The Black Rose
Release Date: August 8, 1950
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
By Howard Barnes
The appearance of the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra at the Roxy is of far more consequence than the
showing of a sprawling adventure film, "The Black Rose." Adapted form Thomas B. Costain's popular pseudo-historical novel, it takes an audience on an interminable jaunt, from thirteenth-century England to Mongolia, Cathay and China. Tyrone Power plays an
English counterpart of Marco Polo on the journey, picking up such secretes of the fabulous Orient as gunpowder, the compass, the printing pres, silk stocking and a crusader's daughter. Under Henry Hathaway's expansive direction, the picture has a lot of hoop-la pageantry and a minimum, of dramatic continuity.
If you read the book, you may remember that it opened with a couple of embittered Saxons renouncing Britain two hundred years after the Norman conquest and taking service in the arm of a ruthless Mongolian war lord, Bayan of the Hundred Eyes. What slight suspense there is in the motion picture is supplied by Power's defiance of the latter, played to the hilt, and then some, by Orson Welles. Once the Saxon scholar has gone through a tight-rope walking ordeal over sharpened sticks, "The Black Rose" returns to an episodic and disjointed exposition. It is quite appropriate when he inquired plaintively in a Kinsal palace: "What are we doing here?"
* * *
The heroine of the title is portrayed by Cecile Aubry with a studied gamin intensity. she bedevils the handsome Englishman with arch gestures when he is in the greatest peril, drifts down a river alone when he makes his escape from Bayan and the Empress and then turns up miraculously in England after he has been knighted by Edward I. She takes a nonsensical role as it comes pouting prettily and putting on a variety of Oriental costumes. She rarely succeeds in taking the fixed scowl of Power's face as he opposed despotism with chivalry.
* * *
Welles has the best time in the proceedings. He obviously relishes the fat part of Bayan, swaggering across desert backgrounds and plotting the conquest of the world. His attack of the material at hand is certainly more enlivening than that of his colleagues. Jack Hawkins is very British as a bowman who gives his life for a friend and Michael Rennie s rather regal as Edward. Hathaway's staging in England and Morocco has made the most of pomp and circumstance, although it becomes murky when it is faced with the personal Odyssey or the romance. "The Black Rose" covers a lot of territory but it is about as exciting as a travelogue.
September 2, 1950; By B. R. Crisler
With the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos, bringing culture to the Roxy's expansive stage, the adjoining screen of that theatre is rather gamely trying to hold up its end with Twentieth Century-Fox's lavish rendering of Thomas Costain's "The Black Rose." But we fear that this program combination puts the latter somewhat sadly in the shade. We leave the former to this paper's music critic; but, by our reckoning, the picture fails to do.
This is a painful estimation for a reviewer to have to make of a film based on such a popular novel and in such elevated company. It would be gratifying to be able to proclaim that it lives up to both. For certainly Mr. Costain's king-sized novel offered plenty in the way of rich romance to give any prodigal film producer ample drama for a two-hour show.
His story of the thirteenth-century wanderings of a hard-bitten English Saxon lad on the caravan routes to Cathay had color and action to burn. It was loaded with strong and vivid characters; excitement swirled on every page, and when the hero came home from his wanderings you knew that he?d been somewhere.
But, oddly, the motion-picture drama which Talbot Jennings has digested from the book is a woefully unexciting recount of gaudy but static episodes. Somehow or other, Mr. Jennings managed to twist and skirt around virtually every dynamic encounter of any large and lusty consequence in the book.
To be sure, in the physical production and in the costuming of this film, Twentieth Century-Fox has accomplished some magnificence that would turn an emperor's head. Produced in England and Morocco, where castles are real and sands are hot, it has the substantial appearance of exotic romance come true. The castles rise in solid eminence, their great halls gleam with ancient pomp and the deserts over which the caravans travel glisten and smolder in the sun. Pictured in Technicolor of exceptional tonal quality, "The Black Rose" is really something luxurious at which to look.
And yet the dramatic tensions and violent conflicts that one would expect amid such intriguing surroundings are simply not in the film Except for one minor encounter between some Saxon rebels and some Norman guards in the early part of the picture, there's not one ringing fight in the whole show. Walter of Gurnie, the Saxon, goes his expatriate way, meeting a brutal Tartan general, traveling in his caravan to Cathay, verbally fencing with the rascal, sheltering a fugitive concubine and generally flirting with trouble without once meeting it in picture terms. And his one modes opportunity for a romantic showdown with the girl is rather politely interrupted by his ever-present pal and chaperone.
In the role of Walter, Tyrone Power seems to have the desire to swing into uninhibited action, but the script never gives him a chance. Neither does it provide him with the substance of personality whereby he might give the illusion of being a true adventurer. Poor Mr. Power looks just an actor, and when he reaches the court of Cathay and makes the bewildered inquiry, "What am I doing here?" one might reasonable accept that as the ultimate comment on the film.
Being a colorful fellow, Orson Welles makes a valiant attempt to endow the Tartan general with a wild and bizarre quality, but again we only see him performing as a fine conversationalist. Jack Hawkins also strives nobly as the stouthearted Saxon friend who accompanies Walter on his journey and the few small scenes of action are the few small scenes of action are his. He handles them fairly and cleanly. The French actress Cecile Aubrey, looks like somebody's nice kid sister-and acts like same-as the fugitive concubine. If she is a sample of the other, never shown us, no wonder things are dull.
To sum it up quickly and frankly we are afraid that Director Henry Hathaway pictured everything but the pulsing drama of "The Black Rose"-and that's a downright shame.
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An American Guerrilla in the Philipines
Release Date: November 8, 1950
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
November 8, 1950
By Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
A wide variety of locations filmed Technicolor backgrounds are unrolled behind a slim and episodic melodrama
of guerrilla warfare in
"American Guerrilla in the Philippines." Based on Ira Woldert's book, the Astor's new film casts Tyrone Power as an American Navy officer stranded after the wreck of Bataan and leading a little band in feats of espionage until MacArthur's return. Slowing down for a love story and covering so much time and activity that it clouds over some of its best material, the picture looks almost as though it had been shot off the cuff and assembled in the cutting room. Much of it is a sincere attempt to celebrate a brave exploit of world War II, but on the whole it has more the flavor of audience bait than of semi-documentary.
The film record technique is used here and there, with Power's voice on the sound track explaining the several activities of the natives and their friends in the midst of Japanese occupation. His portrayal of a Navy officer turned guerrilla organizer and radioman is a typical Power job, and the film gives him several occasions to make love to Micheline Prelle as a planter's wife who labors for the cause of freedom. the fact that Power, in a scene with some Army men in a little outrigger canoe, tells his crew to "hoist the sheet" is merely the most glaring example of a general falseness that its spread over this maximum effort in picture-making. The characters of the vicious, sing-songy Japs, kindly natives and wise-cracking Americans are, like the incidents, a little too pat for realism.
* * *
Covering all the years of the war, the film touches on such varied activities as a refugee march, a shipwreck and long swim to shore, organizational matter, jungle warfare and numerous raids, torturings and executions. Almost all of these are presented by director Fritz Lang in symbol form, such as the shot of a boat representing a trip between islands. The symbols are all right as far as they go, but the film is never allowed to concentrate upon and delve into any single pattern of warfare. the result is a sort of Philippine scenic kaleidoscope, poorly organized and slowing down only for such movie conventions as a love scene, a machine-gun fight with a Jap patrol or a dialogue sequence about soldiery and patriotism.
* * *
The cast of this large undertaking is relatively small, except for the shots of natives singly and in multitudes. Tom Ewell plays the seaman who accompanies the officer in all his adventures, in the conventional character of a sarcastic watcher of events. Tommy Cook is the young
Filipino who represents his country in this script, and Robert Barat has a brief but victorious bit as the general who made good on the pledge, "I will return." There is a lot to look at in the film, and some excitement derived from the conditioned reflex which takes place when a picture of an actor playing a Japanese soldier is flashed upon the screen. Otherwise, "American Guerrilla in the Philippines" is dressed more for the parade ground than for the battle line.
November 8, 1950; Herb.
Now that that Americans are again battling in another Far Eastern land where the nature of warfare is erratic in the face of a grim, deceptive foe, the ere is fitful contemporary graphicness about the Technicolored picture which Twentieth-Century-Fox, has made from Ira Wolfert's World War II adventure story, "American Guerilla in the Philippines."
The many scenes, actually photographed in the islands, of tattered hordes of fleeing refugees, strung across strange and rugged landscapes; of marauding Oriental troops; of bearded, unkempt American fighters inhabiting alien hovels in alien lands and dauntlessly improvising devices and designs as they go-all have a timely appearance in this film which opened at the Astor yesterday.
Also the magical aura of General Douglas MacArthur's name and fame which essentially enwraps this story of the painful years before his promised "return"-and then the triumphal emergence at he pictures' end of the General himself, cleverly impersonated by Robert Barrat, with braided cap, dark glasses and all-impart a peculiar sense of the president to this supposedly historical film.
But aside from these vagrant illusions, which are the consequence of coincidence, there is meager authority of credibility in American Guerrilla in the Philippines. Indeed, the whole picture has been brought off in such a perfunctory and artificial way that it seems more a misfired fiction than a semidocumentary report.
To be sure, truth was strange and fantastic in the saga which Mr. Worlfert wrote of the guerrilla activities and experiences of a stranded survivor of the famous Motor Torpedo Sqadron 3. But it is hard to believe that these experiences were quite as romantically hackneyed and pat as they are made to appear in this picture or that the participants in them were so dull.
It is possible to make some allowance for the stiff and self-conscious acting style of most of the Filipinos who appear in this onerously made film. Fritz Lang, the conscientious director, apparently had the dickens of a job getting his natives not to freeze before the camera, let alone not to stare it in the eye. But there certainly is no accounting for the mechanistic nature of the script for the lapses in continuity or for the lameness of the professionals in the cast.
Lamar Trotti turned in a continuity which is a string of disjointed episodes of romantic and military clashes-that accumulate no drama at all. And Tyrone Power as the chief protagonist plays them with a solemn, lackluster attitude that suggests he was painful conscious of their basic emptiness. Most empty and personally embarrassing are the supposedly poignant scenes between this gallant American guerrilla and the French wife (and subsequent widow) of a planter, whom Micheline Prelle plays. These are ridiculously specious and Miss Prelle only compounds the fault by waving her glamour like a true star in the midst of the most upsetting scenes.
Tom Ewell plays a naval companion of the guerrilla hero with obvious consciousness that he, as a guy form Pocatello, is the standard comic relief, and Tommy cook, Juan Torena and Miguel Anzures play assorted Filiponos in stolid style.
The major surprise of the picture is the speed with which General MacArthur eventually arrives, before the smoke of a bloody skirmish has fairly blown off, and rides triumphantly through a village in a jeep. It looks almost as though the general had been kept waiting all the times for a cue, depending upon when Mr. Trotti decided he had written enough.
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November 8, 1950; Brog.
20th-Fox has made an interesting, if somewhat long, film version of Ira Wolfert's American Guerrilla in the Philippines. A story of World War II in the Pacific, from the spring of 1942 up to General MacArthur's return to the islands it has been neatly staged to hold the attention of the average ticket buyer and grosses should be satisfactory.
Producer-writer Lamar Trotti has wisely made no attempt to follow faithfully the Wolfert account incident by incident. Script is expert motion picture writing, shaping its drama more by suggestion than factually from the vast detail in the Wolfert story and shifting incidents to fit script requirements. Results may bear little resemblance to the original novel but certainly make for better screen entertainment.
The Philippine locales supply a lush tropical dressing for the use of Technicolor to brighten the heroics of a small band of Americans and natives who fight the U.S. cause against the invading Japs. Tyrone Power is the ensign around whom the plot swings. He and Tom Ewell, sailor, escape into the jungle after the sinking of their P-T boat. When several attempts to sail to Australia to rejoin the MacArthur forces fail, they join the natives to fight the jungles against the Japs. Incredible adventures befall them as the script dresses up fact with fiction to sharpen the dramatic impact of what the real World War II guerrillas actually went through.
Footage has some good, male humor mixed in with the derrin-do, and Fritz Lang?s direction develops a strong sense of expectancy and suspense in the story-telling. Romantic phase of the script differs completely from the novel, but again, makes good motion picture sense. Adding appeal to this phase is Micheline Prelle, French girl married to a Philippine planter, Juan Torena. When latter, a staunch guerrilla supporter, is killed way is paved for Power and Miss Prelle already attracted to each other, to consummate that attraction.
The performances are good, right down the line, both among the credited and uncredited players. The two stars are entirely satisfactory, and Ewell accounts for most of the humor that punctuates the melodrama. Tommy Cook shows up very well as a heroic native, as does Torena. Robert Barrat does a nigh-perfect impersonation of the returning MacArthur.
One of the charming moments is a native dance, during which a couple rhythmically step in and out between two huge bamboo poles being struck together by the time-beaters. It furnishes a nice leavening touch, and there are other good musical points in the unobtrusive score by Cyril Mockridge, plus a simple French Christmas tune sung by Miss Prelle.
Lang's directorial pace moves the story along without lags and quickening interest in the numerous clashes of arms between guerrillas and Japs. Photography is very god, the cameras being used by Harry Jackson to catch the tropical beauties for eye interest and also to belt over the action sequences.
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Release Date: March 6, 1951
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
March 26, 1951
By Joe Pihodna
A compact Western with most of the action centered in the small area of a relay station on the overland mail makes a fine holiday entertainment at the Rivoli Theater. Except for a few long shots showing the overland coach making its way from St. Louis to San Francisco, there is no horse chasing in "Rawhide." Dudley Nichols has written a well knit scenario in which character development replaces gunplay to a great extent. Such Westerns are rare enough and should be treasured as steps in the right direction.
The story is simple. Four tough and thoroughly unsympathetic outlaws break jail and take over the lonely outpost. They lie in wait for a coach carrying a consignment of gold, holding two innocent people and a baby as hostages. What happens while the desperadoes are sweating out the arrival of the coach is the important part of the story.
The four characters are effectively typed. Cruelty, lust, stupidity and stolidity are plainly shown in their actions and faces. Jack Elam as Tevis gives a convincing portrait of a trigger-happy, lecherous bandit. Dean Jagger plays the coward with quiet efficiency as opposed to the blustering and whimsical chief played by Hugh Marlow.
Of course, Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward are essential to the plot. They are the victims who finally rise up and do in the predators. The unfortunate thing is that neither player is wholly up to the mark set by director Henry Hathaway. Their supposedly terror-stricken actions are most of the time less than convincing.
For all its morbidity, "Rawhide" is an entertaining and intelligent motion picture.
March 7, 1951; Whit.
Maximum suspense for a western is generated in this Tyrone Power-Susan Hayward co-starrer which offers potent promise of satisfactory grosses. Dudley Nichols' original screenplay packs a powerful dramatic wallop which direction by Henry Hathaway was quick to realize, and general air of impending climax keeps spectator fully engrossed. Despite a strongly-told story, however, picture isn't; the proper vehicle for Power, who is wasted in part and comes off second best to number of other players.
Situation which motivates action isn't new, but in present background is rounded into a thoroughly intriguing off-the-beaten-path western. Power and Miss Hayward are held prisoners at a stagecoach station in the early west by Hugh Marlow, an escaped murderer from a prison in the territory, and his three companions, who are waiting to rob the eastbound stage next day which carries $100,000 in gold. Power is employed at station, and Miss Hayward is there with her infant niece only until she can catch the next stage east, but outlaw thinks they're married and threatens their lives if they don't obey him. Fast wind-up lends a suitable climax.
Acting honors are about evenly divided between femme star and Marlowe, both in hardboiled parts. Miss Hayward injects authority into her interpretation of a disillusioned entertainer taking her dead sister
s daughter back to child's grandparents, and Marlow is particularly strong as the murderer, who makes Power go about his regular duties as westbound stage stops for meals. Jack Elam, too, fares particularly favorably as woman-hungry escaped con, member of Marlowe's pack, and Edgar Buchanan, Dean Jagger and George Tobias likewise are effective. Power is never permitted a chance as a hero.
Produciton values have been well essayed by Samuel G. Engle, and Milton Krasner's fluid camera catches the spirit of the piece. Technical credits universally are excellent, Sol Kaplan's music score contributing to dramatic buildup and Robert Simpson?s editing lending briskness to the pace.
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March 26, 1951; By
Back in the days of the stagecoach, the run form San Francisco to St. Louis took 25 days and nights, and many a stop was made along the 2,700 mile journey to change mule teams and to feed passengers. In Rawhide which 20th Century Fox left at the Rivolli over the weekend, the ride, is of short duration. All the drama which is played for suspense rather than for action, takes place during a twenty-four hour period at the desolate relay station in Arizona called Rawhide.
With only one set and a screenplay by Ludley Nichols which covers a fitfully dramatic situation, Director Henry Hathaway has turned out a surprisingly good entertainment. Mr. Hathaway's camera is confined to a small area, but it moves meaningfully and does much to create and sustain an atmosphere of tension.
Tyrone Power, as a station attendant, and Susan Hayward, as a passenger with a small child who is detained overnight by the stagecoach company for safety, are held as hostages by a group of escaped convicts out after gold. They mistake the couple as being man and wife and makes them carry on as though nothing were amiss at the risk of their lives, when the westbound coach pauses at Rawhide. The gunmen are waiting for the gold-laden eastbound coach due the next morning.
Mr. Nichols's story concerns the efforts of the captives to escape and to warn the incoming coach of the danger. It is a story of harrowing experiences and fears in which Mr. Power does not loom too impressively, simply because he never has much of a chance to do anything. Miss Hayward, who has more opportunity to express her indignation growing terror in warding off the advances of a leering member of the gang, does well by her role.
There are frequent enough flare-ups between the gang leader, Hugh Marlow, and a maniacal henchman, played with great disagreeable effect by Jack Elam. Although the action is sparse, Mr. Hathaway has expertly juggled the suspense elements of the script so that the picture generally holds one?s attention. The climax is full of regulation sounds and fury and there is a sequence in which the child becomes the target of the crazed gunman that is shockingly brutal.
Rawhide may not be a prize addition to the screen's vast Western library, but it is sufficiently different to warrant attention.
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I'll Never Forget You
Release Date: May 6, 1951
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
December 8, 1951
By Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
This week at the Roxy, Twentieth Century-Fox presents a reminiscence of its own "Berkeley Square" under the
new title "I'll Never Forget You," with Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth as the lovers who kiss across two centuries of British history. Like its predecessor of 1933, the new remake is based on the play by John L. Balderston, and its script by Ronald MacDougall tells how a young atomic scientist changes places with an ancestor in the late 18th century, only to have his romantic illusion of the past shattered by the squalor and past shattered by the squalor and bigotry he finds there. Under Roy Baker's direction the present scenes are in black and white and scenes are in black and white and the past appears in Technicolor which emphasizes the elaborate period facade. To a small extent "I'll Never Forget You" piques the curiosity with its supernatural developments, but as a whole it is a balsa wood rendition of the "Berkeley square" theme, a series of inert patterns cut from weak material.
The opening scene of the picture shows an experiment with atomically volatile materials in a modern laboratory, and nothing that happens later tops it in excitement. Weary of modern responsibilities, in possession of documents form the past in his Berkeley Square home and eager to travel through time to what he imagines is a serene age of reason, the scientist played by Mr. Power is obliged by a lightning bolt and finds himself in the same house in 1784, taken for visiting cousin from America. During his fourth-dimensional holiday he betrays himself with auguries about the future; devises a primitive electric light; shrinks from such unpleasant realities as child labor and lack of sanitation; exchanges epigrams with Dr. Johnson, and falls in love with the only girl who doe snot fear him and believes his weird story. In contrast to the situation, the treatment and the situation, the treatment and the acting are ordinary. The proper mannerisms of speech and gesture are all present, but they do not convey any believable emotion or meaning. This leaves "I'll Never Forget You" in the poses of a stiff period sham, unrelieved here by either romanticism of flamboyant action.
* * *
Without a sword at his side, Power finds no suitable dramatic weapon ready to hand. He is at a disadvantage in the drawing room fencing matches which he encounters here, and he is not able to bring his character to life. Miss Blyth is a routine adoring heroine without noticeable individuality, playing the 18th century belle who looks into her lover's eyes and finds visions of future there. Dennis Price gives the picture a touch of the right sort of local color in his role of a dandy, and Michael Rennie and Raymond Huntley are also members of this partly British cast. made in England, "I'll Never Forget You," looks artificial all the way through its lace-cuffed fantasy, which represents many times the effort but not a tenth of the enigma and portent of the scientific machinery in the first sequence.
December 8, 1951; By Bosley Crowther
Although there are obvious intimations of the lovely play, Berkeley Square, in the ovie I'll Never Forget You, which came to the Roxy yesterday, there is little of its poetry or magic in this latest rendering of it on the screen. Rather there are in this remake of the famous John Balderston play, which Twentieth Century-Fox has put together in London?s Denham studios, such stiff and materialistic aspects of ponderous crudity
that all the fragile charm and wistful pathos of the original are crushed beneath mass. And in the role of the hero, which the late Leslie Howard performed with wondrous grace and sensitivity on the stage and in the previous film, Tyrone Power is stolid and moody, as though he had been tapped on the head.
You may remember the story-of a modern-day American who, inheriting an old house in London becomes so enamored of the past that, by some peculiar dislocation, he is transmigrated back into the eighteenth century in the shape of an ancestor and, in that age of affectation, loves and loses a long ago girl.
Well, in this retelling of the story, for which Ronald MacDougall has done the script, the gentleman's modern-day connections are brought completely up to date. He is a nuclear physicist, considerable weary and worn-and perhaps just a little radioactive-from overwork in an English lab. Thus there's a possible suspicion that his strange difficulties with Time derive in some unexplained manner form hanging around a nuclear pile.
Certainly the scientific knowledge here credited to him supports an elaboration that was not in the original play. Our hero, distressed at the ignorance and want of the eighteenth century, sets up a secret laboratory in London, where he artfully contrives working modals of the camera, the steamboat, storage batteries and the incandescent bulb. And it is the discovery of these devices that brings his detractors to believe that he is indeed, a minion of the devil and that a madhouse is the best place for him.
As you can see, a disposition toward mechanical things dominates the flavor of the fantasy in this case. It also serves to angle the plot into byways of mechanistic doodling that drains much of the fanciful charm. For the rest, [although they are] pompously smothered in handsome period sets and costumes] the 18th century phases of the story are rather conventionally photographed in under-lighted Technicolor; the modern phases are in black and white.
In addition to Mr. Power as the changeling, the predominantly British cast includes Ann Blyth as the eighteenth-century sweetheart; Beatrice Campbell as an outraged fiancee; Irene Browne as a fluttery English mother and Michael Rennie as a modern scientist. Under the direction of Roy Aker, all of these people perform in a manner to help I'll Never Forget You become a thoroughly unmemorable event.
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December 12, 1951; Kahn.
The charm and sensitivity inherent in the 1933 Jesse L. Lasky production of Berkeley Square are notable absent in 20th-Fox's remake, now captioned I'll Never Forget You. Tyrone Power is playing the part originally done by Leslie Howard, and Ann Blyth has the Heather
Angel role, but they are unable to contribute much to relieve the films' involvements, nor the b.o.
Never Forget, partially Technicolored, is the story, in its modern form, of a 20the century scientist who tires of his existence in an up-and-atom modern day and becomes transplanted, as his own ancestor back to an 18th century England. Is scientific background serves him in good stead as he is able to predict with absolute certainly the results of science?s pursuit of the future.
But instead of getting the 18th century equivalent of the Nobel Prize for discovering, in advance, Thomas A. Edison Robert Fulton and maybe 20th Century Fox, he is held to be no more than an electronic lunatic who ought to be put away before he discovers television. He realizes that he is better off wearing herring-bone tweeds instead of lacey cuffs, but, alas, the young scientist has fallen in love, tragically, with Miss Blyth. He achieves happiness only when he discovers her counterpart in his return to the 20th Century.
All of this is done heavy-handedly, and none of the original humor emerges. The Leslie Howard version will be recalled as the story of an American who succumbs to 18th century charm and so transports himself there to startle the British gentry with his amazing predictions.
Power gives a monotonous performance that isn't aided any by an unmanageable script. Miss Blyth holds her own, while the presence of Michael Rennie points up the science-fiction trend that seems to have influenced 20th-Fox. It is Rennie who plays the robot-manipulating man - from another planet in 20th's The Day the Earth Stood Still, this time he is a modern-day British scientist.
The Technicolor trappings-in what seems like over-exposed film stock-are applicable to the 18the century unfolding, while the modern story is told in black and white. Made in England, the pic, outside of the two principals, has an exclusively British cast, namely Dennis Price, Raymond Huntley, Irene Browne and Beatrice Campbell, in addition to Rennie. The direction by Roy Baker has kept the performances on a one-note level, and the production supervision is not in keeping with 20th's usual Hollywood performance.
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Release Date: June 25, 1952
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
June 14, 1952
By Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
Spies on the Move
The diplomatic courier--the man with two watches and an air of detachment--steps out of character into a
swift and intriguing spy melodrama at the Roxy. Streamlined down to a search mystery whose episodes tumble over each other in a race toward the finish, the script for "Diplomatic Courier" wanders across Europe along railroad lines and down back alleys fighting an undercover battle in the cold war. Tyrone Power, in the title role, plays an aggrieved amateur caught between two fires in a contest over papers recording a Russian timetable for invasion and Patricia Neal and Hildegarde Neff are the two women whose warm proposition are underlined with political motive. Directed by Henry Hathaway, the picture tells its tale well and simplyu with all the extras of humor and excitement that are found in the best daydreams about international cat-and-mouse play.
The screen play by Casey Robinson and Liam O'Brien is a situation rather than a plot story, and its situation is one which keeps its personalities in motion on foot, by car, by air and in the darkened corridors of sleeper cars on the magic Simplon and Arlberg expresses. A diplomatic courier is assigned to pick up some important papers from a contact emerging from behind the iron curtain; the contact turns up murdered, with the papers missing, and the hunt begins as the Reds and the United States Army collide in secret efforts to find and capture the missing documents. The battle rages all over France, Germany and debated Trieste, fought with tricks, impersonations and detective logic rather than with bullets as one clue leads to another. there are too many incidents and attitudes to describe one by one, but the general impression of men as, mystery, action and counteraction is consistently strong in a film which seizes the imagination and carries it along on a diplomatic roller-coaster ride.
* * *
Many of the backgrounds for "Diplomatic Courier" were shot on location i Paris, Strasbourg and Trieste, and they are neatly incorporated by Hathaway into the fictional events of his film. Some of the director's cards are the familiar pasteboards of movie espionage, but they are dealt so fast that this is not harmful, and the very action is fascinating.
Tyrone Power, for instance, is much like the hero of "The Third Man," unused to violence in the common course of his respectable duties, and astonished by the duplicity of the enemy and by the seemingly cruel and insensitive counter-methods used by how own side. There is a hint of Hitchcock in the silent activities on an international train at night. The scenes, except for those involving the women, are as stripped-down as a semi-documentary, and there are a few other recognizable values. they are al good ones, though, and well organized in reasonable logical progressing. Hathaway makes no delays in his film for pretentious attempts at phony realism, and it gets a clear track for amusement and excitement at the top speed of fictional drama.
* * *
The women, if you had time in this film to stop and think about them, would not be too successful as characters in a taut spy story, but they serve the purpose of keeping the hero guessing as to which one is carrying the party card in her handbag. Miss Neal, as always cuts a most attractive figure on the screen as a well heeled playgirl and there is nothing half-hearted about her approaches to Tyrone Power. Miss Neff is more the tears and ideals type. Leading the mysterious troops on the two sides are Karl Malden as a G.I. Stephen McNally as a rugged American colonel and Stefan Schnabel and Herbert Berghof as a pair of calculating Red operatives. There are plenty of innocent bystanders hanging around looking like railroad officials and hotel employees, but "Diplomatic Courier" is the kind of film that makes you suspicious of everybody. It finally does sort out of the true from the false, and the process is good, fast fun to watch on the Roxy screen.
June 11, 1952; Brog.
20th-Fox has a topnotch spy thriller in this yarn of espionage set against a modern-day European background. The cloak-and-dagger melodramatics spill out realistically and with suspense, slanting the film for good response. Marquee values are good, headed by the name of Tyrone Power.
Based on Peter Cheyney's novel, "Sinister Errand," the script by Casey Robinson and Liam O'Brien has Power playing a diplomatic courier who issued by the Counter Intelligence Division to uncover the whereabouts of a missing Soviet timetable for invasion of Yugoslavia. The scripting, Robinson?s production supervision and the direction of Henry Hathaaway are aimed at keeping suspense alive and plenty of action and thrills, and they all succeed.
Power, the State Department's top postman, is sent to Salzburg to pick up vital secret papers from James Millican. At the arranged meeting place in a railway station, Millican refuses contact. Puzzled Power boards the train, soon spots the Millican is being closely watched by Soviet agents. Later, Millican is killed and, aware the Soviets did not get the papers Power is assigned to trace Hildegarde Neff, a Soviet agent with whom Millican worked, by Stephen McNally, CID man, in belief she will have some clue to the mystery.
Power is hampered in his work by Patricia Neal, seemingly a slightly nutty American tourist who is frankly on the make for the courier. Auto chases, close fights and ambushes are action devices generously used as the story moves towards a conclusion that reveals Miss Neal as an undercover Soviet agent and Miss Neff as a girl who posed as working for the enemy so she could escape to America. She and Power finally get together after the tangle of intrigue is cleared.
While the story follows the accepted formula for such spy thrillers, the handling is considerable above that level. The dialog is for Power's best heroics come about logically enough. It's his best screen effort in some time, and the two femmes are excellent in their contrasting roles. McNally hasn't too much to do but does it satisfactorily. Karl Malden, a Military Police sergeant; Millican and other on the right side come over well. Stefan Schnabel heads the lineup of Soviet agents in properly sinister style and impersonator Arthur Blake has a chance to show off two of his nitery characters, Carmen Miranda and Bette Davis, while working with the enemy.
Lucien Ballard's camera is an aid to the thrill melodramatics, and the foreign backgrounds add interest. The Sol Kaplan score is properly dovetailed to the intrigue.
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June 14, 1952; By Bosley Crowther
Something peculiar has happened to Twentieth Century-Fox. It has all the familiar elements of a continental spy mystery in its picture called Diplomatic Courier, which arrived at the Roxy yesterday?State Department secrets, European trains, murderers, footpads, Soviet agents, beautiful and unpredictable dames, military police zither music and a naturally bewildered man. It has Tyrone Power to act in it and Henry Hathaway to direct. And yet it has a picture of no more than middling appeal.
The fault seems to lie in the writing. Casey Robinson and Liam O'Brian, who did the script from a novel by Peter Cheyney, have assembled an impressive array of melodramatic occurrences, such as a mysterious murder on a train, muggings in Trieste, double dealings and, of course, a climactic "chase." They have arranged so that Stephen McNally and Karl Malden may be a couple of sharp M.P.'s, Patricia Neal maybe a bold American tourist and Hildegard Neff may be a Soviet spy. But they haven't concocted a story that has clarity and suspense, and Mr. Hathaway has not been able to direct it so that it looks like anything on the screen.
Mr. Power as a diplomatic courier?a State Department messenger, that is?gets involved in the oddest situations, which even a modest movie fan can see without too much understanding that he has no business being in. And, in this situation, he acts like a rather lame-brained chump. Likewise, the other high-powered parties to this fantastic cat-and-mouse game behave as though they were missing a couple of buttons here and there themselves.
Needless to say, the important secret (the Russian time-table for invading Yugoslavia) is retrieved but not before more than interest and patience have been torn to shreds.
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Release Date: December 11, 1952
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
December 20, 1952
By Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
The Queen's Brave Men
In case you haven't heard it before, "Pony Soldier" is an Indian nickname for a Canadian Mountie,
and its use as the title of the Globe's new Technicolor adventure movie is self-explanatory. This one has
Tyrone Power wearing the red coat and white gauntlets as he rides alone into a camp of 1,000 hostile redskins. These odds may seem uneven to those unfamiliar with Mountie tradition, but they are not. The sides are just right for an even, seesaw battle of wits between uniformed law and copper-belled hate, and the result is a clean, simple and enjoyable melodrama at the Globe.
When this John C. Higgins script begins, the Crees under Standing Bear have left their Canadian reservation for the country of the Long Knives (American Cavalry) in search of buffalo meat. This causes trouble, and it is the Mounties' job to attend to it. Like a copy answering a call to breakup a loud party at 3 a.m., Tyrone Power sets off uniformed to the nines to order 1,000 Cree devils back to the reservation and to release a pair of white hostages belonging to the most warlike of the Cree chiefs. He must resort to violence a couple of times before the job is done, but mostly this story is a clash of edgy attitudes on the council rock and among the forest of tepees, for the honor of Queen Victoria and the glory of the Pony Soldier service.
* * *
The actors perform gravely in their symbolical roles, from Power as the quiet-spoken officer of the Queen to Stuart Randall as Standing Bear, chief of all his tribe and better than his word. Also contributing here are Cameron Mitchell, sinking about in war paint and trying to breach the peace; Thomas Gomez as the Monte's timorous half-breed scout, and a youngster names
Anthony Earl Numkena playing an Indian lass who reacts to the sight of the Mountie as all children must and asks the policemen to become his father. "Pony Soldier" is history as in heroic color prints, with every value clear and shining on Technicolor film.
November 5, 1952; By Brog.
Only a modest amount of outdoor action entertainment is offered in this Technicolored feature, and even the name of Tyrone Power on the marquees won't be able to lure more than just fair trade. While visually attractive and occasionally actionful, the presentation is unconvincing and the appeal for the outdoor fan very spotty.
The film is based on a Saturday Evening Post story by Garnett Weston utilizing an exploit from the files of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the plot springboard John C. Higgins scripted and loaded the screenplay with banal dialog that neither the players nor Joseph M. Newman?s direction can overcome.
Power is a young Mountie assigned to herd a tribe of Cree Indians back on its Canadian reservation. With Thomas Gomez, a half-breed, as guide, the Mountie crosses the boarder into northern Montana, where the Indians are raiding buffalo herds, fighting with the Blackfeet and American Calvary troops. After difficulties, he contacts the tribe and delivers Her Majesty's orders to the resentful redskins. The Mountie also finds the Indians have tow white captives, Penny Edwards and Robert Horton, and orders their release. The bold stand of the pony soldier wins over the tribe's big chief, but a lesser chief, Cameron Mitchell refuses to give in and tries to kill Horton. Failing that, Mitchell and his followers then seize the girl, ride off into the hills and prepare to burn her at the stake. Power takes after them, accompanied by the big chief and a small Indian boy who has adopted him. When a hail of arrows and rifle bullets clears, Mitchel is dead, the girls saved and the Queen's orders fulfilled.
Power and the others in the cast have little chance to be more than just adequate in their performances as neither the script nor the situations into which they are tossed have credibility. The Indian boy is played by little Anthony Earl Numkena. Stuart Randall does the big chief. Adeline De Walt Reynolds, as an aged Indian squaw, and Howard Petrie, a Mountie inspector, round out the featured players.
Samuel G. Engels' production features effective location scenery, beautifully lensed by Harry Jackson. Alex North's music score is good.
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December 20, 1952; By Bosley Crowther
It is a mighty impressive tribe of Indians that Tyrone Power stalwartly subdues in Twentieth century-Fox's Pony Soldier, which came to the Globe yesterday.
Anything but the old-time movie redskins, full of festering resentments and booze, these are fine and upstanding representatives of a racial minority.
They are all the time holding solemn councils at which everyone had a chance to talk (in stilted, but richly flowery English) and they are great ones for keeping their words. And, of course, they are absolute sticklers for the proper full-dress Indian costumes, which look mighty handsome and heroic in the Technicolor used.
No wonder, then, that Mr. Power, as a fresh young Canadian mounted cop who has flunked his first assignment by failing to bring back his man and has now got the critical commission of shooting these Indians back to the reservation they have jumped, finds himself in the embarrassing position of having to defer to and respect not alone the superior firepower of his quarry but their social and intellectual prestige, too.
This would make for a stand-off situation and a pretty hopeless picture of around of it weren't that one of the Indians is a bit of an incendiary. This hothead not only counsels his brethren to defy the cop but he wants to do away with a couple of white hostages the tribe has caught. So Mr. Power does have something against which to strike a few sparks other than the noble faces and the lofty manners of a phalanx of braves.
It isn't enough, however, to provide a great deal more than a couple of standard clashes and a stubborn contest of jutting jaws. Mr. Power, of course, does the most jutting. In a spanking trim Monties' uniform?red coat, white helmet and a black trousers?he gallantly represents the Queen and graciously sets a fair example of white supremacy.
His most vigorous rival at jutting is Cameron Mitchell in the role of the Indian incediantry, who is finally killed by the cop's adopted son. This latter is an Indian orphan, played by Anthony Earl Numkena, if you please. Stuart Randall, as the chief of the outfit, and Thomas Gomez, as a heap big half-breed scout, the comic relief of the occasion, do a bit of jutting, too.
Directed by Joseph M. Newman, Pony Soldier is stiff-backed and slow?a pretty good Saturday morning picture for the boys in the Beaver Patrol.
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The Mississippi Gambler
Release Date: January 15, 1953
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
January 30, 1953
By Joe Pihodn
Tyrone Power is probably the luckiest gambler who ever turned a card on a Mississippi River boat. In "The Mississippi Gambler," a Technicolor yarn about love and money, Power can't lose even though he is an honest fellow who depends on a kill rather than marked cards to make a fortune. the fact that he is an honest gambler doesn?t' make him a fine example for impressionable youngsters who might figure that sitting down and raking in money at poker is a fitting way to make a living.
For there is no question about it: Power not only has three aces when the other fellow is raising on three kings, but is so fascinating that al the girls go for him. he never falls off the pedestal either in the Universal film at Lowe's State Theater. He is a defender of the virtue of women and a staunch supporter of a fair deal at the card table. A more holy gambler never existed.
This is the story of a fencing master (Power) who is determined to make something of himself by acquiring enough money on the boats to build a plush gambling den in New Orleans. He meets and falls in love with a New Orleans belle, Piper Laurie, and rescues a maiden in distress, Julia Adams, who in turn falls in love with him. There are duels and fights and some lovely clothing on display in Technicolor.
Yesterday morning's first audience at the State applauded the brave sentiments and self-sacrifice which preceded the inevitable joining of the two loves. The stilled action of "The Mississippi Gambler" called for something in the way of demonstration. The film wasn't quite funny enough for laughs.
January 14, 1953
The general situation will find The Mississippi Gambler a big b.o. entry. It has strong exploitation possibilities, Tyrone Power's name, plus the romantic flavor of the pre-Civil War period, in addition to the neat Technicolor cloaking.
Ted Richmond's production has done a good job taking care of the commercial assets, thought he overlooked a few wild cards. Seton I. Miller's story and screenplay have poorly stated plot tangents that prolong the footage to 99 minutes, instead of hewing to a straight romantic-action line. Rudolph Mate's direction was uneven.
Opening finds Power ready to start a career as an honest-dealing riverboat gambler. As he is ready to take off for the trip to New Orleans, dockside incidents team him with John McIntire, a card dealer, and acquaints him with Piper Laurie, spitfire southern belle, and her brother, John Baer. Power is a big winner with his straight card-play and breaks Baer while arousing the enmity of crooked gambler Ralph Dumke. Latter and his henchmen attack Power and McIntire, forcing them to jump ship, and they make their way to New Orleans, where Power seeks to further acquaint himself with Miss Laurie.
It is during this waiting romantic game that the film slows, with an occasional quickening scene, such as several unusually good fencing matches, an abortive gun duel that brands Baer a coward and further complicates Power's snit for the sister, and a few riverboat scenes, in one of which Power is responsible for Baer's death. The negative wooing of Miss Laurie gets another setback when her father, played by Paul Cavanagh, dies from wounds received in a duel defending the honor of Power and Julia Adams, a girl whom Power protects after her brother has killed himself because of card losses. During this prolonged New Orleans period, Miss Laurie weds Ron Randell, a banker, but eventually the loose plot ends sort themselves out by having Power and Miss Laurie turning their longing looks into a fadeout clinch after Randell absconds and leaves the way open for the pair's finale embrace.
Power carries off the romantic requirements with ease, looks good in his fencing scenes and otherwise takes good care of what action he is given. Miss Laurie is nice to look at in the period costumes, while Miss Adams, in a rather thankless role, fails to come off either photogenically or performance-wise. McIntire's old gambler does a lot to help carry things along, and Cavanagh is excellent. Baer tends to overact, while Randell, Dumke and the others are competent.
Theres plenty of eye appeal in Irving Glassberg's lensing, the art direction and settings, and in the femme costuming. Editing is choppy. Gwyneth Verdon staged and danced a voodoo terp sequence that adds an s.a. ballyhoo angle, but the number is permitted to run too long and, actually, is not necessary. Frank Skinner?s music score is good.
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January 30, 1953; by A. H. Weiler
Tyrone Power, a gambling man who shuffles a clean deck even while afflicted by the love of two nubile ladies is proving that honesty pays plenty either in salons of these fancy packets on Ol' Man River or in glamorous New Orleans. Mr. Power, in short, is up to his handsome head in charmers in crinoline, gay blades, sullen dastards and a variety of cliches in the Technicolored The Mississippi Gambler, which landed at Loew?s State yesterday. It is all flashily antebellum and as obviously pat as a royal flush.
But Seton I. Miller has not drawn a winning yarn or script in fashioning this Mississippi Gambler. He has merely strung together some pretty hoary situations in setting Tyrone Power up as a stalwart stymied by love while running up a fancy nest egg. He is involved with a superficially fiery dame and a passively adoring number. The volatile damsel he loves is too proud to admit it and marries a rich banker to spite her ardent admirer. The other lady, crazy about her hero because he did nobly by her late brother, apparently is not his type and spends her time mooning. To make things more complicated Mr. Power is hated by the weakling brother of the lass he loves-a jealous character who has eyes only for Mr. Power's cast-off.
As has been noted, The Mississippi Gambler is playing a pat hand and things are straightened out, but not before Mr. Power shows his prowess with the foils, his fists and with the cards. The aristocratic lady of his choice gets out of her predicament when her husband absconds with his bank's funds and her brother meets with a gory end. Rudolph Mate, who obviously was directing an overly complex yarn, did manage to get some excitement out of a voodoo dance number, a couple of fencing sessions in a salle d?armes and in a fight aboard a stern-wheeler. As the honorable and love-smitten gambler Tyrone Power is a gent who is handsome enough to turn the ladies' heads. And he is willing to enter into the play-acting as though he were serious about it.
Piper Laurie spends most of her time pouting as the hot-blooded heiress who is cool toward his advances. Julia Adams is merely pretty as the other girl, although both ladies wear enough eye-catching costumes to be the envy of any Southern belle. John McIntire does a competent job as Tyrone Power's professional sidekick. Jon Baer is callow as Miss Laurie's soft-spined brother and Paul Cavanagh is properly proud as their aristocratic father.
Nothwithstanding its costumes, duels, courtly manners, gaming and brawls, The Mississippi Gambler is standard stuff. It is romantic adventure of a century ago and it is gone with the wind. And a good thing too.
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King of the Khyber Rifles
Release Date: December 22, 1953
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
June 22, 1956
By Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
Power in Uniform
Remember "Pony Soldier," in which Tyrone Power played a Mountie and rode alone into a camp of hostile
redskins? Well, he has put on another uniform in the service of Queen Victoria in "King of Khyber Rifles" at the Rivoli; and once again he rides alone into the enemy camp with a parade-ground air of casual military elegance.
In his newest saga of romantic soldiering, Power plays a half-caste British officer in India in 1857. Because of his Moslem blood he is snubbed socially by the pukka sahibs, but he is much admired as a soldier. "King of Khyber Rifles" is part social problem and part adventure story as the half-caste falls in love with the general's daughter and demolishes a rebel army at the head of his troop of native cavalry. the mixture is not entirely smooth, but there is a lot of action in spectacular mountain settings filmed in spreading CinemaScope.
The problem of a man of mixed blood serving in a crack British regiment in the 19th century might seem much more acute if it did not center on Terry Moore as the general's daughter. With her turned-up nose and impetuous gestures, she plays the part as though the picture were a musical comedy about a Mid-Western college. When Power faces silent displeasure or pointed rudeness or the part of Michael
Rennie as the general or John Justin as a blond beau ideal of Sandhust, there is some urgency in the story. there is none in the romance, which takes up a lot of valuable time?it is simply another victim of the Hollywood proposition that starlets can play anything because they are pretty.
* * *
Power himself looks self-possessed and efficient as a West Pointer in the course of his military duties, which bring "King of Khyber Rifles" up to a high level of excitement at several points. The picture offers an assortment of thrills. there are incidents of garrison life and broad views of moving cavalry. There is a lot of good old fashioned suspense as Power rides alone to meet the rebel chieftain, and one gruesome scene in which captive British soldiers are tied to stakes and spitted by outlaw lancers. Henry King has staged his action very well indeed, and the climax is a welter of violence as the Khyber Rifles descend upon the enemy's camp in a surprise attack at night.
Movies in the blood-and-gallantry tradition of the India service have been at their best when stripped down to essentials of romance and daring. "King of Khyber Rifles" is diverted by a more loft purpose, and there are times when it looks as though it might die in its own attempt. It is always revived, thought, by a bugle call, and it wears its uniforms well, in
Technicolor, across the broad facsimile of India at the Rivoli.
December 23, 1953; By Bosley Crowther
At last, they have got themselves a fiction that is sufficiently picturesque and action-crammed to fill out and justify usage of the giant-sized CinemaScope screen.
In King of the Khyber Rifles, the old Talbot Mundy yarn about fighting between the British garrisons and the wild hill people on the Indian Northwest Frontier, Twentieth Century-Fox has discovered a stirring story of soldiers and steeds that takes on exciting proportions through the panoramic treatment provided by the new lens. With Tyrone Power as its hero, under the direction of Henry King, the blow-up of this adventure fable opened last night at the Rivoli.
There is no conspicuous distinction in the story as it is unreeled, outside of a slight racial deviation presented in the role played by Mr. Power. It is simply the story of a fine young captain at a frontier army post, who is snubbed by virtually everyone (the major exception being the commanding general's daughter) because he is half-caste son of a British officer and a Moslem girl.
No Expense Spared
However, when the right man is needed to lead a troupe of Khyber Riflemen out into the hills and take on a band of menacing natives, led by the captain's old Indian boyhood friend?well, you can guess who is selected. That's the kind of story it is.
But that is precisely the reason it looks good on the CinemaScope screen--that and the fact that it is presented with dash and with no expense spared. The action is graphic and romantic, it is spread over all outdoors and the color of the costumes and the scenery is as handsome as it possibly could be. Talk of an eye-filling picture! Here is mostly definitely is.
Wide sweeps of dusty desert with saw-toothed mountains on the horizon, British troopers and native horsemen in scarlet and light brown uniforms, kilted pipers parading within the garrison, native dancing girls twinkling in low-lit rooms--these are the kinds of potent pictures that are spread across the wall-to-wall screen.
And when it comes to action, there are such appropriately broad things as a windstorm sweeping across the desert, a big pig-lancing of British captives tied to stakes and three or four mortal encounters of whole bands of shooting, hooting leaping men. A little tie-in with the occurrence of the famous Sepoy Mutiny justifies a crisis over the use of rifles in the climactic showdown melee, and a consequent bit of bloody butchery with knives is conveniently rung in.
Being a long-experienced craftsman at this sort of pictorial thing, Director King has taken full advantage of the extreme panoramic frame. He has carefully arranged his composition in a wide horizontal plane, and has shot his scenes with a good bit of camera movement but a minimum of cuts. Even the scene of an encounter between the hero and the rebel lead......two adversaries stretched out in and straining grapple on the floor. One couldn't get away with this too often, but Mr. King has got in first and done it here.
Indeed, it is evident that he has studied the problems of CinemaScope and has found pretty way of overcoming the ponderous strictures of the oversized screen. When he has two characters talking, for instance, he keeps them far enough apart so that the eye must switch from one to the other, and thus do its own "cutting," or else he keeps them cozily close. Nor does he try anything more intimate than an occasional medium-close shot. He has skillfully harmonized his shooting with the physical characteristic of his screen.
As for the acting performers they do their jobs aptly and well. Mr. Power is solemn and efficient as befits a man of courage and pride. Mr. Rolfe is outrageously evil as the villainous leader of the tribes, and Michael Rennie is a gentleman's general as the straight-laced commander of the troops. John Justin and Richard Stapley s other officers; Murray Matheson, as a soldierly Scot, and Terry Moore, as the general?s nubile daughter, fill their roles handsomely.
King of the Khyber Rifles is not the last word in movies, by any means. But it is a lot of picture to look at, and it is the best one in CinemaScope we've seen.
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December 23, 1953; By Brog.
The romantic adventuring in King of the Khyber Rifles takes naturally to the panoramic powers of CinemasScope, besides being satisfactory derrin' do that could be figured to give an okay account of itself without photographic trickery. The anamorphic process is still novelty enough to be marquee-worthy and a ticket-seller, thus providing its 20th-Fox release with added importance at the boxoffice. The prospects appear prosperous.
A neat round of showmanly values feature that Frank P. Rosenberg production, and he has Tyrone Power to head the cast in the costumed display of bravado that is brightly dressed in Technicolor hues. Henry King, an old hand at this type of plot, sends the Ivan Goff-Gen Roberts screenplay throughout its courses at a gait calculated to hold interest, even when the picture isn't concerned with the more robust doings. A rousing finale climaxes the Harry Kleiner story, which was based on the old Talbot Mundy novel, and in between CinemaScope adds sweep and spectacle to the India settings facsimilled by the terrain around California's Lone Pine area. Leon Shamroy?s camera work is a potent part of the way these compelling outdoor vistas come over.
Picture is laid in the India of 1857 when British colonial troops were having trouble with Afridi tribesmen. The plot opens with Power, a half-caste English officer, being assigned to the Khyber Rifles, a native troop at a garrison headed by Michael Rennie, English general. For romance, Rennie has a daughter, Terry Moore, who is instantly attracted to Power despite British snobbery over his mixed blood.
From here on, the footage is taken up with developing the romance while the hero projects the heroine from native dangers and kidnap attempts by Guy Rolfe, leader of the Afridis and a foster brother of Power's. King's direction builds towards the climax well and it's real thrilling footage when Power leads his Khyber Rifles into fray against Rolfe's men with only their knives as weapons after they have spurned new Enfield rifles because they believe the bullets are greased with forbidden pig fat.
The male heroics are played with a stiff-lipped, stout-fellowish Britishism perfectly appropriate to the characters. Power is a good hero. Miss Moore attractively pursuing her man. Rennie is excellent as the commanding general and Rolfe does another of his topnotch villains. John Justin, Richard Stapley, Murray Matheson, Frank de Kova, Sujata, who spots a number of interesting dances, Frank Lackteen and Alberto Morin are among others contributing worthy performances to the action plot.
Bernard Herrmann, how a film vet, once a radio vet, contributes background music that helps to further the feel of the foreign locale and it helps also in the action, expect in a few scenes where silence, not music, would have keyed the mood better. Technical credits are topnotch, including Barbara McLean's editing, the settings and costumes.
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The Long Gray Line
Release Date: February 9, 1955
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
February 11, 1955
By William K. Zimsser
Long Way From Tipperary
Sure and there'll be snifflin' today at the ould Capitol theater. Irish eyes will be smilin' through the tears at the story of Marty Maher (pronounced Ma-rrrrr) him that came over from Tipperary back in '98 and was the darlin' of all the lads at West Point for fifty years, him that knew Eisenhower and Bradley when they were cadets. Oh it's sentimental this tale is, and niver a bit of blarney in it. Would you be accusin' the Irish of tellin' a tall story now?
That's approximately the way people talk in "The Long Gray Line," and the movie might almost give you the idea that West Point is a school exclusively for Irish boys. But it could hardly be otherwise Maher is as Irish as the shamrock, and the film catches his personality completely. And engaging man he is, too, and it's no wonder he was the friend of three generations of cadets.
Though Maher was an athletic instructor, this is not a sports movie. It has not cheer leaders, last minute touchdowns and old college razzmatazz. It is a study of West Point over half a century--a span in which the cadets twice went off to war--and it has both continuity and affection because, it is seen through they eyes of one man.
It also has its faults. It is too long, and it uses some truly ancient tear-jerking devices. Nevertheless there are many moments when strong men will gulp and women will dab at their eyes, and handkerchiefs will rustle in unison when the white harried Maher receives his final salute from the corps. Here the picture approaches the tender and touching quality of "Good-bye, Mr. Chips."
If the movie is effective, most of the credit must go to Tyrone Power, whose performance as Maher is superb. It is sensitive and flexible--it covers the whole range of subtle changes in a man's personality over a lifetime.
As a boy just off the boat, newly hired as a waiter at West Pont, he is full of youthful laughter and Irish temper. As an Army sergeant and apprentice coach, he is somewhat more serious, but compassionate enough to see the cadet's problems and help them.
As suitor of the beautiful Maureen O'Hara he swaggers with romantic bravado, and as her husband he has steadiness and warmth. When his cadets are killed in war, his grief is the deep, quiet sorrow of a mature man.
Gradually he fills in the portrait of a complete man, immensely likeable and his seventy-year old is the most appealing of all. Fidgeting self-consciously at the honors being done him late in life, blinking through his glasses at shiny new cadets surprising him with Christmas presents, he seems to be a West Point institution himself, only slightly less traditional than the parades and rituals which director John Ford has filmed in CinemaScope on that serene campus above the Hudson.
* * *
Maureen O'Hara is the perfect colleen to flutter a young cuckoo's heart, and as she and Marty grow ould together, things get as sentimental as if four drunken Irish tenors were singing "Mother Machree" in a Third Avenue saloon. Ward bond is his gruff old self as a captain who gives Marty his start, and Donald Crisp postures his way through a patriarchal role as Marty's father.
The movie is also full of cadets bubbling over with boyish spirits, and we even se the youthful
Eisenhower receiving his degree with the illustrious class of 1915 in the person of Harry Carey Jr. Carey has an appropriately round face and winning smile. Historic detail is thus preserved, and sure it must be the luck of the Irish that they found the boy at all.
February 9, 1955; By Brog.
The Long Gray Line is a standout drama on West Point with appeal for most all types of audiences. It merits and should hit a strong pace at the boxoffice, particularly in view of the favorable word-of-mouth the initial showings will create. It is frankly sentimental, very human, proudly patriotic, and quite long with its two hours and 15 minutes running time. Only a small minority will quarrel with either the unabashed sentiment or the footage.
For Tyrone Power the role of Marty Maher, Irishman through whose eyes the story is told, is a memorable one. Certainly none of his more recent films roles has had the depth or breadth that would permit full use of his considerable talent as does this one. For Maureen O'Hara, his costar, the picture also is a major credit and she brings to the role of Maher's wife her Irish beauty and seldom displayed acting ability. Both are very fine.
Robert Arthur's exceptionally well-fashioned production is based on Bringing Up the Brass, the autobiography of Maher's 50 years at the Point which he wrote with Nardi Reeder Campion. A screenplay by Edward Hope that is full of wonderfully human touches gave just the right foundation for John Ford to show his love for country (and the Irish) with his direction. Story oscillates between unashamed sniffles and warm chuckles, Ford not being afraid to bring a tear or stick in a laugh.
In addition to spanning the 50 years Maher spent at West Point, the picture writes a patriotic history of the Academy during a period in which two World Wars fell and through which passed such cadet names as President Eisenhower, Generals Bradley, Pershing, Cousing, McNarney, Stratemeryer and Van Fleet.
Maher's story begins when he comes to West Point, fresh off the boat from Ireland, and becomes a waiter in the cadet mess hall. From there he joins the regular Army, remaining at the Point with the service troops stationed there. He worked as an athletic trainer and swimming instructor and became, with the Irish lass who married him, friend and adviser to the embryo officers who trained at the Academy during the half-century. It?s what Maher, his wife and the cadets put into those years that makes this picture rich with incident and the script, the direction and playing blend it all into rewarding drama.
The cast is large, and the performances are of a quality that merit individual praise. Donald Crisp is great as Maher's father, brought to this country by the soldier's bride as a surprise. Robert Francis shows up very well as a second-generation cadet, the son of Bets Palmer and William-Leslie. Miss palmer scores as the mother and Leslie shows much promise. Ward Bond walks off with a sock rendition of the Academy's Master of the Sword (athletic director), and Phil Carey impresses as Cadet Dotson, now general. All of the others, too, are equally good, and include Harry Carey Jr., as the young Cadet Eisenhower; Patrick Wayne as Cherub Overton; Sean McClory as Maher's brother; Peter Graves, Milburn Stone, Erin O?Brien Moore, Walter D. Ehlers and Willis Buchey.
West Point, its grounds its buildings and its cadets in review have been strikingly lensed in CinemaScope and Technicolor by Charles Lawton Jr. The editing by William Lyon is a standout job of blending together the wealth of footage. Also important to the entertainment is the music adaptation by George Duning which Morris Stoloff supervised and conducted.
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February 11, 1955; By Bosley Crowther
If the green of the shamrock seems to color Columbia's The Long Gray Line, which trooped with pennants snapping into the Capitol yesterday, it is not in the least surprising. This film tells the story of Marty Maher, a much-beloved athletic trainer and instructor at West Point for fifty years.
The role of the Irish hero is played by Tyrone Power. And the picture is lustily directed by that most positive Hibernian, John Ford.
As a consequence, this rich and rousing tribute to West Point and Sergeant Maher, to the Academy's deep tradition and to its long line of loyal cadets, tends somehow to leave the impression that the Irish captured the Point when Marty Maher took up residence and that it continued that way for fifty way.
This notion, while slightly misleading so far as the facts are concerned, is not in the least disturbing to the entertainment at hand. For the Irish-at least, the John Ford Irish-are a lively and colorful lot, and they lend a tone a proper feeling to this jocose and sentimental film.
From the moment that Marty Maher enters as an Irish lad fresh off the boat, arriving to take a job as a waiter in the Academy dining-half, the jokes fly with nimble wit and clarity in a variety of Irish brogues. And the heart-strings are tugged on frequent occasions with a fearless lack of restraint.
There are others than Mr. Power do it. Maureen O'Hara as the Irish servant girl whom Marty marries and has as helpmate and companion in his years at West Point contributes a share of golden laughter and gallant choked-back tears. Donald Crisp as his proud and willful father is amusing and touching, too. Ward Bond as the physical director-the Master of the Sword-is the grupp type of military softie. Even he, though his name is Koehler, speaks with a trace of brogue. And then there are endless files of cadets-Sundstroms and Dotsons and Eisenhowers-to be chewed out, cajoled and deeply cherished by Marty Maher and, in turn, to shower affection on him.
If the character that emerges in this picture from a series of human episodes is strongly reminiscent of another "father" to lots of boys, Mr. Chips, that is not his discredit. Marty Maher was that at West Point-perhaps not so polished and pedantic, but still Mr. Chips with a brogue. And this is the character screenwriter Edward Hope has obviously strived to distill from Bringing Up the Brass, Nardy R. Campion's biography of the West Point figure.
In any even, it is a character that is mawkish at times but always warm, occasionally farcical and ridiculous but always lovable. The talent for giving a mawkish incident a genuine throb is a gift of Mr. Ford. He frequently does it in this picture, which just misses going overboard. He also has set the personal story in the big, warm frame of a West Point that looks beautiful in CinemaScope and color and has the excitement of parading cadets and thumping bands.
Duty, pride and honor are the virtues that glow warmly in this film, which might better be titled The Long Green Line-especially when the customers start flocking in.
The Long Gray Line is an Inspiring Picture
Now that The Long Gray Line has been exposed on the Capitol Theatre screen, all those nervous West Pointers, past and present, who feared that the U.S. Military Academy was going to be used again merely as the background for a talking mule, may relax.
The Columbia production, photographed in Technicolor and Cinemascope, is a picture that any cadet or graduate of the military college may watch with pride. It will move to tears of joy and sorrow any citizen who takes an interest in his country's service institutions.
The story unveiled on the Capitol screen is a heart-warming human document that is bound to stir up many emotions in the beholder. It is a well-told tale of an enlisted man who finds his professional m鴩er as a trainer of youth and has a full, rich life in the role of mentor to one class of cadets after another.
The Long Gray Line, based on the book Bringing Up the Brass, an autobiography of Srgt. Martin Maher, written in collaboration with Nardi Reeder Campion, is a history of West Point for the past fifty years, as well as Marty's personal history. Mrs. Campion, married to an officer, spent her early years as an army brat at West Point, where Marty was a familiar and well-loved figure.
Maher, according to the film, came to the Point as an immigrant from Ireland, started as a waiter in the cadet mess hall and then enlisted in the regular army and was assigned to duty on the spot. He became attached to the director of physical education, known as "Master of the Sword," and taught the cadets to swim and box and acted as trainer of the football squad.
Marty's romance with a girl who worked as a housemaid for an officer's family at the Point and his devotion to her after she became his wife, gives the picture a pleasant glow that warms the collective heart of the audience.
Well Adapted to Screen
The book has been admirably adapted to the screen by Edward Hope, who preserved the wit, broad humor and genuine pathos of the story, which director John Ford has recorded artfully in the film. The latter has obtained a series of splendid performances from the cast.
Tyrone Power, as Marty, does the most colorful and palpable acting of his career, as he ages gracefully from an awkward greenhorn to a wise and witty man. Maureen O'Hara is charming and delightfully amusing as Marty's wife and Donald Crisp gives on of his incisive screen portraits in the role of Marty's father.
Ward Bond is excellent as the athletic director and so is Robert Francis, whose sensitive countenance mirrors the joys, problems, irritations and woes of a cadet who lives by the honor system. Phil Carey and Betsy Palmer are exceptionally good and Harry Carey Jr., Peter Graves, Patrick Wayne (John's son), Erin O'Brien Moore and Sean McClory respond intelligently to Ford's direction.
A Real Drama of War
Marty's presence at the graduation class of 1915, which produced the Big Brass of World War II is shown on the screen and the names of Eisenhower, Bradley, Van Fleet, Patton and Stratemeyer are called from the rolls. The sergeant said an affecting farewell to the class of 1917, the boys who went to war before graduation, many of them never to return. And he saw the son's of his favorite cadets off to World War II.
Robert Arthur produced this fine picture for Columbia, with Lt. Col. George McIntyre and Maj. George Pappas acting as technical advisers. Most of the action was filmed at West Point and the interiors of the cadet mess hall, the gymnasium and cadet chapel are used for some of the effective scenes in the picture.
The Long Gray Line had its world premiere in Washington Wednesday night before a audience made up mostly of Srgnt. Martin Maher's friends, which included the Big Brass of the Pentagon.
The Long Gray Line
Time, Feb. 2, 1955
The Long Gray Line is the spirit of West Point as seen through the smiling Irish eyes of Technical Sergeant Marty Maher, for 50 years an Academy athletic trainer. It's a darlin' tribute to Martin Maher (who actually retired nine years ago at 50) and to the Point-although, by the end of the 2 1/1 hour picture, the viewer may feel he has been in for the full four year treatment.
As played by Tyrone Power, Marty is a fresh greenhorn from Ireland who comes to the Point as a messboy and in time joins the Army who marries Maureen O'Hara
and becomes not only an all around trainer but confidant and informal adviser to a long gray line of cadets. Since it all began in 1896, director John Ford gets a chance to toss in the names or quick flashes of the faces of the West Pointers who later became national heroes. Macarthur, Patton, Bradley, Stratemayer Wainwright, Van Fleet, and in depicting the first Army-Notre Dame football game of 1913, a fierce young Notre Dame end, Knute Rockne. There is also a glimpse of another of Maher's favorite lads, a blond, pink-faced boy named Dwight Eisenhower (played by Harry Carey Jr.)
There is plenty of competent acting in Gray Line, by such regulars as Power, O'Hara, Donald Crisp and Ward Bond and a few laughs, too. Mostly, though, there are too many attempts to drive the Point home with a mixture of weeping and corn.
The Long Gray Line Taps Tear Ducts
New York World Telegram
February 11, 1995
The Long Gray Line strikes another gusher of sentiment to add to the long parade of movies paying tribute to West Point. The revered figure of this new one at the Capitol is Sgt. Marty Maher, for half a century an athletic trainer with the Cadets.
John Ford was chosen as the director for this task. John is a man with extra relish for an Irish smile or tear so he has chosen a tone of soft-hearted blarney for telling his story.
When Marty Maher (played by Tyrone Power) first arrived at west point, he was an awkward goon, fresh from Ireland, with a job as waiter. He blundered his way into the Army and through the first few years of service with the Cadet athletic teams.
His ignorant foolishness is used for comedy in the first half of the picture. He drops dishes, falls into the swimming pool and makes a ludicrous fool of himself in all directions.
The latter reels open the drive on the tear ducts. Marty's only son dies in infancy and he loses his dear wife and father. A review is dedicated to him by the entire Cadet Corps. They even threw in an affectionate reunion with a president Eisenhower at the White House.
Tyrone Power plays the conventional screen Irishman, a caricature of bad temper, ready with and stubborn knuckle headedness. The role calls for more comic than acting talent and comedy never has been the Power specialty. John Ford has assembled quite a few of his regular gang for the picture. He has Maureen O'Hara back as a shrewish spitfire, the part in which he has cast her so often in the past. Ward Bond is a genial and prankish coach and Donald Crisp swaggers as a tyrannical old father. Robert Francis of the "The Caine Mutiny" is the most important character among the cadets.
The Long Gray Line
Long Way From Tipperary
New York Herald Tribune
William K. Zinsser
February 11, 1995
Sure and they'll be snifflin' today at the old Capitol Theatre. Irish eyes will be smilin? through the tears at the story of Marty Maher (pronounced Ma-rrrr)-him that came over from Tipperary back in '98 and was the darlin' of all the lads at West Point for fifty years, him that knew Eisenhower and Bradley when they were cadets. Oh it's sentimental this tale is and niver a bit of blarney in it. Would you be accusin' the Irish of tellin' a tall story now?
That's approximately the way people talk in The Long Gray Line, and the movie might almost give you the idea that West Point is a school exclusively for Irish boys. But it would hardly be otherwise-Maher is as Irish as the shamrock, and the film catches his personality completely. And engaging man he is, too, and it's not wonder he was the friend of three generations of cadets.
Though Maher was an athletic instructor, this is not a sports movie. It has no cheer leaders, last-minute touchdowns and old college razzmatazz. It is a study of Wets Point over half a century-a span in which the cadets twice went off to war-and it has both continuity and affection because it is seen through the eyes of one man.
It also has its faults. It is too long, and it uses some truly ancient tear jerking devices. Nevertheless there are man moments when strong men will gulp and women will dab at their eyes, and handkerchiefs will rustle in unison when the white haired Maher receives his final salute from the Corps. Here the picture approaches the tender and touching quality of Good-bye Mr. Chips.
If the movie is effective, most of the credit must go to Tyrone Power, whose performance as Maher is superb. It is sensitive and flexible-it covers the whole range of subtle changes in a man's personality over a lifetime.
As a boy just off the boat, newly hired as a waiter at West Point, he is full of youthful laughter and Irish Temper. As an Army sergeant and apprentice coach, he is somewhat more serious but compassionate enough to see the cadets' problems and help them.
As suitor to the beautiful Maureen O'Hara he swaggers with romantic bravado, and as her husband he has steadiness and warmth. When his cadets are killed in war, his grief is the deep, a quiet sorrow of a mature man.
Gradually he fills in the portrait of a complete man, immensely likable, and his seventy year old is the most appealing of all. Fidgeting self-consciously at the honors being done him late in life, blinking through his glasses at shiny new cadets surprising him with Christmas presents, he seems to be a West Point institution himself, only slightly less traditional than the parades and rituals which director John Ford has filmed in CinemaScope on that serene campus above the Hudson.
Maureen O'Hara is the perfect colleen to flutter a young bucko's heart, and as she and Marty grow old together, things get as sentimental as if four drunken Irish tenors were singing "Mother Machree" in a third Avenue saloon. Ward bond is his gruff old self as a captain who gives Marty his start, and Donald Crisp postures his way through a patriarchal role of Marty's father.
The movie is also full of cadets bubbling over with boyish spirits and we even see the youthful Eisenhower receiving his degree with the illustrious class of 1915 in the person of Harry Carey Jr. Carey has an appropriately round face and winning smile. Historic detail is thus preserved, and sure it must be the luck of the Irish that they found the boy at all.
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Release Date: March 3, 1955
March 2, 1955; By Hift.
If one proceeds on the assumption that CinemaScope "bigness," coupled with unusual backgrounds, still works its spell on the audience, Untamed, with all of these elements, shapes up as a healthy b.o. contender. It's a romance-laden action western with fiery Zulus supplanting the Redmen, and Boers taking the place of the western pioneers.
Unfortunately, despite some truly grandiose and eye-filling scenery and battle action stated with sock effect in the early part of the film, this Bert E. Friedlob-William A. Bacher production just isn't; a very good picture. It's overlong (there are at least three different potential endings); its more intimate scenes lack conviction and the scripting at times borders on the amateurish, quite an accomplishment considering that it took three men-Talbot Jennings, Frank Fenton and Michael Blankfort-to whip together the screenplay.
This may easily go down as one of the greatest see-saw romances in screen history, with Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward as the alternately eager and reluctant couple. Lack of god judgment in not editing out unnecessary sequences makes the film drag in many spots and appear repetitious. Also, there are some bits that are acted in a manner to invite hilarity when none was intended. These could easily be trimmed without the slightest harm being done to the production. On the contrary, it'd be improved.
Based on the Helga Moray novel, Untamed in many parts is an ideal CinemaScope action vehicle and director Henry King, who spent several months in South Africa t get his backgrounds, has come up with some gusty footage. The rugged scenery, with the Boer wagons strung out in a vast, slow-moving line; the Zulu attack, with moments of real horror and great tension; the moment the Boers reach their goal-all these give the picture an occasional exciting quality and should provide the meaty action that fans savor.
Story, in main, is concerned with the great Boer trek, when they fought and died to establish the Dutch Free State. Woven into this is the personal and turbulent love story about one of the Dutch leaders and an Irish girl who loved him on two continents. Power meets Miss Hayward in Ireland. Later she marries and induces her husband to go to South Africa t start a new life. He is killed and the romancing between Power and Miss Hayward continues to the point where she bears him a child (of which he knows nothing, having gone off to fight). In the end, in one of the most poorly acted sequences of the picture, Miss Hayward reveals to Power the origin of the child, and he slips a ring on her finger.
Miss Hayward struggles somewhat grimly with a part that would defy and actress. However, she?s easy on the eye, wears some attractive period dresses and is emotional when the occasion demands. There are some scenes, such as the one when she has to sow a field and another when she gets a lengthy back massage from Power, that are obviously beyond her capacity. Also, the scripts' demands, that she blaze with anger one minute and melt amorously in the next, are tough on any actress when this temperamental turnabout continues throughout the entire film.
Power is properly rugged and in parts curiously wooden in a routine role, Like the rest, he's hindered by some of the incredible lines he's asked to speak. Richard Eagan as Miss Hayward's suitor who eventually turns bully and outlaw carries a good punch and cuts a promising new screen figure. Agnes Moorehead as Miss Hayward's nurse is barely in the picture. Rita Moreno puts a lot of fire into the role of the passionate waif, Egan's girl.
Best and most exciting scenes in the picture are the ones shot in South Africa, with thousands of dancing and shouting Zulus, drummed into a frenzy, attacking the Boer wagon train. Leo Tover's lensing is done with the big CinemaScope screen in mind. Director King also threw in some extras, such as a big dust storm which topples a huge tree which in turn pins down a man whose leg has to be amputated in a somewhat gruesome scene complete wagonized yelling, etc. and a whip-duel between Power and Egan.
Untamed is said to have cost $3,750,000, a rather considerable investment, not all of which shows up on the screen. This isn't exactly a critics' picture, but the African adventure tag plus exploitation values should contribute to a lively b.o. showing. De Luxe tints come out just fine.
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March 12, 1955; By Bosley Crother
Thanks to a recent advertisement for Twentieth Century-Fox Untamed, the big CinemaScope outdoor drama that rolled into the Roxy yesterday, we learned that team of oxen was largely responsible for this film. Without these collaborators, the ad said, it couldn't have been done.
The contribution of the oxen, according to the ad, was to haul the CinemaScope cameras into the African wilds for the shooting of some of the more magnificent and spectacular action scenes.
These are scenes in vivid color or horde of wild Zulus attacking a wagon train of Dutch, French, Irish and other immigrants trekking into the Dark Continent to establish a new Boer settlement. At least, we suppose these are the scenes for which the oxen brought up the cameras. If so, they deserve commendation, for these scenes are the best in the film.
But we have a suspicion that those oxen also had something to do with the writing of the script-and maybe even directing some sequences. For the script and, indeed, the direction manifest a very heavy hand-or hoof.
The story, taken from a novel by Helga Moray, expounds the adventures of a lovely Irish lady during the settling of South Africa by the Boers and her rather loose associations with at least three men. One is her Irish husband, who is killed in the wagon-train affair-a removal that is highly convenient, seeing as how the lady is really in love with another man.
This second fellow is the leader of the Boer commando troop (they make much use of that word "commando") that rescues the wagon-train. But he, unfortunately, is more interested in establishing a Dutch Free State than in settling down with the lady. Why he can't do both is never clearly explained. Anyhow, when he goes off to do things, our lady takes up with another man, who builds up a likely farm for her while she bears a baby by the second gent.
There's no use in going much further into how the lady sheds the farm hand, finds a diamond as big as a goose egg, becomes wealthy, then becomes poor and finally ends up with that commando who has, meanwhile, got the Free State on its feet. (Oddly enough, the scriptwriter stop short of the so-called Boer War).
The point is that all this maneuvering is heavily and obviously done-in the manner of an old western epic-under the direction of Henry King. The performances of Susan Hayward as the lady, John Justin as her Irish spouse, Tyrone Power as the commando leader and Richard Egan as the fellow who works the farm are mechanical and unrevealing. They are handsome automatons. Only Agnes Moorehead as an Irish nanny sneers and snorts at the entire goings-on.
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The Eddy Duchin Story
Release Date: May 28, 1956
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
'The Eddy Duchin Story'
June 22, 1956
By William M. Zinsser
HOLLYWOOD likes to pay homage to the popular musicians of America. Quite a few movies have been made about our beloved songwriters and band leaders like Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman.
The latest man to be canonized is Eddy Duchin. the new movie at Radio City Music Hall traces the short, tragic life of the pianist who brought his own brittle style to the ballroom jazz of the thirties.
but the emphasis is not on music in "The Eddy Duchin Story". It is on sentiment. this makes it a mournful picture, for illness and death cast a long shadow over the kid who thought, when h first stormed New York, that all the breaks were going his way.
Duchin is played by Tyrone Power. the move begins with his arrival in the big city. He gets a job playing with Leo Reisman's band in the Central Park Casino, falls in love with a society belle (Kim Novak), and marries her. She keeps having morbid premonitions and a few years later dies in childbirth.
Duchin is so stricken that he doesn't even want to see his newborn son. He leaves the boy with relatives, and he takes his band away from New York on a tour that lasts many years.
War breaks out and he enlists kin the Navy. When he finally returns to take up his paternal duties, his son is twelve years old and hostile to his father?a fact that seems to bake Duchin by surprise.
He slowly wins the boy's affections, marries again, and starts life fresh when he learns that he has a fatal illness and only a year to live.
* * *
That's a heavy dose of heartbreak for one movie, even a Hollywood movie. "The Eddy Duchin Story" plods from one gloomy climax to another for more than two hours.
It would be nice, since Duchin was held in such esteem, if all these events made a war, emotional drama. But the truth is that this is not a good movie.
The writing is pedestrian, George Sidney's direction is sluggish, and the actors go about their chores with apathy. Even the music, which might have given the film a special excitement, is undistinguished, Carmen Cavallaro, who made the piano recordings, has managed to approximate Duchin's noisy, rippling style, but most of the solos and band arrangements are banal.
* * *
The dramatic scenes are unbelievable sticky. A weeding night sequence, for instance, is mawkish and interminable. So are the closing scenes when Duchin befriends his son and then tells him that he must "go away" again, this time against his will.
"But Daddy, there's nobody who can tell you what to do."
"Yes son, there's somebody who tells us all what to do."
That is the quality of the screenplay throughout. Never does it take us into the mind or heart of its characters. They all complain about their fate but none of them finds a trace of resignation of faith. without any positive values of this king, the movie seems cold and sterile.
* * *
"The Eddy Duchin Story" offers little range for its stars. Power smiles through the piano sequences and frowns during the soulful moments, but there is no middle ground.
Kim Novak and Victoria Shaw are pretty but insipid as the first and second Mrs. Duchin. Shepperd Sturdwick, Frieda Inescort, James Whitmore and most of the other actors are so bored that they can hardly stay awake.
May 30, 1956; By Gene.
The pitfalls have been averted; Jerry Wald's biopicturing of the career of "10 Magic Fingers" is not all the sorrow and woe that the story of Eddy Duchin might suggest. There's no escaping the fact that the pianist's first wife died shortly after childbirth. And that this was followed 12 years later by Duchin's own death, at the age of 41, as the result of leukemia. All sounds like "agony" material and therefore something of a "problem" entertainment-and money-wise.
But Samuel Taylor plays up humor and romance as well as the inherent hardship in his script and George Sidney's direction, sensitive for the most part, sustains a high dramatic tone with, of course, the abundance of pianistics recorded by Carmen Cavallaro) further lightening the plot matter.
Duchin Story falls off to schmaltiziness in a few instances (as a result of accent on sentimentality) but nonetheless it's a highly satisfactory offering all around.
Key asset is Tyrone Power, in the title role, Only a short memory is required to recall Duchin's affability and the high regard in which he was held by show business. The latter not only for the sympathy concerning the tragedies that befell him, but, as well, the courage he showed in War World II, in insisting on combat duty in preference over the entertaining role that was offered him.
Power fits nicely. He's personable and eager as he hits Gotham from pharmaceutical school in Boston bent only on tapping out pop and pseudo-classical rhythms of the 88. He looks like he's genuinely thrilled with the splendors of New York (in color and CinemaScope) and confident that his letter of introduction will land him a job with Leo Reisman orchestra at the old Central park Casino.
It's thought the intervention of Kim Novak, who shows more and more authority in her picture assignments, that the position in the band is his. The Novak-Power match builds tenderly-there's no hard courtin' or turbulent male-femme back and forth. Carefully established are the backgrounds. She as the high society type and he as the son of a tailor.
Sets and settings make for more plusses. Manhattan of a generation ago is colorfully reproduced and observers needn't be too vintage to go nostalgic over the Casino as it's shown here and the Waldorf's Empire Room at the time Duchin again took the spotlight upon retiring from naval service.
Story is given well-rounded development. It has substance as it unreels from the passing of Miss Novak, which meant the end of an ecstatic marriage for Power, the latter's shunning of his surviving son, the war, Power's introduction to and animosity toward the British girl, incongruously named Chiquita, who cares for the boy. And then the friendship that builds between the latter, affectionately played by Rex Thompson, and Power, the second marriage, the shocking news about the leukemia affliction and, finally, Power's passing from the scene in a four-handkerchief climax.
James Whitmore, Sheperd Strudwick, Frieda Inescort, Gloria Holden and Larry Keating all register fine in subsidiary but important parts. Newcomer Victoria Shaw, Power's second wife, comes across with particular effectiveness, showing understanding of the role and executing it with proper feeling.
Sound track, as before noted, is heavy with Cavallaro and this makes for agreeable listening plus exploitation possibilities via the obvious tieins with the album reprises already on the market. Music supervision, camera work and technical credits match the top-caliber quality of Wald's production.
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June 22, 1956; By Bosley Crowther
The potency of popular music as a stimulant to sentimental moods and as lachrymal inspiration in times of poignancy is played to a fare thee well (and then some) in Columbia's new color film, The Eddy Duchin Story, which came to the Music Hall yesterday.
Most of Mr. Duchin's famous numbers, including his familiar theme, the Chopin Nocturne in e flat, are used (and used again) in this tragedy-laden biography of the popular pianist who spanned the Nineteen Thirties and Forties as the leader of an elegant dance band.
There are Body and Soul, Manhattan, You're My Everything, Let's Fall in Love, Sweet Sue, Whispering-a whole repertory from those years. And, as played by Carmen Cavalaro, who recorded the piano score, they constitute the most appealing and emotionally effective content of this film.
For the simple fact is that the story-at least, the fictional story-of Mr. Duchin's life is a grimly determined heartbreaker with little respite from the cold breath of doom. Barely has Mr. Duchin, played by Tyrone Power, arrived in NY, a hopeful yokel, than disappointment dogs his path. He doesn't get the job with Leo Riesman's Central park Casino band that he had confidently expected would be waiting. He is saved by the bell-and a girl.
And he has barely married this lady-Marjorie Oelrichs, whom Kim Novak plays-while a chill wind blows through their apartment, forecasting the approach of death. Sure enough, the wife dies at great length, a few hours after she has given birth to a son, and Mr. Duchin goes into a state of mourning that apparently lasts for several years.
Doom is still blowing its cold breath. Mr. Duchin has barely squared with his son, now a 12 year-old, played by Rex Thompson, than a strange ailment strikes his hand. And he has barely fallen in love with Chiquita, an English girl played by Victoria Shaw, than the off-screen doctors tell him he has but a short while to live.
In outline, this gives the true story of Mr. Duchin's life, but somehow Samuel Taylor, author of the screen play, overstressed that element of doom. Sadness flows in this picture like molasses pouring out of a jug, and the excellent music is used to emphasize it in the old-fashioned vein of "Hearts and Flowers." Even a beautiful sequence of pictures showing Miss Novak and Mr. Power in Central Park-the epitome of young lovers-has them wandering in the rain, with "I'll Take Romance" in the background. You?ll start crying right there, if you are prone.
Withal, director George Sidney has worked out some exquisite scenes that have fine imagery and feeling in color and on the CinemaScope screen. For instance, there is one in which the hero informs leader of one band by playing to her along in the dim Casino "You're My Everything." And there is a wonderful bit of poignant humor when he, in the Pacific during the war, comes across a battered piano and plays "Chopsticks" on it with a little Filipino boy.
Mr. Power is very stalwart as Duchin, and he fingers the piano well. Miss Novak is slumberous but lovely as his first wife, and Miss Shaw is as crisp and attractive as a new $20 bill. It is too bad that Master Thompson is somewhat mawkish as Duchin's son, but James Whitmore serves as solid ballast in a conventional good-old-Charlie role.
A strong taste for sentimentality should be nicely gratified by this film. Otherwise, it should satisfy the choosy with its abundance of richly-played old tunes.
Duchin Story at the Music Hall
NEW YORK POST, Friday June 22, 1956
The Eddy Duchin Story, biography of the famed pianist and society orchestra leader, has been filmed by Columbia in Cinemascope Technicolor and is now the screen attraction at the Radio City Music Hall.
Tyrone Power plays the late lamented musician, Kim Novak is seen as the former Marjorie Oelrichs, who married Duchin and died after the birth of their son and Victoria Shaw, Australian actress making her American movie debut, has the role of the second wife, Chiquita.
Lovely to See, Listen To
Staged in new York, the film Is lovely to look at, and filled with wonderful music, it is lovely to listen to, bringing back pleasant memories mingled with a little sadness of a past era of outstanding musicians and great orchestras. Among the best was Eddy
Duchin, whose magic piano playing contributed to our pleasure and appreciation of real talent.
In Duchin's life, success and sorrow walked hand in hand. Giving a full account of the tragic phase, the film will evoke enough tears to flood the Music Hall and vicinity. Factual as it is, 'twould have been better if some of the sorrowful details had been scissored, thereby cutting down running time under the two hours and three minutes length.
But It Isn't Tyrone
Tyrone Power, having practiced on a dummy keyboard seven hors a day for three months under the direction of Nat Brandwynne, gives the impression that he is playing the piano with the skill and technique of the musician he is representing. But it is another great pianist, Carmen Cavallero, that audiences will be hearing from the films' sound track.
Musical selection that ranges from "Chopsticks" to Chopin's "E Flat Nocturne," include such favorites as "Manhattan," "Exactly Like You," "Sunny Side of the Street," "Will You Love Me in December as You Did in May," "Body and Soul," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Whispering," "Brazil." and "You're my Everything."
Gives a sincere portrayal of a sensitive man, who takes success in his stride, loves deeply but who is so embittered by grief that he makes himself, his son and other close to him most unhappy until he finally comes out of the shell he built around himself.
Kim Novak plays Marjorie Oelrichs with dignity and is beautiful to look at. Victoria Shaw's characterization of Chiquita is crisp and direct and she, too, is a beauty. James Whitmore is competent as Lou Sherwood, Rex Thompson, as Eddy's son Peter at 12, is convincing as a son who resents his father's negligence and is slow to be won over by him.
IRENE THIRER'S SCREEN VIEWS
Duchin Story Told at the Music Hall
New York Post, Friday June 22, 1956
The sweet and sad, almost-true tale of an ill-fated talented young American musician-his life and loves-brings The Eddy Duchin Story to the Music Hall's screen in Columbia's painstaking and nostalgic production starring Tyrone Power with the help of beautiful blond Kim Novak
and another equally lovely lady, Victoria Shaw.
Eddy Duchin was a pianist purveyor of contemporary tunes and he also syncopated the classics for popular appeal. Chopin's Nocturne in E Flat was his theme song. As Power personifies him in action and at the keyboard (with Carmen Cavallaro actually doing the slick piano recordings of numerous hit songs and dance tempos), he is buoyant, sensitive and sorrowing. We can't recall when Power last gave so inspired a performance, even when the lines and situation which confront him are of such personal nature that the cameras seem to intrude. How, indeed, did Leo Katcdher, who wrote the full and warm original story, and Sam Taylor, who fashioned the screenplay, know in exact detail what transpired in the boudoir of the Duchins penthouse apartment? It's hardly likely that anybody around could have told them.
This, however, must represent a reasonable, factual idea of things, because true events do not contradict the assumptions. A real deviation from the news accounts of the REAL people, however, is that Duchin's first wife, the lovely Marjorie Oelrichs as interpreted with fine depth by exquisite Kim), is reared, according to script, by her aunt and uncle. Newspaper clips deny this.
The film begins with a close-up of a newspaper headline, Lindy Lands, so we who remember it recall that it was 1927. Eddy Duchin, schooled in Boston to be a pharmacist, has renounced his degree's calling to play piano professionally. With the enthusiasm and exuberance of youth, he come to New York ("I'm going to knock this town on its ear once I get stared") and is lucky enough-it's a fluke-to get a chance to play fill-in music at the Central park Casino. He performs for the social set, which includes Marjorie Oelrichs, and for civil dignitaries, who include Mayor Walker. When band leader Leo Reisman goes off on tour, Duchin, at the age of 26, is given the opportunity to fill his shoes. And his career is made. Miss Oelrichs, influential in social circles (although she is working girl who presides over an interior decorating shop), helps make it possible, and then she falls madly in love with him?and vise versa and they are married.
Tragedy stalks a year later with her death. In his complete collapse, he shuts his child, Peter, out of his life. But there comes a time when father and son are tenderly reunited. Only, this isn't to be for long. He returns from naval duties to meet the charming Chiquta Wenn, who has been companion without pay to Peter (played gravely an intelligently by Rex Thompson) for quite a while; he falls in love with her and marries her with the knowledge, his and hers, that he is soon to die of leukemia. It happens when he is 41. Director George Sidney offers a tear inducing final close-up which is not really a death scene, but a meaningful suggestion of such.
So, in Eddy Duchin's life, there was brief happiness and much applause. The scenarists an director have captured effectively such little things as Marjorie's love of violets, her fear of wind, transmitted to her son (if this indeed be true); the gentle affection lavished upon son and father b the tranquil Chiquita; at the tempo of the time embracing about 15 years before the pianist's untimely passing. Views of the Central park Casino are interesting.
Warm, Tinged With Sadness
Music Hall Drama on Piano Stylist Has Wealth of Popular Numbers
NEW YORK JOURNAL-AMERICAN, Friday June 22, 1956
The Eddy Duchin Story, at the Music Hall, is more than just a screen biography devised to introduce a collection of nostalgic some numbers while the picture highlights a wealth of popular music, it offers at the same time a moving, sensitively handled drams.
Starring Tyrone Power and Kim Novak, both of whom bring warmth to a story tinged with sadness, the film traces the tragically short career of the late, great piano stylist. It is unfolded in a mood and against backgrounds that convey an authentic feeling of the New York for the 20's, and the illusion is further heightened by a score of Duchin piano favorites expertly recorded on the sound track by Carmen Cavallero.
Lavishly produced in Technicolor and Cinemascope, the script starts his story when Duchin arrived in Manhattan from Boston, wide-eyed and eager to get a job with Leo Reisman's orchestra at the old Central Park Casino. It tells of his romantic meeting with and marriage to socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, and it shows how with her help he skyrocketed to frame and fortune.
Them in one tear inducing episode after another, it depicts the death of his wife shortly after she'd given birth to their baby, Peter, his years of despondency which were lightened temporarily when he became reunited with his son and following his second marriage, his untimely death as the result of leukemia.
Power gives an excellent interpretation of his role; even his fingering and manner at the keyboard, when he's supposedly playing the piano, are convincing. Miss Novak is lovely as Marjorie Oelrichs, and Australia's Victoria Shaw makes an effective debut in the role of the second Mrs. Duchin.
Young Rex Thompson, as the 10 year old Peter, scores in his scenes with Power, and a well chosen competent supporting cast includes James Whitmore, Shepperd Strudwick, Frieda Inescort, Gloria Holden and Larry Keating.
The new stage show produced by Leon Leonidoff presents a colorful salute to Canada under the title of "Hi Neighbor!" The ballet corps, in gold costumes, unfurl giant silk banner as they dance before huge maple leaf emblems; the Glee Club singers appear as Hudson Bay fur trappers; specialties are provided b comedian will Mahoney and harmonica virtuoso Richard Hayman, and the Rockettes, featuring scarlet coats and pert campaign hats, do a new march tap routine as royal Canadian Mounties.
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Release Date: March 25, 1957
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
April 18, 1956
By Joe Pihodna
The uncompromisingly tough decision of the skipper of a lifeboat who decides to jettison the weak and unfit in order to keep the boat afloat makes for an exciting and thought-provoking screen play at the Paramount. According to an epilogue, the incident is based on facts. At any rate, the Columbia presentation relates how twenty-seven survivors in an clinging to a captain's gig which is meant to hold eight or nine persons fare under hazardous condition in cramped quarters.
Under these highly melodramatic conditions, there is a good deal of highly melodramatic and sometimes grating acting. Nevertheless, Tyrone Power as the executive officer placed in command after the death of the captain has a role actors dream about and to his credit he manages to keep the portrait within credible limits The chances to mangle the role of man who plays God in an eighteen foot boat are broad enough. Mr. Power takes command of himself and turns in a fine performance.
As the area of action is limited, the camera is in turn focused on a variety of characters who react differently under stress. there's the society girl who is flip; the retired general who knows more than the captain, and assorted scoundrels biding their time to disrupt the economy of refuge.
The dying deck officer, played by Lloyd Nolan, is the one who sets the pattern after he flings himself into the sea to lighten the boat. Before he goes, he warns that the boat, shipping water in a calm sea, is certainly doomed in a storm because of overloading. Here the skipper makes his grim decision. The woman with the crushed ribs, the sailor with broken wrists, the aged opera singer, the woman with a gangrenous arm and a sea-sick playwright who cannot row are ordered into the sea.
Most of the remaining survivors are in open rebellion against the captain. But he does pull them through a storm because the boat is now manageable and may be rowed toward a land fall. They are properly grateful for being saved until a ship is sighted. Then they turn on the captain denying any part in the abandonment of the weak and sick.
"Abandon Ship!" makes it abundantly clear that all twenty-seven persons would have perished in the storm. The captain?s decision saved the twelve who fitted comfortably in the small craft. The epilogue also states that the captain was tried for murder and served a six month sentence. the question of ethics involved may hold the interest of the moviegoer. It is certainly fascinating to imagine oneself in the position of the captain.
Moira Lister is the spoiled but cool rich girl who stands by the captain after it is all over. Mai Zetterling is the competent nurse who is in love with the captain. They and other supporting players, including James Hayter, serve conscientiously in minor roles.
April 18, 1957; By A. H. Weiler
The terrible responsibilities of command and the struggle of men against the sea are amply and sometimes stirringly portrayed in Abandon Ship! which was launched at the Paramount yesterday.
Although this storm-tossed saga cannot avoid repetitive effects since it is almost whole set in a lifeboat bobbing in the lonely south Atlantic, it manages to be dramatic in word and deed over most of its perilous route. The trials of human flotsam emerge as a grim but absorbing adventure.
Richard Sale, who wrote and directed (from a true story, according to an announcement by an off-screen narrator), has handled his classic themes professionally. There are only twenty-seven survivors of the Crescent Star, a luxury liner carrying 1,076 passengers on a round-the-world cruises that was exploded by a derelict mine. The lifeboat is equipped,
at best, to hold fourteen. The mortally wounded captain hands the command to his executive officer (Tyrone Power), who now is faced with the awesome problems of command decisions-obviously and literally life-and-death decisions.
Mr. Sale wastes no time on false heroics or flamboyant dialogue. Although the story has its share of melodramatics, they are not overdone. Mr. Power is warned by another dying officer (Lloyd Nolan), that he must jettison the weak and unfit survivors, heartless as that sounds, in order to save the rest. With food and water at a minimum and a storm brewing, Mr. Power begins the horrible job of personally choosing and casting overboard the injured, including women, and the useless, including an aged opera diva, a playboy and an esthetic playwright.
Since Mr. Power forces his survivors to carry out his commands at gunpoint, moral issues and tempers are raised. Has he this right even under maritime law? As soon as his terrified and irate passengers ride out the storm they have nothing but thanks for his accomplishment. But once they know they are to be rescued they sullenly castigate him. All but his fianc饠(Mai Zetterling), the nurse aboard the lifeboat, who declares that his deeds were horrible but necessary and right.
Mr. Power, favored by the camera throughout, acquits himself nobly. He makes a strong, efficient and genuinely human leader, who adequately projects the tortures of his awful assignment. Unfortunately, Mr. Sale has not drawn full characterizations from the rest of the cast but there are convincing, if brief, portrayals.
Include among these the delineations of Miss Zetterling; Mr. Nolan; Moira Lister, as a rich but understanding society woman who enviously eyes Mr. Power; James Hayter, as a Cockney cook; Marie Loh, as the diva; and Stephen Boyd, as a tough junior officer.
Abandon Ship, was filmed in England under the aegis of Mr. Power's own independent company, Copa Production. Mr. Power, Mrs. Sale and their associated may not have created a masterpiece but they have come up with a thoughtful and often gripping drama that mirrors man at his best and worst.
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The Sun Also Rises
Release Date: August 23, 1957
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
* * *
August 24, 1957
Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" has taken on a certain plushiness in Darryl F. Zanuck's hands, but it is good to be able to say that it has gotten essentially an honest, undeviating treatment. I will go further. Despite Mr. Zanuck's Venetian eye for sensuousness of background, his "The Sun Also Rises" is a good film version of the Hemingway opus. That mad quintet, Jake, Mike, Bill, Cohn and Brett, who took their places so long ago as symbols of the so-called "lost" generation come reasonably alive in a much tenser and exciting film than one might have expected.
That wandering and uncertain quintet develops its frustrations to a high pitch in Mr.
Zanuck's Pamplona (actually only in part the Spanish city, from Mr. Zanuck took his cameras to a Mexican town for much of this footage). Jake, the man made impotent by a war wound, tries earnestly once more to avoid his particular frustration; his inaccessibility, making him the one man in the world she cannot have, makes him irresistible to Brett and sends her in frantic search of unsatisfactory substitutes; Cohn, suffering from his illusions as much as the others from their disillusionment, lets himself be drawn into ultimate violence; Mike, the Englishman, gets drunk; and Bill tries innocently enough to stave off destruction by means of simple good nature.
It was not an easy book to film. It is no mystery why none before Mr. Zanuck ever attempted it. So much of its power lies in what is not said or done directly. Its points are made by inference. the main elements of the plot are not so much positive as negative. The only aggressive character, the only man who does something about what is troubling him, is Cohn, but he gets nowhere. Under the circumstances Mr. Zanuck has performed a very difficult task superbly.
The beginning is a bit long owing to over-definition of Jake's impotence. the flashback sequence relating his hospital experience does not seem necessary, but certainly Mr. Zanuck was not hedging here; if there is a fault it is one of overstatement, certainly not artistic dishonesty. there is also a let-down after the final scenes in Pamplona. But the action in that Spanish city is cunningly contrived and mounts to a crushing scene of tragedy against the flaring fiesta atmosphere of the bull fights.
If as the psychologists and sociologists would tell us, romance requires by definition a sense of frustration, then Mr. Hemingway's novel is the very essence of romance. It is a study in the unattainable. None of the people in it ever attain what they most want; they make it a point, in fact, to want what they can't get.
Mr. Zanuck, being essentially a purveyor of satisfactions, could not be expected to keep forever to such a stark thesis, and so many be forgiven for letting the end of the movie at least hint that Brett and Jake may ultimately work things out. Perhaps Mr.
Zanuck is less the romanticist for that reason, but then he can provide his suggestion of optimism and still leave in his audience a sense of unfulfillment, for one essential feature of any movie is the absolutely physical inaccessibility of its Ava Gardner or Tyrone Power.
Miss Gardner is as lush as any of Mr. Zanuck's settings as the indefatigable and frantic Brett; her entrance into the Parisian cafe for the dancing, the jazz band giving her a chord, is as effective as a movie entrance could be. She is beautiful and supple in this role. Mr. Power is handsome and dignified Jake, not quite as insistently masculine as Hemingway's character suggests but manful enough in his struggles with himself and his friends.
Mel Ferrer does an excellent job as Robert Cohn, trying in his lean, tense fashion to seem as casual and undaunted as those about him. Errol Flynn is an excellent Mike Campbell, the Englishman engaged to Brett and hard put to it to accept the presence of Cohn's calf-like adoration for her. Eddie Albert, it will probably be no surprise to learn, is perfect in the role of Bill Gorton, Jake's boozy but gentle minded friend, always ready for trout fishing or bull baiting, as the case may be......
* * *
Despite certain limitations, the plushniess, for one, which has a tendency to soften the drama's edges, this is an excellent picture and a really fine, honest effort to deal with one of this century's best but cinematically more difficult literary classics. It out to be seen.
April 18, 1957; By Howard Thompson
In all probability, many bristling book-readers are going to march into the Roxy for the screen version of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises with a unanimous, grim conviction: it had better be good. It is.
Bravely tackling one of the most hallowed of all American novels, as his second independent project under the Twentieth Century-Fox banner, Darryl F. Zanuck has assembled a glitteringly spacious and beautiful background canvas, on location in France, Spain and Mexico.
This visual magnificence, in CinemaScope and color, frames a picturesque cast, headed by Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner and Mel Ferrer, that looks hand-picked down to the last bit "extra." Director Henry King has staged a personalized, handsome big "show," from Peter Viertel's admirable faithful script, which slices a few corners and minor characters from the source.
While the result is emotionally intriguing, rather than powerful, it remains, nevertheless, Hemingway all the way.
Outwardly, the author's revered "lost" American expatiates of the post-war mid-Twenties have change little in some thirty years. Jake-good old Jake Barnes, played by Mr. Power is the same cynical Paris Herald writer, the platonic soul-mate of the disillusioned Brett Ashley, portrayed by Miss Gardner, who is trailed, in turn, by their hanger-on crony, Robert Cohn, played by Mr. Ferrer.
Their aimless Parisian prowlings in a superbly atmospheric assortment of vintage bars, hotels and thoroughfares immediately convey Mr. Hemingway's unyielding tone of futility. These rather stilted early scenes, unfortunately, are full of endless, if incomparable, talk.
What amounts to an adult, lifelike charade suddenly bursts forth with clanging, hypnotically stunning close-up of a Spanish bullfighting town in full traditional fiesta blast. Here, in Pamplona (adroitly juxtaposed with additional Mexican footage), the crossed tensions of the trio begin to attain real urgency.
The derelicts, by now linked up with Bill Gorton (Edie Albert) and Mike Campbell, Brett's "fiancee," (Errol Flynn), are so smoothly piloted through the fascinating little town by Mr. King that their child-like abandon, their snapping nerves and Brett's climactic dalliance with a young toreador all come across with keen-edged credibility.
We doubt, indeed, if Mr. Hemingway's pen, or anybody's, could improve some occasional camera magic: the huge arena itself; Jake's poster-lined stalk through the streets; Brett's first, fleeting glimpse of her young quarry, Romero (perfectly personified by Robert J. Evans?let's forget his Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand Faces).
The picture needs, and lacks, just one great performance, although Mr. Power is certainly a professionally convincing hero. Mr. Ferrer is fine, considering the slight sketchiness of his motivations. A grinning, portly Mr. Flynn and the jovial Mr. Albert fit their roles like gloves.
As for Brett, that tarnished beauty loved for years by so many male readers (including this one), Miss Gardner, with an occasional look of real, fleeting anguish, excellently pegs her predatory aspects. She simply doesn't, or can't, convey the lady's innate, poignant air of breeding, for all Brett's promiscuity. Sorry, Miss Gardner.
Again, thirty years is a long time between mediums. In an age of galvanized tourism, short on introspection, this picture deals with some non-to-youthful barflys who might be called merely ideal, rather than (as they insist) "lost." But if Mr. Hemingway's book seems somewhat of a curio on the screen, blame it on the respect, intelligence and technical splendor that roving Hollywood has accorded a classic.
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August 28, 1957; By Chan.
In undertaking the transmutation into screen fare of the novel which first escalatored Ernest Hemingway to renown, Darryl F. Zanuck faced problems which might have given pause to a producer less intrepid, experienced, incisive. The 3o-year-old book dealt with expatriates of World War I's "lost generation" careening around Europe. Since, there's been another global war much more vast, other "lost generations." Zanuck wisely surrounded Sun with constellations of marquee - weighty stars-Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert-and obtained excellent locales, provided a lush production background. It remained for Peter Viertel's screenplay to bring the novel's colorful crop of characters to life as had Hemingway's book. Offsetting the film's many production plus marks is fact Viertel, while hewing to the plot line of the book, loses along the way the characterizations and the all-important mood Hemingway had conjured up. Chances of really big box-office are fair, and can be improved with emphasis on cast names and-particularly-on the hook that is provocative and certain to arouse talk and consequent b.o. reaction.
Zanuck never has been daunted by an offbeat theme, and he knows how to utilize such opportunities (witness Pinky). In light of the film industry's new found "freedom" of expression under the revised Production Code, Zanuck doesn?t gloss over the key plot twist that Power plays an impotent newspaperman in frustrated love with Ava Gardner, who plays Lady Brett Ashley. But the script drags along their "love affair" instead of propelling it. Thus the yarn never comes off either as a love story or definitely study of the "lost generation."
Too, performances are mixed. Power is on the wooden side, his character never whole believable. Miss Gardner turns in a far more sympathetic and credible performance. Mel Ferrer never quite achieves the hangdog aspect required of his role, but Errol Flynn and Eddie Albert turn in topflight characterizations as drunken members of the gamboling expatriates. Flynn registers especially well, for it's an offbeat part for him. Among featured players, Robert Evans as the bullfighter, Juliette Greco as a Parisian prostie, and Gregory Ratoff as a gadabout count are standout.
Director Henry King, saddled with an overlong and never sparkling script, could instill little vital life into much of the pic, and many of the conversational scenes seemed to lag. However, when King could swerve from the script, his inventive direction is marked. The two high points of the production-for excitement, clever staging and visual delight-are a Spanish fiesta and bullfight sequences. King extracted the ultimate, deftly catching his cast in the heart of all the action, thus achieving notable results. Unfortunately, these scenes are only incidental to the plot.
Leo Tover's color photography injects much excitement, and he made maximum use of the field-day opportunity afforded his lenses in Paris, Spain and Mexico. Other back-of-the-camera credits are excellent right down the line-Hugo Firedhofer's score, the art direction of Lyle R. Wheeler and Mark Lee Scott, editing by William Mace.
Zanuck's overall reining of the production is obvious every frame; it is "big" in the biggest sense of the word. Too bad such general, top-tier production excellence couldn't have been extended to the more vital elements-the story-of the film.
AN ERA RECAPTURES ON THE ROXY SCREEN
Ernest Hemingway's post-World War I novel, The Sun Also Rises has been made for the first time, into a motion picture which is now on exhibition at the Roxy Theatre. When the novel was published in 1926, by a then unknown writer, it created a sensation. The frank material of the book was considered unfit for the screen. This year, however, Darryl Zanuck, formerly head of the 20th Century Fox studios, decided to defy convention and put it on film for his old company.
The picture recreates the fabulous twenties, an era that has been the subject of many novels and short stories, because the world at that time seemed to be whirling toward destruction and life was lived for the moment only.
It is also a faithful transference of novel into screen play, but the feckless characters in the light of the many suns that have risen and set since then, seem hardly worth presenting on the screen. Jake
Barnes, Lady Ashley and friends might have been better left interred within the covers of Hemingway's book.
A Thrilling Pageant
But aside from the unusual personal history and neurotic love affair, the film emerges as a beautiful, thrilling and colorful pageant, under the skillful direction of Henry King. The acting is first rate and the backgrounds are fascinatingly done. King has captured the sprit of the times and presents a segment of the Lost Generation, as Hemingway describes them, without sentimentality.
The scenes in Paris carry the flavor and apparent gaiety of the times and the Spanish fiesta at Pamplona has been made into an exciting, picturesque pageant, against which the most important part of the story is played. The Iruna Caf鬠the Montoya Hotel, the streets and alleys of Pamplona, and the bull ring are caught by the cameras with fine effect, as a corrida becomes the stage for ancient rites performed in the traditional manner.
Tyrone Power represents Jake Barnes. He is an American correspondent who, after the end of hostilities, recovers from a war wound that leaves him mutilated and unfit for marriage. He settles in Paris, where he meets again the Brett Ashley who?d nursed him in the Italina hospital.
She has deteriorated from a woman in love, to a hard-drinking nymphomaniac. An American girl, married to an Englishman who'd been killed in the war, Brett had fallen in love with Jake, only to be rejected by him. She has affairs with many men, but she keeps haunting Jake with her frustrated love for him. Tyrone does a good job in the role.
Ava Gardner, beautiful and appealing as ever, plays the alluring Brett with conviction. Mel Ferrer gives a sensitive performance of the love-hungry Robert Cohn, who follows Brett around like a faithful poodle and Errol Flynn is right as rain in the role of the hard-drinking, hard-up Englishman who believes Brett is about to marry him.
Eddy Albert, as Jake's writing friend, Gregory Ratoff, Juliette Greco, Marcel Dalio, Henry Daniell and Robert Evans help to make the film an interesting period piece. However, the love story is of such a clinical nature that it is hardly suitable as the basis of an entertaining film play.
Eleana Giusti, from Italy, is making her American debut on the Roxy theatre stage as the star of the new show, which also features Nicky Powers, Leslie Sang and Margaret Young in the revue called cafe Continental which the Rockettes do that fascinating precision dancing.
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Witness for the Prosecution
Release Date: November 27, 1957
March 2, 1955; By Gene.
A courtroom meller plays engagingly and building evenly to a surprising and arousing, albeit tricked-up, climax, Witness for the Prosecution has been transferred to the screen with competence. Arthur Hornblow's production has dramatic and melodramatic substance, figures to do firm business all around.
Prosecution is the Agatha Christie play which was a click on Broadway and, earlier, in London. The West End and Times Square runs clearly establish the property?s popular appeal and in this instance adept screen handling, plus the star names, adds to the values of the original.
In fashioning the screenplay, Billy Wilder and Harry Kurnitz strayed but little from the prototype except to introduce an added character, that of a private nurse. Why re-write a hit play? In line with this, however, it's recalled that Miss Chirstie's multiple-barreled, rapidly-fired ending came off as almost bewildering (at least such criticism was heard) and the picture's windup, which is substantially unchanged, likely may evoke that same comment.
But this is a minor reservation; it's an entertaining show.
Under Wilder's direction, Prosecution unfolds realistically, generating a quiet and steady excitement. The characters are believably participating in the Old Bailey murder trial and the few flashbacks and contemporary asides that round out the story. The plot always is in clear focus the moods and motivations correctly established.
Cleverly worked out is the story line which has defense attorney Charles Laughton, along with the audience, wholly convinced that the likeable chap played by Tyrone Power is innocent, that he couldn't have murdered the rich widow who had taken a fancy to him. A disturbing note, however, is the unexpected attitude taken by Power's wife, Marlene Dietrich, who, as it turns out, is not legally married to him and thus is not restrained from testifying against him.
Baffling, too, are the letters which Miss Dietrich has written to her "Beloved Max." Which serve to discredit her testimony and bring about the acquittal verdict. And along with it there is the doubt that has entered Laughton's mind, plus, indeed, the admission by Power that he actually committed the crime. This is part of the multi-faceted, quickly-sprung climax that clears up everything.
As per design, the audience is given a sense of participation, seeing the case as Laughton sees it, noting the trials' developments and verdict appear too pat, sharing the game doubts and, at the denouement, surprises.
Prosecution reproduction of the famous London court is done with remarkable conviction and the proceedings throughout have a genuine air.
Laughton, sage of the courtroom and cardiac patient who?s constantly disobeying his nurses orders about cigar-smoking and brandy-drinking, plays out the part flamboyantly and colorfully. His reputation for scenery chewing is unmarred via this outing; he's as robust as ever in making with the sarcasting cracks (the Wilder-Harry Kurnitz is well stacked with sharp dialog) and browbeating his nurse and his subordinates.
Power does a winning job as the ingratiating defendant who seems incapable of murder and Miss Dietrich is in good form, histrionically and physically, as the cause of much bafflement through the picture until the explanations are finally given. Elsa Lanchester measured up suitable as the irritating nurse.
Ian Wolfe, as Laughton's assistant; Henry Daniell, as a solicitor; John Williams, another barrister; Torin Thatcher, the probing prosecutor; Una O'Connor, the murdered woman's maid, and Philip Tongue, police inspector, all do credible work.
The black and white photography is top notch, editing contributes to the even pace, music and other credits all are commendable.
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February 7, 1958; By Bosley Crowther
For a courtroom melodrama pegged to a single plot device-a device that, of course, everybody promises not toe reveal-the Arthur Hornblow Jr. Film production of the Agatha Christie play Witness for the Prosecution comes off extraordinarily well. This results mainly from Billy Wilder's splendid staging of some splintering courtroom scenes and a first-rate theatrical performance by Charles Laughton in the defense-attorney role.
As a usual thing, these trial dialogues about where somebody was and what took place on the night of something or other become increasingly hard to take as witness follows witness and the examiners probe for key details. The viewer is likely to grow restive waiting for something to happen on the screen.
And it is true that the screenplay of this one, which Mr. Wilder and Harry Kurnitz have prepared, puts forth most of its helpful information is back-and-forth dialogue.
Except for two hurried flashbacks-the 1st of which amiable shows how an English chap on trial for murder met the widow he is accused of bumping off and the second of which shows in modest detail how he met his German wife-virtually everything happens in the Old Bailey or in the chambers Mr. Laughton occupies.
Never mind, Mr. Wilder sees to it, as the murder trial drags along and the wife, in defiance of tradition, appears as witness against her own, husband, that there's never a dull or worthless moment. It's all parry and punch from the word "Go!," which is plainly announced when the accused man is brought to Mr. Laughton at the beginning of the film. And the air in the courtroom fairly crackles with emotional electricity, until that staggering surprise in the last reel. Then the whole drama explodes.
It's the staging of the scenes that is important in this rapidly moving film, which opened yesterday at both the Astor and the Plaza Theatres. It's the balancing of well-marked characters, the shifts of mood, the changes of pace and the interesting bursts of histrionics that the various actors display.
Tyrone Power has his ups as the accused man, Marlene Dietrich hits her high points as his wife and Torin Thatcher is awesomely forensic as the bewigged and begowned prosecutor. Philip Tonge makes a shrewd police inspector, Francis Compton is a finely learned judge and Una O'Connor is in for one great bit as a Scottish maid in the witness box. Henry Daniel as Mr. Laughton's solicitor and John Williams as his fellow-barrister are great in the wry, crisp tradition of the English inns-of-court.
But it is Mr. Laughton who runs away with the show-he and his wife, Elsa Lanchester, in an added role. Allowed by Mr. Wilder and Mr. Kurtnitz to be afflicted with a heart that's not too strong and with a nurse who is shrill and tireless in trying to keep him away from brandy and cigars, Mr. Laughton adds a wealth of comical by-play to his bag of courtroom tricks. A certain famous British Prime Minister has plainly inspired his artful airs and gravelly voice.
And Miss Lanchester is delicious as that maidenly henpecking nurse.
The added dimensions of Mr. Laughton bulge this black-and-white drama into a hit.
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