TOM SAWYER," which could easily have been ruined by inept handling, plus the hazards of technicolor and child acting, survives wonderfully in its present version. Norman Taurog directed it; and the Taurog method, a remarkably successful one, seems to be to hand out the material to his youngsters and let them do their own acting.
He has been particularly fortunate in his Tom, played here by Tommy Kelly. Master Kelly makes his screen debut in this picture, and seems as much at home in the Missouri of 1845 as though he were in his native Bronx. Except possibly in the sequences where he is called on to make love to Becky Thatcher (Ann Gillis), Tommy is a natural in the highest sense of the term. If the picture goes ofï a bit in the sentimental passages, it is triumphant in the famous fence-whitewashing scene,
the eavesdropping passages at Tom’s funeral, and the sequence of terrifying panic in the caves.
From the production end the film is exhaustively authentic; as it should be, since it cost David O. Selznick SI,250.000 to give it its tattered homespun quality. Producer Selznick has every reason to be satisfied with the result. And Author Mark Twain, if he were alive, would probably be as pleased as everybody else.
In Old Chicago
TN OLD CHICAGO,” which builds to a A climax of the great Chicago Fire, is the most exciting disaster-film of the year. In fact, Darryl Zanuck’s fire makes Samuel Goldwyn’s "Hurricane” look like the
efforts of a bucket brigade. The storyshrewdly handled, deals with Chicago from pre-Civil War times till its demolition in 1871. In particular, it traces the fortunes of the Irish O'Learys, with Alice Brady as the famous Mother O’Leary whose cow, by kicking over a lantern in a shed, made a place for itself in American history.
With such a spectacle as the Chicago Fire in reserve, Director Henry King might have been tempted to slight the other elements in his picture; but actually story, period, acting and climax are all held triumphantly in balance. The O’Learys (Alice Brady, Don Ameche, Tyrone Power) are a real family. Chicago, with its saloons, politics, sporting characters and brawling life, is a vivid community, a raw and gaudy supershacktown of the last century. And the climax, with its holocaust of flames, stampeding stockyards and terrifying flight to the waterfront, is as heartshaking a spectacle as any movie
audience has ever been called on to face. Serious students of the cinema shouldn’t miss “In Old Chicago.” Neither should ordinary folk who like excitement and spectacle and the fun of running after the fire reels.
Girl of the Golden West
TF THE first one third of “Girl of the Golden West” had been carelessly lopped off in the cutting room, it would have been a much better picture. As it is, the story starts far back in the singing childhood of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald; and it isn’t till the two are grown up. with well-developed voices and personalities, that the picture really swings into action. After that it's a fair
enough Western, with lots of shooting, riding, and looting of Wells-Fargo express boxes.
Jeanette MacDonald here is a beautiful saloon-keeper, and Nelson Eddy is a
handsome California bandit. They meet and love, but their romance is complicated by the sheriff (Walter Pidgeon) who has two passionate ambitions—to marry the heroine and hang the hero. Naturally he isn’t allowed to have his own way about anything. As Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy are probably two of the most handsome and talented people on earth, “Girl of the Golden West’’ has a reasonable amount of appeal. But it suffers more than it should from delayed action and overproduction.
She’s Got Everything
HTHE CHIEF attraction of “She’s Got Everything’’ is the comedy team of Helen Broderick and Victor Moore; though Ann Sothern and Gene Raymond get most of the attention. Ann is a bankrupt debutante and her Aunt Jane (Helen Broderick) and her principal creditor (Victor Moore) decide to arrange a rich marriage for her. So they dangle lier temptingly before a rich coffee king (Gene Raymond). First he thinks she loves him for his own sake and is happy. Then he thinks she really loves him for the sake of his coffee business and is furious. Then when he gets round to thinking she really loves him for himself after all, she is furious.
Ann Sothern, in addition to suffering
all the uncertainties of love, has to wear an outfit that makes her look like Stella Dallas at her dressiest. Helen Broderick and Victor Moore do what they can to save the happiness of the lovers—and also of the audience. The result is just fair entertainment.
Swing Your Lady
TN “Swing Your I.ady” sturdy Louise
Fazenda is presented as a lady blacksmith who is called on to wrestle with an affable human gorilla (Nat Pendleton), no holds barred. She actually does go to the mat with him, but chivalry and sudden love intervene just in time to save what is left of the proprieties.
As you may gather, “Swing Your Lady’’ doesn’t come under the head of polite comedy. It has its moments of ferocious funniness, however, especially in the climax when the hero is matched against a whiskered mountaineer—a sporting event that manages to introduce some sideshow variations on professional wrestling which even professional wrestlers never thought of. A hill-billy choral group presents a dirge, “Dig Me a Grave in Old Missouri,” which doesn’t interfere with the general cheerfulness of the entertainment.
Judge Hardy’s Children
THE HARDYS—Judge Hardy, his •L wife, his son and daughter—are another family group whose domestic adventures, related serially, should prove popular on the screen. Two of Hollywood’s most dependable actors — the veteran Lewis Stone and the juvenile Mickey Rooney carry the weight of performance, with Fay Holden playing the wife and Cecilia Parker the daughter. In “Judge Hardy’s Children” the Hardys leave their hometown for Washington; and life in the Capitol gives Mickey Rooney plenty of opportunity to display his talents as the typical American adolescent. People who look for more excitement on the screen than family life provides may find “Judge Hardy’s Children” a little easygoing and folksy. But the film is good average family fare.
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