BASED ON the Jack London story, this picture presents a maximum of action, a modicum of romance, plenty of fine scenery which doesn’t get in the way of the story, a wonder dog, and a new brand of villain. In other words, it’s sound entertainment. I found the villain the most fascinating element in the story. He speaks with a cultured accent, carries a portable bathtub everywhere he goes, wears doublevision lenses with a glint of madness behind them, and enjoys killing people just for the satisfaction of it. When he got killed himself, fortunately, well on toward the end of the story, the interest drops considerably.
Clark Gable and Loretta Young, the last two people in the world you would expect to meet in a Klondike rush, are the principals, and both give spirited performances. It is true that Miss Young’s Max Factor make-up remains supematurally unblemished and her hair perfectly coiffed through all the rough adventures of the trail, including blizzards and near-drownings. Still it isn’t realism but romance and drama one looks for in a story of this kind. And “The Call of the Wild” has plenty of both.
TN “MR. DYNAMITE,” Edmund Lowe, F as a detective playing outside the league, gives a poor imitation of William Powell. The story itself, written by Dashiell Hammett, sounds like a rather weak imitation of Mr. Hammett. It’s about a concert pianist who is killed when a combination of sound vibrations release a set-gun hidden behind the wall panelling—if that’s not giving away too much of the plot. The murderer could have shot him much more handily from the window, but apparently he liked his killings fancy.
It’s the kind of mystery that indicates an awful lot of worried planning on the part of the author; some of the wisecracks, in fact, sound as though they had been thought up by Mr. Hammett beating his head on the table. If you must have mysteries and would rather have them that way than not at all, “Mr. Dynamite” may help to pass an evening.
MONA LESLIE (Jean Harlow) is a Broadway torch singer with, as she confesses, “a bad habit of trying to make people happy.” This bad habit leads her to
marry a millionaire playboy (Franchot Tone), with the result that he shoots himself almost before you can say "dipsomania,” leaving her to explain to the tabloid editors how a certain well-known sportsman (William Powell) happened to be in her room at the time of the shooting.
When her baby is born she returns to Broadway to stage a comeback, and manages to calm the outraged club ladies who have come to wreck her show, by singing a lyric entitled “Hear What My Heart is Saying.” In the end they overlook what the headlines are saying and forgive her, and she decides to make William Powell happy, this time without fatal results. Handicapped by a cheap story and a limited talent for singing and dancing, Jean Harlow still contrives to give a persuasive and reasonably honest performance.
WILL ROGERS is such a good-natured person and has so much in his life anyway that he probably won’t mind Alison Skipworth and Billy Burke taking most of his latest picture away from him. Miss Skipworth’s part especially, that of a stately producer of small-town theatricals, is a setup for that lady’s capacious gifts. Amateur theatricals always make easy comedy, with actors carrying away the scenery with their exits, promoters shouting like crowd noises outside and telephones ringing out of turn. Still it doesn’t detract from the value of “Doubting Thomas” that the laughs are mostly of the more dependable kind.
Mr. Rogers’s admirers may resent that he is away at a sausagemakers’ convention through a large part of the picture, and that the rest of the time he is mostly being pushed about in corners and shushed by cul-
tured ladies. He does have the picture to himself for a few minutes toward the end, while he impersonates a radio crooner in riding breeks and a finger-wave. But the best impersonators of radio crooners are still radio crooners.
Our Little Girl
WHEN IT COMES to straightening out matrimonial troubles, Shirley Temple is a whole Domestic Relations Court in herself. This time it is Joel McCrea and Rosemary Ames who are Shirley's parents. Shirley’s father is a doctor who becomes absorbed in his profession and neglects his beautiful wife. Her mother consoles herself by going horseback riding with the neighbor (Lyle Talbot 1, and in no time at all is consoling herself with the neighbor.
Shirley fixes it all up. sending the neighbor packing, reconciling her parents and making all the grown-ups in the picture look pretty silly. They would have looked pretty silly in any case in such a story, with the adult parts just slapped together anyhow, and everything rushed through to make way for the next Temple picture, and to keep Shirley, who is getting bigger every minute, in front of the camera and her public. Admirers of the First Tot of the Screen will probably forgive this picture for the sake of its star.
Murder on a Honeymoon
MURDER ON A HONEYMOON” ÍS
another mystery picture featuring Hildegarde Withers (Edna May Oliver) and Detective Piper (James Gleason). This time Schoolteacher Withers takes a flying trip to Catalina, and picking up an airplane murder en route, sets to work to line up her suspects. Gallant Detective Piper is soon by her side,
getting in the way of her woman’s intuitiveness.
In spite of Detective Piper. Miss Withers solves her mystery—it’s a gang killing— with, as usual, nothing but her umbrella and a hairpin; the one for protection, the other for investigation. I like Miss Oliver best in her own classroom, where her little pupils get just the same even-handed severity that she uses with major criminals. Still. “Murder on a Honeymoon” is good-enough mystery. and grand comedy.
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