local drug store. There he meets the proprietor, who just happens to be as sentimental about pharmacy as Andy himself.
Finally off they go, two pharmaceutical bachelors on the loose, with Miss Conchita Montenegro to help things along; and by the time his wife finds him he has relaxed so alarmingly that she is very glad to get him respectably back among his vials and tinctures.
It is all very mild comedy. I haven’t the uneasy feeling about Will Rogers that I have about Mr. Arliss—that he is a sort of teachers’ pet of the Legion of Decency. But I imagine his latest comedy will have the unstinted approval of that organization.
The Old-Fashioned Way
W.C.FIELDS isalso an easy-going comedian, but his funniness is a good deal more unforeseeable and strange than Will Rogers’s. In this picture he is the Great McGonigle, taking his stock company about the country in a performance of P. T. Barnum’s “The Drunkard.” A grand old megalomaniac, he evades sheriffs and board bills with nothing more than a noble enlargement of his dignity. Everything lie does is spacious and plausible and lighted by a sort of benevolent lunacy. There really isn’t anything to “The Old-Fashioned Way” except W. C. Fields. But W. C. Fields could play almost anything from Humpty Dumpty to Hamlet and make it notable.
IF “JANE EYRE” belongs with “Little Women” among the classics of your adolescence, you will find the film version deeply disappointing. Everything that went to make the novel dramatic and exciting—Jane’s high-spirited independence, Mr. Rochester’s magnificent bad manners and the mad Mrs. Rochester’s awful antics at midnight— has been prettily ironed out. Jane (Virginia Bruce) is a beautiful blonde, alternately meek and aggrieved in her part; Mr. Rochester (Colin Clive) is gentlemanly and dull; and Mrs. Rochester is just an innocuous young woman with her hair down.
THE SIGN POST
The Thin Man—A best seller made into a better movie. The season’s most entertaining comedy-mystery. With William Powell and Myrna Loy. Adult entertainment.
Sadie McKee—Joan Crawford proves once more that Back Street is Easy Street for anyone sufficiently noble, persevering and good looking. Not recommended for the young.
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back—An Oriental menace (Warner Olandi makes trouble for Bulldog Drummond (Ronald Colman) and Bulldog makes trouble for everybody, including the police. Most adolescents and quite a few adults will enjoy this picture.
Such Women Are Dangerous—With Warner Baxter. All about a
handsome novelist and the major hazards of the literary life. Children won’t be interested.
Now I’ll Tell, By Mrs. Arnold Rothstein—The widow’s memoirs in movie form. Tabloid but interesting, thanks to Spencer Tracy and to the well-mounted New York background.
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Shots and Angles
Continued from page 22
Change of Heart—With Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor. The screen version of “Manhattan Love Song" by Mrs. Kathleen Norris, whose Manhattan is very different from Mrs. Arnold Rothstein's. “Change of Heart” should delight ’teen-age girls but won’t be of great interest to anyone else.
Twentieth Century — John Barrymore and Carole Lombard in a wild and funny exhibition of stage temperament. One of the season’s best comedies.
The Great Flirtation—More stage temperament. not nearly so well handled. With Adolphe Mcnjou, who is dramatic when he should be funny and Elissa Landi, who is funny when she should be dramatic.
Rlue Danube Nights — Charmingly mounted British-Gaumont picture which romanticizes the creation of the famous Strauss waltz. With Jessie Matthews. A family picture.
The Funny Frinks—The story of Mrs. Frink • Aline McMahon) and her struggles with her awful family. Comic-strip entertainment, frequently very funny. The family should enjoy it.
Where Sinners Meet—With Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook. Some of the characters splutter; some make cool, polite, mysterious jokes, and nothing momentous happens. Fragile comedy which some adults may enjoy.
Operator Li—Not too serious spy melodrama of the Civil War, showing how Miss Marion Davies helped to save the Union. A family picture.
Liittle Man, What Now?—Poignant romance of the Depression era, stressing the tragedies of poverty and young love. With Margaret Sullavan and Douglass Montgomery. Adult entertainment.
Viva Villa—With Wallace Beery. Story of the Mexican Revolution. Sometimes horrifying, sometimes funny, occasionally brutal, but never slow or dull. On the whole, not for gentlefolk.
Men in White—The Pulitzer Prize stage play transferred to the screen; with the chief honors going to Director Boleslavsky, who has made his hospital interiors even more interesting than the story. Recommended for adults.
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