IT SEEMS that Marie Antoinette had a pair of unusual candlesticks in which she concealed her more personal correspondence. Baroness Orczy used these as material for a novel of international intrigue; and now Metro-GoldwynMayer has adapted the romance for the screen, with William Powell and Luise Rainer as rival spies who employ the candlesticks to convey messages from one European capital to another.
It’s a rather cumbersome and dangerous method (remember how Myrna Loy in “Stamboul Quest” carried her messages in invisible ink on her step-ins?) and naturally the candlesticks get lost and the messages mixed. In the end, of course, messages and destinies are sorted out and everything ends satisfactorily. As Spy Wolensky, William Powell performs with his usual finesse and ease; though Luise Rainer, with her gentleness and charm, hasn’t quite the relentless zeal necessary to a lady operator conveying death warrants. The story is excitingly paced and handsomely produced, and altogether worth seeing.
THE GO-GETTER” is based on a story from the popular Cappy Ricks series, with Charles Winninger as the explosive but kindly Cappy, and George Brent as the young man who gets a job in the lumber business. To test the hero’s fitness for promotion, Cappy sends him out on the Quest of the Blue Vase, a complicated and it seemed to me pretty silly assignment. He’s a cripple, too, just to make things tougher, and the victim of nasty tactics on the part of Skinner, Cappy’s assistant (John Eldredge). In the end, of course, the hero gets the vase, the promotion, and Cappy’s beautiful daughter (Anita Louise). Skinner gets sent to China.
Charles Winninger’s energetic performance as Cappy keeps things moving, and George Brent seems to be mildly in character most of the time; at any rate he never makes the mistake of limping on the wrong leg. John Eldredge seemed to be having difficulties with his part, which consisted chiefly in sitting about, looking mean. Anita Louise just had to look pretty, which was no trouble at all.
King Solomon’s Mines
ADVENTURE seekers will have a ■ wonderful time at “King Solomon’s Mines,” Gaumont British screen version of
the Rider Haggard novel. The story, it will be remembered, dealt with an African trek which ended in the discovery of Solomon’s jewel mines in the crater of a volcano. All the original interest has been retained in the shift from text to film, with none of the major excitements of Africa omitted. There is a desert sandstorm, a whacking Zulu battle, near-death by thirst; and for good measure an eclipse, and a mountain avalanche, with the adventurers trapped between hurtling rock and boiling lava.
The leader (Cedric Hardwicke) retains a cool head in all these emergencies, and so, fortunately, does the director, John Stevenson, who keeps all this extravagant material well under control. Thanks to brilliant handling, superb acting and an authentic background filmed in Zululand, “King Solomon’s Mines” is the sort of thriller which manages to be wildly incredible and perfectly believable at the same time. The cast, an unusually fine one, includes Roland Young, Paul Robeson, John Loder and Anna Lee.
ANOTHER DAWN” ÍS an oid-fash-
■ ioned problem drama, presenting Kay Francis in the usual set of mournful predicaments, the usual outfit of wonderful clothes. She is Julia Ashton, in love with a flier who sailed out one morning over the Irish Sea and never came back. Julia then marries Colonel John Wister (Ian Hunter), assuring him that “every woman who is honest with herself knows that she can only love once.”
She goes with him to a desert outpost where she meets Captain Denny Roark (Errol Flynn), and recognizes at once that every woman who is honest with herself knows that it’s possible to make a mistake. Things intensify rapidly, what with stifled passion, fighting Arabs and raging siroccos. In the end Colonel Wister flies away on a suicide mission, leaving the lovers facing another dawn. There’s nothing very new about Miss Francis’ latest picture except the star’s wardrobe. Even in the middle of an Arabian sandstorm, she’s still the screen’s best-dressed woman.
EASY LIVING” is an innocently naughty little sketch with a preposterous story which is successful because the acting is bright, the pacing is sharp, and the lines are funny. A famous banker (Edward Arnold) in a quarrel with his wife, tosses her kolinsky wrap off the roof.
It alights in the lap of a bus-riding working girl, Mary Smith (Jean Arthur), and when she attempts to return it, the banker makes her a present of it and buys her a hat to correspond. There follows, with the wild logic of the movies, Mary Smith's innocent installation in a fabulous hotel suite, the complete wreckage of a New Yorkautomat, and the collapse and recovery of steel in the stock market.
Bankers are rarely as thriftless, or New York working girls as guileless, or hotel proprietors as witless, or misunderstandings as endless as they are in “Easy Living.” But it’s highly entertaining just the same, in a rough and tumble fashion. If you have a foolish streak in your makeup, you’ll enjoy this picture. If you haven’t, it will probably be good for you.
Speak of the Devil
WHEN ENGLISH thrillers are at their best—that is when they’re directed by Alfred Hitchcock—they’re the most exciting films made anywhere. When they aren’t, they tend to be awkwardly managed, plodding affairs like “Speak of the Devil.” There are two suicides in this picture and an attempted trap-door murder, but there’s practically no suspense.
The hero (Ricardo Cortez) is a visiting American architect with a talent for imitating voices. He uses the talent in this film chiefly for getting other people into trouble. He’s an ingratiating, highminded young man, but not, one couldn’t help feeling, any brighter than he ought to be. Result of the hero’s voice impersonations is that a prominent shipbuilder takes poison and his ward (Sally Eilers) is accused of the murder. To clear her he then imitates the voice of the real villain
(Basil Sydney) in a full confession to Scotland Yard. It all seemed very irregular and not very credible, but it worked out satisfactorily. Only it seemed to take an exceptionally long time.
Tin® Sign P@sê
A Day at the Races.—The Marx Brothers rise to new transports of lunacy. With Allan Jones and Maureen O'Sullivan. Highly recommended.
I Met Him in Paris.—Love and winter sports.
A brightly written, brightly acted comedy, involving Claudette Colbert, Robert Young and Melvyn Douglas. Recommended.
Captains Courageous.—The Kipling story superbly filmed and acted. With Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy. The year’s best film so far.
Under the Red Robe.—Fine costume drama, with Raymond Massey as Cardinal Richelieu, and Conrad Veidt and Annabella as the menaced lovers. Good entertainment.
Call It a Day.—Mildly cheerful comedy about English suburban life. With Olivia de Havilland and an all-star cast. Fair entertainment.
Parnell.—Charles Stewart Parnell as Clark Gable. With Katie O'Shea as Myrna Loy. An elaborate and handsome picture, but not very convincing.
Slave Ship.—Stirring sea melodrama with some big moments of action, some fine
moments of photography and some weak moments of romance. With Warner Baxter and Elizabeth Allen. Good entertainment, on the whole.
The Singing Marine.—Hugh Herbert, a harmonica player and a Chinese quartet singing, "She Be Coming 'Round the Mountain” will brighten this picture for people who don't enjoy Crooner Dick Powell. Powell admirers will enjoy it, too.
Love From a Stranger.—All about a beautiful girl (Ann Harding», who married in haste and repented almost immediately. With Basil Rathbone. People interested in tire psychology of murder will find this film worth while. It's well done. Not for children, however.
Elephant Boy.—The O'Flaherty version of Kipling's "Toomai of the Elephants.” Beautiful photography and the new child actor, Sabu, make this picture distinctly worth seeing. A family film.
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