THE astonishing thing about “Marie Antoinette” is that, though it runs a full two hours and a half and is weighted down with over two million dollars worth of production, it is wonderfully absorbing to watch almost all of the time. Admitting that “Marie Antoinette” might have been even better with more cutting and fewer crystal chandeliers, it’s still worth two hours and a half of anybody’s time. The spectacle, overwhelming as it is, never obliterates the narrative, and the story of the poor, pretty, tragic Queen of France stands out clear and poignant amid all the fantastic costumery and pageantry of the Versailles Court.
Historians may argue—if historians ever go to the movies—that Norma Shearer’s Marie Antoinette is a nobler figure than the actual records indicate, and that Robert Morley has exaggerated the doltish stupidity of Louis XVI. But as characterizations they are constantly absorbing and often heartbreakingly real —especially in the final scenes in the Conciergerie. John Barrymore as Louis XV and Joseph Schildkraut as the Due d’Orleans are shrewdly realized, ruthless figures; and only Tyrone Power as the susceptible Count Fersen seemed out of his depth in the complications and passions of the period. Oddly enough in the life story of so romantic a queen, the love sequences are the only ones that drag.
POUR DAUGHTERS” starts off on a ■*wholesome Louisa M. Alcott note with a family of four affectionate, talented
girls (Priscilla, Lola and Rosemary Lane, plus Gale Page), an amiable father (Claude Rains), and a fussy motherly aunt (May Robson). The girls have all the fun they want at home, with their music and beaux and family jokes. Then a curiously sour note is introduced by the entrance of a grim tight-lipped‘city lad (John Garfield). This sinister young man succeeds not onlyin disrupting the innocent menage but in changing the whole tone of the picture. Young Mr. Garfield is a good deal like a dash of cyanide in a pleasant lemonade, and maybe it was a mistake to introduce him at all. But most movie-goers will agree that his performance is what makes “Four Daughters” worth seeing. With his eventual suicide the mild sunny atmosphere is restored, and the picture ends with the reunited family practicing musical quintets. Light diet with good roughage.
Mother Carey’s Chickens
TF THE movies ever neglected the family trade, they’re making up for it now. “Mother Carey’s Chickens,” from the Kate Douglas Wiggin story, is the latest picture to be added to Hollywood’s family album. It’s been handled here with an affectionate homey ness that should satisfy old-time Wiggin admirers who were upset by the radio debut of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” The period is the SpanishAmerican War, and Mother Carey (Fay Bainter) is a widow who keeps her brood about her by running a refined boardinghouse. The Carey Chickens include Ruby Keeler, Ann Shirley, and a child star, Donny Dunagan, whose precocity will delight, some movie-goers, fret others. The characters are for the most part per-
suasively good, the architecture is authentically bad, the atmosphere throughout remains pleasant, sedate and carefully appropriate to the period. Good Saturday afternoon entertainment for anybody’s brood.
The Crowd Roars
HTHE producers are still busy perfecting Robert Taylor, toughening him up in husky masculine roles; and feminine admirers who liked him just as he was will have to take the rough with the smooth. In “The Crowd Roars’’ he is cast as Tommy McCoy, light heavyweight contender for the championship of the world. Hero Taylor co-operates heartily in the de-sissifying process, and comes out with
his masculine prestige heightened and his beauty unimpaired.
“The Crowd Roars” is fast, vigorous melodrama, the plot centring about the hero's rise from choirboy to ring champion, with offside descriptions of shady practices among fight fixers, bookmakers, and bigtime gamblers. It’s all very expertly and knowingly handled. Maureen O’Sullivan at her prettiest is the girl involved, and Frank Morgan, all at loose ends as usual, is the champion’s bibulous parent. Nonadmirers of Robert Taylor will like the picture. Taylor admirers will continue to like Mr. Taylor. It ought to do well with everybody.
Boy Meets Girl
SOMETHING seems to have happened to “Boy Meets Girl” since it gave up the stage for the screen. It’s still an extremely funny and ingenious comedy, but it doesn’t come off in the movies quite as well as it should. Maybe it’s because the dialogue was taken so fast that half ef it was left behind on the sound track. Or maybe it’s just because some of the fun has gone out of kidding Hollywood. The audience remained calm and even a little sad throughout, even in the big scene where a dazed executive is besieged by a detachment of British Grenadiers (with trumpets), two wild authors, a demented lyricist pounding the piano, three telephones, and an expectant mother. James Cagney, as one of the authors, is irrepressible enough, leaping like a Nijinsky over the tops of chairs, desks and studio executives. But Fat O’Brien, as his fellow sprite, seemed curiously glum and detached. “Bov Meets Girl” has gone off a little since its Broadway days, but it’s still amusing
entertainment for people curious to know how Hollywood gets that way.
Little Tough Guy
HTHE “Dead End’’ boys are as hardbitten as ever in their latest picture, but their plots now are beginning to come, like a boy’s meccano set, with interchangeable parts. Practically all the sequences in “Little Tough Guy” have been used before. The boys all end up in the reform school, and the movie-goer is left feeling it probably won't do them much good, they’ll all be hanging round the street corner in their next film. I’m afraid “Little Tough Guy” won’t do them much good either.
The Sign Post
The Amazing: Dr. Clitterhouse.—Edward G. Robinson as the enterprising medico who went after crime with a stethoscope. The gangster film with a new angle. Exciting entertainment.
The Texans.—Love in the cattle lands. With Joan Bennett, Randolph Scott. Good outdoor spectacle.
The Shopworn Angel.—Wartime romance between an actress and a doughboy. With Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart. Sentimental but easy to take, thanks to charming Margaret Sullavan.
Having Wonderful Time.—Screen version of the Broadway success about camp life in the Catskills. With Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Recommended.
Blockade.—Love and espionage in the Spanish War, together with some stirring peace propaganda. With Madeleine Carroll, Henry Fonda. No adult should miss it.
The Rage of Paris.—The French newcomer, Danielle Darrieux, as the model who wanted to marry a millionaire. It’s an old idea but it’s freshly presented here. With Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Three Comrades.—The Remarque post-War novel finely translated to the screen and beautifully acted by Margaret Sullavan. With Robert Taylor, Robert Young, Franchot Tone. Recommended.
Vivacious Lady.—A night club entertainer marries a botany professor and fights it out with his family. Light amusing comedy, with Ginger Rogers, James Stewart.
Three Blind Mice.—Loretta Young proves that it’s as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one. She marries the poor one iJoel McCrea). Frothy but amusing.
Love Finds Andy Hardy.—Micky Rooney having wonderful time.
Lord JefT.—Freddie Bartholomew in the Bamardo Boys' home and very superior about it. Freddie improves as the picture progresses, and so does the picture.
Little Miss Broadway.—Shirley Temple’s show, which she carries, as usual, singlehanded.
The Adventures of Robin Hood.—The Sherwood Forest legend handsomely turned out in technicolor. With Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. Recommended.
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