BRITISH BOYS and the hardier British girls who were brought up on "Clive of India" will get considerable excitement out of the screen version of the hero’s career. The picture doesn't build as “Lives of a Bengal Lancer” did. and the intervals of suspense aren’t as expertly timed. It has its high moments, however, notably the Battle of Plassey with its battling elephants, charging cavalry and human death wails. Half the audience will dutch the edge of its seat during the Battle of Plassey and the other half will probably sit with its eyes tight shut waiting for the orchestra to quiet down; which is the way this reviewer always enjoys the movies’ battle climaxes. The Black Hole of Calcutta episode is also included in the picture, fortunately with tactful brevity.
Ronald Colman as Robert Clive performs dashingly, with plenty of what the professional sports enthusiasts call “form rather too much of it, in fact, for those of us who prefer the ordinary amateur style of human behavior. As long as he is about, however—which is most of tire time—he keeps the picture excitingly on the move.
The Gilded Lily
THIS IS a diverting screen comedy with the alluring Claudette Colbert as an American stenographer who becomes a night-club celebrity overnight, as a result of having her heart broken by an English duke. With her lesson in love’s treachery, three lessons in singing and four in dancing, she goes on the floor for the first time and stages such a scene of wild ineptness that her audience takes her to its heart. This is an extremely exj)ert piece of clowning on Miss Colbert’s part; in fact, if the whole picture had been held to the level of the floor-show scene, “The Gilded Lily ’ would have been one of the season’s brightest comedies.
Eventually the heroine meets up with her duke once more, but is finally disillusioned when he offers her, instead of his dukedom, a quiet week in the country. For she is still a lily, though a pretty heavily gilded one by this time. Miss Colbert is too beautiful for straight comedy, and too talented for routine romance; but “The Gilded Lily” gives her a fair opportunity to make use of all her talents. •
Biography of a Bachelor Girl
A BRIGHT screen transcription of a brilliant stage play, which somehow doesn’t quite come off as well as it should. The trouble seems to be mainly with Ann Harding as the heroine. If you can really see Ann Harding as a blithe worldling who sails about the globe conquering statesmen and dukes, not to mention sea captains and magazine editors, you will enjoy this picture.
For me, in spite of the worldly dialogue, the meek Vergie Winters side of Miss Harding’s personality never seemed far below the surface. Neither Vergie nor, for that matter, Ann seemed quite the girl for these mad, tender, scapegrace adventures. Robert Montgomery is the hero, in a part that fits him where it touches; which is rarely. On the whole, the play is much better than its casting.
The Iron Duke
1 IKE “Clive of India,” “The Iron Duke” J ' follows more closely the outline of history than of fiction. This is probably a very fine thing, but the fact is that history usually puts its big climaxes right in the middle of the scenario and then lapses off into the minor excitements produced by politicians and economists. In “Clive of
India’’ the Battle of Plassey occurs halfway through the picture, after which the 9tory settles down to a description of the bicker-1 ings of civil servants and the House of Lords. In “The Iron Duke” it is the Battle of Waterloo that turned up prematurely in the picture. And the way Waterloo has been played up in history, one felt that when it was over there wasn’t much lett for the contending generals—not to mention the audience—to do but put on their hats and go home. The picture went on quite a long time after Waterloo, however, without a great deal of story to go on.
It is a very handsome production, especially in its Court scenes; and the Duchess ol Richmond’s historic ball on the eve of Waterloo was on a scale that the duchess herself could scarcely have equalled. George Arliss, however, with his familiar blend of elderly gentlemanly oddity and amiability, didn’t seem very fortunately cast as a warrior, especially a warrior on the grand scale of the Duke of Wellington.
The Captain Hates the Sea
IF YOU ARE going to this picture, it would be a good idea to get in at the very start, while the various pairs of passengers are being assigned to their staterooms. Otherwise, even if you are only a few minutes late, the characters will all be in each other’s staterooms and you will never discover what it’s all about; not at any rate till the beginning comes round again. And there’s nothing more annoying than getting the solution of a mystery at the wrong end of the picture.
There are a lot of fine performers in “The Captain Hates the Sea,” including Walter Connolly and Alison Skipworth, but I still feel that perhaps the best thing about the picture is its title.
A SCREEN version of the Jerome Kern musical comedy that ran on Broadway five years ago. Built on the familiar Warner Brothers musical comedy pattern of 1934 and decorous and innocent in the style of 1935, “Sweet Adeline” is a pleasant, unexciting picture, with Irene Dunne, borrowed for the occasion, in the leading rôle. There is a very pretty chorus scene with dozens of beautiful girls in voluminous skirts swinging slowly back and across the screen. (They’re on invisible wires,” the lady behind explained. and I shouldn’t be surprised if she were right.) The Jerome Kern melodies, “Why Was I Born?” and “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” are the picture’s chief attractions.
THE SIGN POST
Lives of a Bengal Lancer.—Military epic of British India, expertly handled. With Franchot Tone and Gary Cooper at the top of their form. For those who like military adventure.
Man of Aran.—Robert Flaherty’s exciting drama of daily life on the islands west of Galway. A beautifully handled film, suitable for movie-goers of all ages.
Imitation of Life.—How pancake flour led to riches and love. A modern success story, interestingly related. With Claudette Colbert.
My Old Dutch.—England during the Cavalcade period, from the point of view of Cockney Bert and Lil. Widely inclusive and a little slow in action, but interesting as a cross section of life and time. , .
The County Chairman.—Will Rogers working his familiar strategies with small town politics and young love. A pleasant picture which the family will probably enjoy.
Romance in Manhattan.—Francis Lederer and Ginger Rogers make love romantically in a picture which you probably won’t remember any farther than the street corner.
The Night Is Young.—Evelyn Laye and Ramon Novarro in a duet of love and parting. Love that ripens slowly and parting that takes a long, long time. For those with plenty of time on iheir hands.
Wings In The Dark.—How a beautiful aviatrix iMyrna Loy> flew from Moscow to New York, and how a gallant airman helped her down from the clouds. Fairly exciting and well told.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.