A NIGHT Marx Brothers at the Opera” back in brings their best the ■ form: which means either that you will sacrifice your lunch money to see them or that you wouldn’t go on a complimentary pass. There are only two ways of feeling about the Marxes: either they make you exhausted with merriment or they just make you exhausted.
As one who has been regularly rolled in the aisle by the Brothers ever since “Coconuts,” I am probably not qualified to rejxirt back to the latter trade. “A Night at the Opera” is all the things that o|xira films haven’t been up to the present time. It’s fast and maniacal, and is built, as far as it can be said to be built at all. on the notion that an opera house is really meant for trapeze work rather than performances of the masterworks of the ages. In fact it’s an opera picture to end opera pictures.
It isn’t all opera, of course. There are scenes in Venice, on shipboard and in a hotel, as well as a mayoral reception for world fliers—all as insane as possible. However, there’s not much use going into the story, as describing a Marx Brothers plot is a little like telling people your dreams—it only bores them without conveying any of the original excitement. You’ll have to see it for yourselves.
YOUNG PEOPLE of 1936 who go to see “Ah, "Wilderness” will learn from it more about the world in which present-day adults grew up than their parents have forgotten. Middle-aged people, the high-school graduates of 1906, will be startled to find themselves back in the world of thirty years ago, exactly as they left it. The research staff of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, none of whom by this showingd3e can be under forty years of age, have worked on the period with loving care, and the result is that not only the detail but the feeling are exactly right. “Ah, Wilderness” makes you feel that you are actually alive in that period, and not as though you were turning over an old snapshot album in which people pose in comic attitudes and funny clothes.
It’s about an emotional high-school lad (Eric Linden) who falls in love, tries to reform society, receives some advice from his kindly father (Lionel Barrymore) on the avoidance of certain of life’s indiscretions, and some instruction in the practice of them from a high-stepping lady from New Haven: and finally how he gets drunk, repents and
reforms. “Ah, Wilderness” is genuine 1906, and well worth seeing even by those who can t remember the period when women wore pads in their pompadours, and watches pinned to the bosoms of their Gibson shirtwaists.
Way Down East
rT"'HIS IS a period picture too, recon-
_ structed with sympathy and care. In this case, however, it is treated as the New Englanders knew how to treat it fifty years ago. There are evidences that the dialogue in the present version has been modernized, but the action remains true to the days when heroines always timed their flights to coincide with the spring break-up on the river, and had to be rescued regularly from icecakes, as modern heroines do from gunmen and snatch racketeers.
Rochelle Hudson and Henry Fonda both give mild and pleasant performances in the chief rôles, Miss Hudson, in particular, behaving very sensibly, even on her icecake. The whole thing is handled without any of the wild upsurgings of drama that probably marked the original.
"DROADWAY HOSTESS” is a routine picture which tells how a Broadway pianist is in love with a Broadway singer (Wini Shaw), who is in love with a Broadway promoter (Lyle Talbot), who is in love with a society girl (Genevieve Tobin). There are no gangsters in the picture, though there is a shooting (non-professional), after which the couples concerned shake down into place, the society girl carrying off Mr. Talbot and the Broadway hostess consoling herself with the second best and with the thought that a singer can always use a good pianist.
There is the usual quantity of handsome clothes, nightclub interiors and throbbing song—all the familiar ingredients—but the
whole thing tends to sink in the middle. There’s nothing particularly wrong with “Broadway Hostess” except that you could have almost as much fun, and certainly learn a lot more about human nature, just sitting in the lobby.
TN PERSON” is about a beautiful movie
star (Ginger Rogers) so mobbed by her public that to quiet her nerves and secure some privacy she turns herself into a fright, with glasses and a wig and a set of detachable front teeth. In spite of these she manages to attract the attention of an ornithologist (George Brent), and to go off with him to his fishing lodge; where, finding things altogether too safe for comfort, she removes the glasses, the wig and the teeth, and dresses herself up in a lovely period frock.
Of course he knows who she really is from way back, but he won’t admit it, and won’t give in for scene after scene; till, being a girl who has to have her way, she finally arranges a shotgun wedding for him. There are a lot of antics before this happens and it’s fairly lively but I still prefer Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire or without George Brent; preferably with Fred Astaire.
She Couldn’t Take It
' I ’HERE’S NOTHING unusual about “She Couldn’t Take It” either, except the rather novel idea of having an ex-gangster (George Raft) appointed guardian of a Park Avenue family. The situation develops when the rich father (Walter Connelly) goes to the penitentiary, largely to escape his loved ones, finding in Sing Sing a home away from home. Dying there, he appoints his cellmate to administer his estate and discipline his family.
They turn out to be a fairly tough propo-
sition, especially the daughter (Joan Bennett); much tougher than the hero, who takes to worrying about his manners and his grammar—things that rarely embarrass ex-bootleggers. Since the heroine in the final scene is shown beating up a gangster with a stick of cordwood, I don’t know why the film is called “She Couldn’t Take It;” except that you can’t send a picture out into the world without a name.
The Sign Post
Rendezvous.—Spies, love and other forms Of excitement in wartime Washington. With William Powell at his smooth and lively best. Recommended.
Three Musketeers.—Lots of swordplay and hard riding, with Walter Abel conscientious and eager as D’Artagnan. But the whole thing doesn’t sweep you off your feet. ’Teen ages and under will enjoy it.
Thanks A Million.—How the United States electorate made Dick Powell States governor because they preferred being crooned to, to being governed. Some good songs and funny comedy, thanks to Fred Allen, Patsy Kelly and Dick Powell himself.
Mister Hobo.—George Arliss, back in the House of Rothschild, but not in good standing with the family. An Arliss comedy for Arliss admirers.
Mary Burns, Fugitive.—All about an innocent working girl (Sylvia Sydney» and her troubles with gunmen and G-men. Fairly exciting.
So Red The Rose.—Civil War romance, of great beauty and charm. With Margaret Sullavan at her best as the Southern heroine. Recommended.
The Last Outpost.—Desert adventures in the Great War. Exciting, but it leans heavily for inspiration on “Beau Geste” and “The Lost Patrol.”
Peter Ibbetson.—Gary Cooper and Ann Harding meet nightly in the dream-world of love and romance. Screen version of the stage romance that used to make our mothers and fathers cry. Recommended, with reservations.
Mutiny On The Bounty.—The finest sea picture ever produced. With Charles Laughton superb as Captain Bligh. Franchot Tone and Clark Gable are also present. Highly recommended.
Three Kids And A Queen.—Sentimental comedy about a rich old lady (May Robson) and a family of poor orphans and how they all made each other happy. A family film.
Barbary Coast.—San Francisco in the bad old days, with Miriam Hopkins running a roulette wheel and Edward Robinson running the town. Miss Hopkins is straightened out in the end by an idealistic poet (Joel McCreai and Mr. Robinson by the Vigilantes. Fair entertainment.
I Found Stella Parish. — Kay Francis as a beautiful actress pursued by blackmail. Not highly recommended.
I Live My Life.—Some bright dialogue and fine clothes, with Joan Crawford in the season’s most impressive fit of temper tantrums. Lively entertainment, but not for children.
The Crusades.—Cecil de Mille on the Middle Ages. Impressive, but rather cluttered with armaments and extras. With Loretta Young A family film.
O’Shaughnessy’s Boy.—Circus story in which Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper separate and are reunited and cry buckets during their ordeal. The family may enjoy it.
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