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    Go Out To A Movie

     

    Hans Christian Andersen

    Intentionally, this is no biography. but an airy, romantic extravaganza that Andersen himself might have written. The great Danish fairy-tale writer here becomes a village cobbler, interpreted lovingly by a subdued Danny Kaye. He’s run out of town because his story-telling lures the children from school; so he goes to the big city—“Wonderful Copenhagen”—where he falls humbly in love with a beautiful ballerina. This is Jeanmaire, a new sort of ballet dancer, more earthy than ethereal. In humorous and tender scenes, she shows off a delectable personality; but it’s her spirited grace in the ballets that earns her special plaudits. Farley Granger’s Byronic good looks suit the role of her husband. With exquisite color and a brilliant Frank Loesser score (“No Two People,” “Anywhere I Wander” and many more), the picture’s full of magic in sight and sound.

    Verdict: Prodigal serving of sheer enchantment



    Moulin Rouge

    This utterly different story of anot her artist does remain close to the facts, following an unhappy life from which sprang immortal paintings. Jose Ferrer assumes an elaborate make-up to play Toulouse-Lautrec, dwarfed by a childhood injury that stopped the growth of his legs. Though Ferrer’s portrayal is meticulous, it’s lacking in heart, and the personal drama proves less absorbing than the surging impressions of Paris in the eighties—the cafes, the streets, the entertainers, drifters and derelicts that Lautrec painted with such affection and pity. In brittle, effective style, Colette Marchand plays the Street girl too warped by the slums to return Lautrec’s love, and Suzanne Flon is quietly charming as the girl who loves him too late. Again, the use of color is the big attraction; greens and mauves often flare up in haggard faces, just as in Lautrec’s pictures.

    Verdict: Vivid story of a painter and his world



    My Cousin Rachel

    In a setting of gloomy cliffs, old houses and slow-motion surf that naturally recalls “Rebecca,” another Daphne du Maurier best-seller unfolds on the screen. But character limitations keep Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton from rivaling the memorable lead performances of the earlier movie. Olivia’s the enigmatic lady who may or may not have poisoned her bridegroom; Richard’s the cousin and foster son of the deceased, veering from suspicion to abject devotion and back again in his attitude toward the lovely widow. Audrey Dalton (like Burton. a newcomer from England) has the minor role of Olivia’s youthful rival; George Dolenz acts the suave Continental as Olivia’s closest friend. The darkly romantic atmosphere is satisfying, but a hero who’s pretty much of a weakling and a heroine whose character is deliberately left undefined are no great assets.

    Verdict: Elegantly mounted mystery with a cheating finish



    The Stooge

    Like “That’s My Boy,” the new Martin-Lewis picture gives the two comics credible characters to portray, rather than just gags to run through. Well, maybe Jerry is a little on the fantastic side from time to time, but he puts the chief accent on pathos. Dean’s practically the villain of the piece, a swellheaded singer-comedian who insists he can become a vaudeville hit on his own. He breaks off with his old partner, then flops completely as a single until Jerry strays in to become his stooge. Actually the mainstay of the act, Jerry is kept in the background. He gets no billing: he serves cheerfully as Dean’s valet backstage; he covers for his partner when Dean shows up drunk. The situation outrages Dean’s wife (Polly Bergen), Jerry’s girlfriend (Marion Marshall) and the partners’ agent (Eddie Mayehoff), all of whom help bring about the happy ending.

    Verdict: Funny and touching vignette of show business



    The Mississippi Gambler

    All the ingredients for high adventure are here: the whistle of the steamboats, the stately turning of the paddle wheels, Tyrone Power (just the gent to wear costumes with an air) flipping cards and flourishing rapiers, Piper Laurie peering from under ruffled parasols. But the plot wanders aimlessly, with sundry characters slipping in and out of the film to no apparent purpose. Ty, it seems, has set about making his fortune as an honest gambler on the riverboats. Money and skill with the sword give him an entree in New Orleans society, but he’s less lucky in love. The aristocratic Piper chooses to marry a banker (Ron Randell), who proves less scrupulous than the gambler. Julia Adams, as a lady in distress whom Ty befriends, looks more assured in a role subordinate to Piper’s, and John McIntire has his moments as Ty’s wily partner, an old professional.

    Verdict: Handsome, fitfully exciting ante-bellum antics



    Never Wave at a Wac

    We‘ve all met the hero who’s an obnoxious type until the Army makes a man of him. Now meet his twin sister. A frivolous, self-centered lady well-known as a Washington hostess, Rosalind Russell joins the WAC only to get to Paris and keep an eye on her officer fiance. She’s happily convinced that her senator father (Charles Dingle) and her big-brass pals will wangle her a commission and a fast plane trip. But she’s been framed. Pop, intent on humanizing her, leaves her to plug along like an average recruit. Laughs are plentiful, though both Roz and the writer make the heroine a caricature instead of a person. Paul Douglas, as her bluff ex-husband, intervenes in her Army career, and Marie Wilson has some bright scenes as a burlesque queen who’s a better soldier than the socialite is.

    Verdict: Rowdy but respectful tribute to the female G. I.



    Forbidden Games

    Best direction: Rene Clement

    The dialogue is French, with English titles, but this overwhelming movie tells its strange story in pictures stronger than any spoken language. Boldly mixing humor with terror, it focuses on a little war orphan, portrayed by Brigitte Fossey in one of the most remarkable performances ever given by a child. She loses her parents when Nazi planes strafe a road jammed with refugees. A peasant family near-by takes her in, and their young son (the winning Georges Poujouly) becomes her special protector. For both children, the little girl in particular, the fact of death has a looming importance; they make a secret game of creating a cemetery for animals, beginning with Brigitte’s puppy, killed in the strafing. There’s a shock element in this, as the two mimic religious ceremonies and steal crosses to put over the graves, but its implications are innocent and heart-rending. The family’s Hatfield-Coy feud with the elan next door and a low-brow Romeo-Juliet affair play a rough obbligato to the main theme, but it’s the children who are unforgettable.

    Verdict: Amazing tragicomedy of war



    Stop, You’re Killing Me

    To fans who remember the hilarious “A Slight Case of Murder,” this new version of the gang farce may seem less sharply outlined than the original. But there are still plenty of laughs in the story of the prohibition-days beer baron who’s trying to be a respectable Citizen after repeal. Broderick Crawford’s a likable roughneck as the poor fellow who must round up enough cash to save his brewery, at the same time coping with four corpses that are cluttering up the house. Claire Trevor gives an expert, good-humored performance as his devoted wife, whose gaudy past keeps showing through her genteel pretensions. But Virginia Gibson, as the couple’s daughter, and Bill Hayes, as the young State trooper she wants to marry, make rather colorless juveniles. Dashes of music are tossed in, notably “You’re My Ever-Lovin’.”

    Verdict: Cheerful spoof on gangsters



    The Little World of Don Camillo

    The popular book has been turned into a movie at once rollicking and inspirational, shot in Italy by a French-Italian troupe. (Again, the dialogue’s French, with English titles.) The long-faced, bucktoothed Fernandel, star of many a good French movie, makes a doughty figure of Don Camillo. This village priest is on the closest of terms with his God, addressing Him frequently and always receiving forthright answers. Don Camillo is engaged in a running combat with the Communist mayor (burly Gino Cervi). Deep inside, the adversaries like and respect each other, but they war bitterly and often even bodily for the allegiance of the townspeople. Maybe this portrait of a red who has a secret streak of devoutness is wishful thinking, or maybe some Italians do translate communism into terms the Soviets would never approve. In any case, there’s no doubt where the movie-makers’ sympathies lie. Once more, a family feud has a pair of young lovers doing a Romeo-Juliet act.

    Verdict: Sunny comedy on a big theme



    The Man Behind the Gun

    Randolph Scott’s association with well-made Westerns has earned him a spot among the top box-office stars, and his latest is up to the Scott Standard. In pre-Civil War days, he’s an Army major who gets into civvies to foil a plot in California. A conspiracy’s afoot to turn the Southern half of the State into a separate country, ruled by the pro-slavery plotters, and it’s Randy’s job to identify, outwit and outshoot the ringleaders. Patrice Wymore’s under wraps as the school-marm heroine, but Lina Romay has a livelier assignment as a dance-hall owner. Even the ladies get into the big-scale brawl that winds up this lavish melodrama. Traditional comedy trimmings are provided by Alan Hale, Jr., and Dick Wesson.

    Verdict: Fancy, fast-moving horse opera



    No Time for Flowers

    This seems to be the month for comedy on un-comic subjects. Now a movie shot in Europe by an American company actually manages to find laughs behind the Iron Curtain, in enslaved Czechoslovakia. In deliberately unbecoming costumes at first, Viveca Lindfors charmingly portrays a staunchly Communist government secretary, horrified to find herself working for a pro-American boss. Played in a debonair manner by handsome Paul Christian, this young man is in fact assigned by the secret police to test Viveca’s loyalty. To corrupt her austere red ideals, he plies her with lipsticks, nylons, pretty clothes and pretty words—and you can imagine what happens to both young reds when love enters the picture. Character roles of freedom-loving Czechs and matter-of-fact secret police are all nicely acted in key with the lightness of the story. The script’s a very clever one, but unfortunately clumsy direction blunts too many of its points and keeps the picture from being outstanding. (Long-time movie fans will compare it unfavorably with the old Garbo-Lubitsch film “Ninotchka.”)

    Verdict: The laugh’s on the Communists



    The Importance of Being Earnest

    This impeccable British version of Oscar Wilde’s famous farce is strictly the canned play, concentrating on the impish lines and steady crackle of epigrams, with no effort to whip up a movie pace. Take it on its own terms, and it’s pleasant entertainment, acted in formal and flourishing style. Michael Redgrave’s the gay blade who’s been leading a double life, posing half the time as his respectable brother Ernest (actually non-existent). When his pal Michael Denison (who juggles the lines a bit more lightly than Redgrave) decides to pose as Ernest, too, in order to further a courtship, the plot gets inordinately mixed up. Edith Evans, as a stately dowager, Margaret Rutherford, as a sentimental governess, Joan Greenwood and Dorothy Tutin, as co-heroines, all get into the spirit of the thing.

    Verdict: Polished nonsense, slow and talky



    The Hoaxters

    Though this vigorous documentary runs only thirty-eight minutes, it’s likely to arouse more interest than many a feature picture. With shrewdly selected and interwoven newsreel clips, it draws a parallel between the barker who sells snake oil on the midway and the totalitarian bosses whose hypocritical promises have led one country after another into slavery. The havoc wrought by fascism, naziism. Japanese militarism and communism is swiftly surveyed. Set against it are all the steps the United States has taken to defend itself and other free countries. Howard Keel, Robert Taylor and other M-G-M players take turns at the narration, but the historical figures and events shown provide the chief drama. While there are no brilliantly imaginative touches, the movie’s structure and camera trickery resemble the efficient technique typical of the best kind of American advertising.

    Verdict: Fact-packed brief for democracy



    Blackbeard the Pirate

    Just one more picture in the current pirate cycle, this adventure tale draws its prime entertainment values from the virile appeal of newcomer Keith Andes, seen earlier in “Clash by Night,” and from the lush charms of Linda Darnell, admirably designed to fill the variety of costumes she’s managed to cram into her shipboard luggage. But Robert Newton, never exactly the reserved type, outdoes himself in the title role; his mugging actually slows down the action, which is on the repetitious side to begin with. Blackbeard, it says here, is carrying on a minor war with Sir Henry Morgan, buccaneer who’s supposedly gone straight. As Morgan’s ward and perhaps girl-friend, Linda makes a model hostage on Blackbeard’s ship. Keith comes aboard in the guise of ship’s doctor, but it’s hard to tell just what he’s up to.

    Verdict: Blood-and-thunder melodrama



    The Redhead from Wyoming

    Fresh touches in casting and characterization give added interest to what is otherwise a routine Western. Maureen O’Hara has a familiar role as the fiery saloon operator who innocently becomes a partner in her lover’s nefarious schemes. But William Bishop, usually the good guy, enjoys a change of pace as the bland-faced politico, planning to advance his ambitions by starting a war between established ranchers and the newcomers who want to move in on the range. Alex Nicol, last seen as a heavy, takes on proper western mannerisms to play the casually heroic sheriff, and Alexander Scourby makes a believable character of the arrogant cattle baron who turns out to be not such a villain after all. Palmer Lee is seen briefly but to good effect as a pal of the sheriff’s.

    Verdict: Pleasant tale of the old West



    Angel Face

    Though Jean Simmons has an intriguing role in this suspense drama, as the deceptive young lady of the title, co-star Robert Mitchum isn’t so lucky. He’s supposed to be a knowledgeable fellow; he’s skeptical about Jean from the start, convinced that she’s bound to commit murder sooner or later; but he’s still around to play the patsy when the violent event comes off—not exactly as planned. Jean is the unfortunate victim of a galloping father fixation. Her novelist dad (Herbert Marshall) is contentedly living on the wealth of his second wife (Barbara O’Neil), whom Jean openly despises. Mona Freeman’s a little awkward as the good girl whose devotion to Bob finally wears out, and attractive Kenneth Tobey has scant opportunity, playing Mona’s consolation prize.

    Verdict: Thriller with a neat twist or two

     

    It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1953

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