IT KEPT four screen-writers busy adapting Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” for the screen. The result is fair movie entertainment, though not very good Stevenson. Stevenson believed that an adventure story should be kept masculine and hold, and that a pretty face was neither here nor there. In the screen version the pretty face of Miss Arleen Whelan, a new screen beauty, is here, there and everywhere. And while she is nice to look at, she doesn’t contribute much either to the acting or the action.
Fortunately, the rest of the cast is excellent, with Warner Baxter as the Scottish patriot, Alan Breek; Freddie Bartholomew as young David Balfour; and half the most distinguished character actors in Hollywood, complete with Scottish burrs, in supporting roles. The life, romance and landscape of Eighteenth Century Scotland are carefully reproduced and often beautifully photographed. “Kidnapped” is fair historical melodrama, but the original Stevenson parts that survive seem to show that Robert Louis Stevenson could write better for the screen than four Hollywood writers put together.
The First Hundred Years
' I 'HAT familiar problem—a woman’s -L marriage vs. her career gets another thorough workout in “The First Hundred Years.” Mrs. Conway (Virginia Bruce) is a theatrical agent beautiful, wonderfully
well dressed, and a born money-maker. Mr. Conway (Robert Montgomery) designs yachts, which is lots of fun but doesn’t keep him in pocket money. He wants her to move with him to New Bedford, where he can play boat to his heart’s content. She wants to stay in New York, where she can meet interesting people and draw up contracts for them and make piles of money.
When divorce threatens and he insists on alimony, Mrs. Conway is even more outraged at the thought of settling up than she was at the notion of settling down. It all works out happily in the end and another restless screen matron has her problem settled, at least temporarily. Binnie Barnes and Alan Dinehart supply a laugh or two, but on the whole “The First Hundred Years” discusses its problem as thoroughly as though Dorothy Dix had written the scenario.
THREE COMRADES” has much the same setting, period and theme as ‘ The Road Back,” both films being adap-
tations from the work of Erich Maria Remarque. The setting is Germany, the period shortly after the War, the theme the desolation of youth in a world it never made. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the screen version, a beautiful and tender story about three young officers (Robert Taylor, Franchot Jone, Robert Young) all in love with a young girl (Margaret Sullavan) who is dying of tuberculosis. Erick (Robert J'aylor) marries her, and when Gottfried (Robert Young) is killed in a street fight, and the heroine dies, the two remaining comrades are left alone, facing a future darkened by despair and the shadow of approaching Fascism.
‘Three Comrades” is finely written, produced and acted, but is so filled with desolation and the shadow of impoverishment and death, that movie-goers may find it rather bitter fare as entertainment.
Four Men and a Prayer
VWTIEN a British Army officer (C.
' ’ Aubrey Smith) is disgraced, then murdered, his four sons undertake to clear his name and discover his murderer. JJfis, with a couple of unexplained deaths in the opening sequences, gives the film a good start as a mystery thriller. But when the four sons separate and go off in all directions, the story unfortunately follows their example. Complications include the armament ring, international racketeers, a revolution, and Miss Loretta Young. Loretta pursues her particular beau among the four (Richard Greene) over land and
sea, and is constantly turning up in strange l>orts and taking the hoys’ minds off their plans, which are never very clear anyway. There are startling shots of revolution and sudden death, but the story is confused and jumpy.
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