Parues dans le
NEW YORK TIMES
Écrites par Mordaunt Hall
sous la rubrique cinéma The Screen
(les critiques sont en anglais - the reviews are in english)
Malgré tous les efforts déployés pour rassembler les critiques produites sur les films avec Louise Brooks, il me fut impossible de mettre la main sur certains films.
L'appareil critique est tel que parut à lépoque. À quelques jours près de la sortie des films Pour protéger les innocents, aucune retouche grammaticale ne fut apportée. / These are the reviews that came out a couple of days after the original release - to protect the innocent, not one word has been grammaticaly corrected.
Le chiffre précédent le titre de l'uvre indique la chronologie des films de Louise Brooks. Exemple: " (3) A Social Celebrity" est son troisième film. / The number preceding the title of the film shows the chronology of the films made by Louise Brooks. Exemple: "A Social Celebrity" is her third film.
----- Le [ [
The Beauty Show
(2) THE AMERICAN VENUS, with Esther Ralston, Lawrence Gray, Ford Sterling, Fay Lanphier, Louise Brooks, Edna May Oliver, Kenneth MacKenna, William B Mack, George de Carlton, W.T. Benda, Ernest Torrence and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., adapted from a story by Townshend Marton, directed by Frank Tuttle; overture, "Pique Dame"; "Winter Sports at St. Moritz"; John Murray Anderson's "The Garden of Kama"; "Fashion Revue," staged by Mr. Anderson; Eddie Elkins and his "melody mixers." At the Rivoli. [sortie: le25 janvier 1926 à New York (sept bobines). Le film est aujourd'hui perdu à l'exception du fragment technicolore et les 2 bandes publicitaires. - Ronald]
The enormity of the tragedy that burst into the life of Miss Alabama, one of the characters in a picture entitled "The American Venus," can be appreciated by every woman who is not color blind, for this stunning girl, a contestant in a beauty show, receives from her home town a white dress instead of one of the shade suited to her eyes and hair. It looked like life's darkest moment to Miss Alabama., when out of the blue there came an angelic blonde, with cherry lips and turquoise eyes, who offered the despondent maiden a gown of metallic cloth that was just the very thing Miss Alabama needed. The girl who brushed away the tears on the Southern girl's cheeks was Mary Gray, who also aspired to win the coronet of Miss America. She hailed from Centreville, N.J., where her father in off moments from petty gambling indulged in the business of making complexion creams.
As Fay Lanphier won the coveted title of Miss America last year, it was reasonable to suppose that some way had to be found for her, as Miss Alabama, to defeat Mary Gray, the heroine of this narrative. It is accomplished by a prolonged automobile race, and in the end the fair Mary cannot compete because her head is wrapped in bandages.
This is an elaborate production, with a hit and miss story. Some of the photographic skill in the colored sequences is most ingenious. There is an artisrtic prestidigitator who has a touch of Satan in his make-up. He is able to produce the beautiful girls from behind his cloak with the red silk lining.
Frequently this film slumps into the veriest buffoonery, with automobiles and motorcycles escaping a crash by hair's breadth, and also in the chapter in which Ford Sterling has a busy time avoiding his wife after chatting with candidate fir the title of Miss America. Mr. Sterling gives a better performance than his part deserves.He portrays Horace Niles, a successful manufacturer of beauty cream, who is the rogue of the story.
Esther Ralston, who was charming as Mrs. Darling in the film conception of "Peter Pan," lends her attractive countenance to this offering. As Mary Gray she has to be impulsive and somewhat dense. But, after all, there is no use taking this story seriously, as it is something that might have been written as the production was being filmed. The photographic result is diverting, especially to the gallery gods. Possibly nobody in Atlantic City would have intentionally avoided the beautiful Amerivan girls, but if one of them had started to tell the narrativeon which this film is constructed any listener might have rushed away to Atlantic City railroad station before the perfect female finished the second chapter.
Another John Murray Anderson offering, "The Garden of Kama," based on Lawrence Hope's Hindu love lyrics, is the stellar stage contribution. It is beautifully costumed, but it might have been more effective if the backdrop had given the effect of a night in lieu of being jet black. The elucidators of this fantasy could make it more interesting if their enunciation were clearer. (Published on January 26, 1926)
The handsome barber
(3) A SOCIAL CELEBRITY, with Adolphe Menjou, Louise Brooks, Elsie Lawson, Roger Davis, Hugh Huntley, Chester Conklin, Freeman Wood, Josephine Drake and Ida Waterman, adapted from a story by Monte M. Katterjohn, directed by Malcolm St. Clair; overture, Robespierre; Puck and White, a phonofilm; The Clarion Trumpeters; Henry B. Murtaugh, organist; Frank Cambrias offering, A Bird Fantasy; Rough and Ready Romeos, an Aesop Fable. At the Rivoli. [sortie le 29 mars 1926 (six bobines) / le film est perdu - Ronald]
A gentle strain of pathos worthy of O. Henry accompanies the adroitly-directed and skillfully acted comedy in A Social Celebrity, the new picture at the Rivoli in wich Adolphe Menjou is starred. Curiously enough, that clever comedian, Chester Conklin, who hitherto has beeen conspicous in low farces, furnishes the sentimental note; his imposing mustache and familiar spectacles help in his excellent characterization of an old barber in a small town who finds that his business drops to nothing after his romantic son leaves for New York.
New York gains its place in the sun as a film city in this production, for besides other views there are Central Park, The PLaza Hotel and the Park lane, an agreeable change from Hollywoods low buildings and wide thoroughfares.
Mr. Menjous part is that of Max Haben, the son of John Haben. Mr. Conklin officiates in this role of the father, who when nobody is looking deceitfully uses a safety razor to shave himself. Maxs ability as a barber is not confined to male chins and haircuts, for he also known as the best bobber in town. Before the young man leaves for Gotham, the shops shelves are filled with shaving mugs, but soon after his departure these steady customers dwindle gradually until the old barber gazes mournfully at a solitary mug, and that is his own.
This light but pleasing story was adapted from one written by Monte M. Katterjohn. Soon after the preliminary scenes, a Mrs. Jackson-Greer is introduced. She is so struck by the way Max trims her hair that she suggests that he ought to go to New York and open a beauty shop. She even volounteers to help him. Now Max is very much in love with Kitty Laverne, who had left his fathers employ to go to New York. Therefore he decides to throw in his lot with others in a big city; but soon after his arrival he is forced to take employment in a busy barbers shop. He is sent one day to shave one of the guests in a room of a hotel, and this customer is surprised to see such a handsome barber, and he comments upon Maxs appearence while the barber is preparing his razor.
A telephone from a hostess announces to the man who is about to be shaved that Count Havare de Maxim cannot be present at a dinner the woman is giving, and the disapointed social light wants somebody urgently to take the Counts place. Hence Max is selected to go to the gathering arrayed in impeccable evening clothes topped off with a fur coat. He is introduced as a Count and instantly becomes very popular with the other guests. Unfortunately, Mrs. Jackson-Greer appears upon the scene, but after frowns and grimaces from Max she shakes his hand and informs her hostess that she has known the Count since he was quite a little shaver.
Malcolm St. Clair, who won his golden spurs as the director of The Grand Duchess and the Waiter, displays remarkable ability in portraying the toughts of his characters in a distinctly entertaining fashion, whether it is by means of gradual close-ups or scenes of a sensible length in which the players have ample time to register some particuliar individuality.
In the first chapter Mr. St. Clair takes things a little too slowly, but there is no gainsaying the fact that he elicits personality from the performers, which enhances the interest in the narrative. He makes, with the assistance of Mr. Conklins capable acting, a sound sympathetic character out the old father. He also inspires Mr. Menjou and Louise Brooks in their respective roles. Incidentally, Miss Brooks, who impersonates the heroine, sometimes reminds one a little of Beatrice Lillie.
Some of the subtitles in this feature are especially good. There are a couple of captions in French, supposed to be addressed to Max when he is posing as a French Count. He looks dumbfounded when a frenchman says to him:
Quen pensez vous de la crise financière, Monsieur?
Frank Cambria presents a rather interesting stage offering called, A Bird Fantasy. Another number on the surrounding-program is a DeForest Phonofilm entitled Puck and White. (Published on April 23?, 1926)
A Clattering Farce
(4) IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME, with W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring, William Gaston, Mary Foy, Mickey Bennett, Jack Luden and george Currie, written by Joseph P. McEvoy, directed by Edward Sutherland; Joseph Plunkett's, Mark Strand Frolic, with Charlotte and Barrah Minevitch, the "Remstreet Singers". At the Mark Strand. [sortie le 25 mai 1926 (sept bobines) / Le film est perdu à l'exception de quelques fragments - Ronald]
"It's the old army game," the pictorial attraction at the Mark Strand, featuring W.C. Fields, may not be a masterpiece of fun, but at any rate it is a subject that will create plenty of amusement. Mr. Fields is busy throughout the production largely in episodes borrowed from his stage skits. Perhaps it is not the acme of wit for a character to put on a morning coat and a silk hat over his pajamas, but nevertheless it has its degree of mirth. You will also find yourself smiling at Elmer Prettywillie's effort to get a few minutes of sleep while a baby succeeds in deterring him from such an idea. The child uses a mallet in one scene and a milk bottle in another. He makes sure that Mr. Fileds is not in the arms of Morpheous, and one gathers that the youngster's streneous efforts almost "put Mr. Prettywillie to sleep."
The narrative courses haltingly through this film: in fact one can't be quite certain what it's all about. It is a photoplay with merry moments, but whether they are part and parcel of any coherent yarn is a matter for debate. There are spots where Mr. Fields must get in his work and therefore the tale is put on one side.
At the outset, Mr. Fields is seen in bed. He is the impersonator of Prettywillie, a small-town drug store keeper, who encounters difficulties in the early morning without losing his patience. How was he to know that a woman had tried to mail a letter in a fire-alarm box? All he knows is that his drug store is suspected of being on fire. He busies himself serving ice cream and cold drinks to the firemen, and to get them out of the way he is impelled to go forth and pull the fire alarm again. Then, as luck has it, a small fire starts on his counter, not enough to worry anybody but a comedian. Prettywillie tries to extinguish the small blaze with all kinds of thingsand then he has suddenly the bright idea of shutting the lid of the cigar box and - out goes the fire. He opens the cigar box and carefully takes from it a lighted cigar.
Real estate enters into the so-called story, with a shell game as a side issue. Prettywillie, who is not one of the gullible persons, picks up two of the shells, under wich there is no pea, and he calmly points to the middle shell as the one he has mentally selected.
A woman known as Aunt Tessle, who is introduced in her boudoir, is described in anything but complimentary terms. The subtitle sets forth:
"One look at Aunt Tessie and the trains stop."
One is also informed that in this town April Fools' day is a local holiday, and judging by the persons who want to get rid of their money, the idea is not amiss.
Here Mr. Fields introduced on the screen the invasion of a wealthy man's lawn, the scattering of paper and the smashing of crockery and a clock. He has his comic automobile that almost falls to bits, and in an effort to get a mule to pull it he lights a fire under the animal. The wily animal from Missouri walks ahead a couple of paces, just far enough to permit the flames to set the old car in a blaze.
Mr. Fields's clever and energetic performance is helped along by the attractive Louise Brooks.
(5) THE SHOW-OFF, with Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson, Louise Brooks, Gregory Kelly, C. W. Goodrich, Claire McDowell and Joseph Smiley, adapted from George Kelly's play, directed by Malcolm St. Clair; overture, "Mignon"; "The Four Aristocrats," in vocal and instrumental syncopation; "Milady's Shawl," devised and staged by John Murray Anderson. At the Rivoli. [Sortie le16 août1926 (sept bobines) - Ron]
The picturization of George Kelly's sterling play, "The Show-Off," has, as one might suppose, lost a good deal in its transference to the screen. As it stands it is a sound film entertainment, despite the fact that the exigencies of picture-making have rendered it impossible to introduce the shadings and subtleties of the different characters. Sometimes it is much too farcical, and Ford Sterling, that veteran comedian who fills the rôle of Aubrey Piper, has a weakness for rolling his eyes and gesticulating, which causes one to think at times that persons to whom he is endeavoring to explain something must be deaf.
It was easy enough to picture a braggart, and they have accomplished this; but Malcolm St. Clair has failed to obtain the true nuances in any of the characters. Mrs. Fisher is just an old woman who resents Piper's intrusion. No attempt has been made to depict her as a garrulous creature who, even in tragic moments, finds her mind reverting to simple things. So far as the film possibilities are concerned, Mr. St. Clair has produced some excellent exterior scenes in Philadelphia, especially those of the crowds that run to see what damage has been done by Piper's automobile.
This picture elicited a steady wave of giggles and laughter, which is to be expected, as the actual nucleus of the narrative has great possibilities for fun. But when "The Show-Off" was presented on the stage it was alluded to in the program as a "comedy drama" and also as a "transcript of life."
Mr. St. Clair has inculcated a few sober stretches, but these linger only a brief period. Lois Wilson, as Amy Fisher, knows her Paris when it comes to frocks, And there is no sign of cheapness about her clothes. Even the cut of Mr. sterling's check suit obviously is the work of a good tailor, and yet he is supposed to be a railroad employe whose income is $30 a week.
The comedy, as one thinks of it in some films, is quite good. Mr. Piper is not only a self-satisfied, boastful person, but he is singularly demonstrative, and his greeting to Mr. Fisher goes through this performance three times and on each occasion it created much merriment in the theatre. His activities with his car were no less effective.
The acting laurels in this picture are won most decidedly by Gregory Kelly, who plays the minor part of Joe Fisher. In fact, Mr. Kelly's performance puts the work of the others in the shade. Louise Brooks, an emphatic type, with her dark hair and eyes and straight eyebrows, is bound to be noticed. Her histrionic efforts in this picture, however, are negligible.
A scenic film of Honolulu, known as "Honolulu Nights," is a splendid piece of work. John Murray Anderson's stage contribution, "Milady's Shawl," is a production of an artist, with its opulence of color and its charming ideas. (Published August 23, 1926)
Bankruptcy and Love.
(8) EVENING CLOTHES, with Adolph Menjou, Virginia Valli, Noah Beery, Louise Brooks, Lido Manetti and Andre Cheron, based on the play "The MAn in Evening Clothes," by Andre Picard and Yves Mirande, directed by Luther reed; overture, selections from "Faust"; "On the Volga," featuring the Kuban Cossack chorus; Jesse Crawford, organist; "Milady's Perfume," devised and staged by John Murray Anderson. At the Paramount Theatre. [dates de production: du 3 au 29 janvier 1927 / sortie le 19 mars 1927 (sept bobines) Le film est lui aussi perdu.- Ronald]
That leading screen apostle of suavity, Adolphe Menjou, is to be seen at the Paramount Theatre in a picture known as "Evening Clothes," an adaptation of the French farce-comedy, "The Man in Evening Clothes," in which the late Henry Miller appeared here in December, 1924.
With the aid of Mr. Menjou, Noah Beery Virginia Valli and Louise Brooks, Luther Reed, the director, hasproduced an amusing film from frothy mixture mixture dealing with the French bankruptcy laws, which permit the fortunate, or the unfortunate man, as the case may be, to be left with one suit of clothes, one bed and one chair. Mr. Reed is far more successful with a Parisian background than he was with one of London in the film version of "The Ace of Cads," or one of this city in his melodrama hailed as "New York." His direction of this new subject is smooth and even, without any extraneous cinematic effects.
In a short sequence Mr. Menjou is dressed in riding togs and wears a beard, but most of the time he is clean shaven, as usual, and is clad in a dress suit, which until he is caught in a rainstorm is as immaculate as that had only been worn for five minutes. Because the bailiff, Baron Lazarre, insists on taking his pearl stud, Lucien (M. Menjou) puts pencil marks on his shirt front to make up for the missing article.
Lucien is in turn deliberate, dazed and dejected, when he is hopeful of somebody else paying for his dinner. The individual upon whom he relies for the meal happens to be intensely interested in a gay Parisienne, and therefore Lucien is never quite sure what's going to happen. Even the friend lends him 1,000 francs, a fair creature, who has an amazing appetite, orders without any thought of the money involved. Lucien's wife, Germaine, has received three-quarters of his fortune, but she was never particularly proud of Lucien; that is, not until he acquires the veneer of a man of the world.
Miss Valli does not impress one as being quite the type for the character she impersonates, altough she is a competent player. Miss Brooks, with a change in her eyebrows and curly hair, is stunning. Mr. Beery, who is a blood-thirsty sergeant in "Beau Geste," and the Sheriff of Byloe County, Texas, in "The Rough Riders," in this presentation officiates as Baron Lazarre, the bailiff who has a sharp eye for feminine beauty. Mr. Menjou does very well by poor Lucien.
"Milady's Perfumes," another of John Murray Anderson's inspiring stage productions, needs only a spray of scents from the stage. The coloring and lightning of this offering are most effective. (Published on March 21, 1927)
(9) ROLLED STOCKINGS, with Louise Brooks, James Hall, Richard Arlen and David Torrence; from a story by Frederica Sangor, adapted by Percy Heath and Paul Gangelin, directed by Richard Rosson; "Alice the Whaler", an animated cartoon; Gertrude Lawrence in "bits from Charlot Revues"; "Traumerei," illustrated by "Robert and Clara Schumann." . At the Paramount. [dates de production: 4 avril au 5 mai 1927 / sortie le 18 juin 1927 (sept bobines) - le film est aussi perdu - Ron]
"Rolled stockings," at the Paramount this week, breezily defies tradition. It has two heroes, brothers, one sober, serious, hard-workinf, the other careless, gay, irresponsible. They love the same girl - and the happy-hearted ne'er-do-well wins. More than that, in a crisis involving his brother's honor and the victory of the college crew, he saves the day for both. But with no sober show of solemn virtue. He plays the hero with a smile. He is, in fact, a very human being. Im personated by James Hall he is also extremely likable. Louise Brooks, as the girl, is sufficient reason for everything he does.
The picture is about boys and girls in college, their capers, cavortings, jokes and jamborees. Fraternity initiations, dates, dances and a boat race supply its material. It moves along lightly, telling a story that now and then develops a real situation, yet never taking itself too seriously, never pulpiteering to preach a moral or expose anything. Apparently itis merely meant to be enjoyed by those looking for entertainment and coolness on a hot day.
Yesterday afternoon's audience seemed to think so, anyhow. They applauded at the hilarious scenes and responded with applauded to a stirring fight between the brothers.
Incidentally, the only rolled stockings in the film appear in a subtitle. So far as the story goes, they have nothing to do with the case.
Gertrude Lawrence, late of "Oh Kay," and a dancing, singing, talking company put on several numbers from the two Charlot Revues with which the public is likely to be pleased. They were, so far as represented by yesterday's crowd. (Published on July 19, 1927)
Don Juans of the Deep
(12) A GIRL IN EVERY PORT, with Victor McLaglen, Maria Casajuana, Louise Brooks, Sally Rand, Robert Armstrong, Natalie Joyce, Dorothy Mathews, Elena Jurado, William Demarest, Francis McDonald, Phalba Morgan, Felix Valle, Gretel Yoltz, Natalie Kingston and Caryl Lincoln; adapted from a story by J. B. McGuiness, directed by Howard Hawks; overture, Il Guarany; Tableaux Americana; Among my souvenirs, with Harold Van Duzee and Jeanne Mignolet; The Old Master, with Frederic Fradkin, Lillian La Tonge and others. At the Roxy Theatre. [sortie le 20 février 1928 (six bobines) - Ron]
Spike Madden is the name of a philandering ships mate in A Girl in Every Port, the picture now holding forth at the Roxy Theatre. Madden enjoys his periodical trips ashore; but he is quite perturbed, soon after this story opens, to learn that he has a rival, another man-about-the-Seven-Seas, who is impudently stealing the hearts and affection of Maddens girls. Spike discovers that this annoying individual is impelled to see that the young women of his choice wear his adopted crest-an anchor in a heart. Madden discovers this insigna either dangling from bracelets ot tattooed on the fair arms of the captivating creatures.
This much you learn in the initial chapter of A Girl in Every Port, and the incidents are set forth in a rollicking fashion with none other than the towering Victor McLaglen filling the part of Madden. And it strikes one that Mr. McLaglen would make a sound choice for Kiplings red-coated Lothario, who took his fun where he found it.
There are some witty titles attached to the various scenes and Howard Hawks, the director, not only depicts Madden looking up the addresses of fair creatures whom he has not seen for a year or so, but he also shows this mate at sea aboard a sailing vessel. Hence, you feel as though you breezed along with him from port to port.
Madden is surprised to discover that his Amsterdam girl has marriedand is the mother of three children. In Rio de Janerio he is exasperated at observing his rivals heart and anchor, and further South he realizes that it wont be long before he overtakes the other Don Juan of the deep. He does, but this fellow is undismayed. His name is Salami and, altough he is slightly smaller than Madden, he is proud of his coast-town affaires of the heart. As a warning to Madden, Salami lets Spike have a straight right to the jaw, which puts Mr. Madden on his back for more than the prescribed ten seconds. When Madden signifies his intention of chastising Salami, the police interfere, and consequently the rivals have to rout the officiers of the law. When the army is called out, both Salami and Madden have to surrender.
It is Madden who pays Salamis fine, not because he feels any love for Salami, but merely that he wants a chance to show Salami that he has a good strong fist. Mr. Madden spends a good deal of his time hoping, and when the two are in Marseilles it looks dark for Salami, but peace is declared when Madden dicovers that Salami has not tried to steal Marie, the French side-show performer.
Robert Armstrongs acting of the part of Salami is natural. He gives you a good idea of the fearlessness of the individual. Louise Brooks figures as the alluring brunette of Marseilles. Maria Casajuana is a girl in Buenos Aires. The Panama beauties are impersonated by Natalie Joyce, Dorothy Mathews and Elena Jurado. Sally Rand is the Bombay charmer and Natalie Kingston is the joy of the South Seas.
Among the Fox News subjects is the first of a series called, Moulders of Public Opinion. It shows Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, in his office and at home. There are also some interesting Movietone features, including one of General Lejeune making a short talk. The stage contributions include, Washington at Valley Forge and a colorful number entitled The Old Master. (Published on Febuary 20, 1928)
The Freight Hoppers
(13) BEGGARS OF LIFE, with Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Edgar Blue Washington, H. A. Morgan, Andy Clark, Mike Donlin, Roscoe Karns, Robert Perry, John Morris, George Kotsonaros, Jacques Chapin, Robert Brower and Frank Browniee, based on Jim Tullys tramp story, directed by William Wellman; Paul Ash, Lucien La Rue, Laura Lee, Ray Bolger and others in John Murray Andersons stage offering, Oh, Teacher. At the Paramount Theatre. [dates de production: 18 mai au 18 juin 1928 / sortie le 22 septembre 1928 (neuf bobines) / Les séquences parlées et la musique synchronisée ainsi que les effets sonores sont aujourd'hui disparus - Ron]
As the story was supplied by Jim Tully, who looks back with considerable pride upon the days he spent as a hobo, far more was to be expected from the picturization of his yarn, Beggars of Life, now on view at the Paramount Theatre. It is rather a dull and unimaginative piece of work, wich is largely confined to scenes of tramps hopping freight trains. Two of the characters, who have embraced the tough art of idelness, spend most of their time shielding the girl who, virtually in self-defense, has shot a man.
It is a picture that might have been infinitely better handled, for William Wellman, who is responsible for the direction, reveals but little intimate knowledge of his subject. One sees a spot where the indolent unwashed consort. It is aptly termed the jungle. One also hears Walace Beery as Oklahoma Red, through the medium of Vitaphone, refer to his companions as jungle buzzards, but in the final analysis the film gives one no absorbingly interesting incidents connected with the hoboes existence.
Before the release of this production the makers were quite enthusiastic over the idea of Mr. Beery singing a song that was Vitaphoned, and while one did not anticipate that Mr. Beery was a Martinelli or a Scotti, one hoped that the verbal result of his gruff intonation might be more fruitful than it is. Mr. Beerys introduction as Oklahoma Red is accomplished with an ale barrel (presumably containing some of the precious beverage), to the accompaniment of Dont you hear bells? and then I hate them bells, which does not add much to the interest of the unshorn character. In his performance Mr. Beery seems to be torn between his latter day experiences as a comedian and his erstwhile portrayals of villainy. He ends by being a hero, or, at least, a belligerent hobo who makes the great sacrifice for Nancy, the girl killer, for whom the police are offering $1,000 reward. And one is impelled to wander why Oklahoma Red should betray such a great interest in Nancy, who is always under the wing of her young and ardent admirer, Jim.
There are some good scenes of trains, but whether they or the actions of the tramps afford entertainment is another matter. The hoboes, after hopping on a freighter, decide to uncouple the car of which they have taken possession to stop the police sleuths who are searching for Nancy. The girl, of course, ought to be intensely grateful to this glorified aggregation of tramps, but, to the spectator, their actions are seldom convincing.
Louise Brooks figures as Nancy. She is seen for the greater part of this subject in male attire, having decided to wear these clothes to avoid being apprehended. Miss Brooks really acts well, better than she has in most of her other pictures. Richard Arlen is sympathetic as Jim.
Paul Ash, the patronizing stage orchestra leader, whose presence is sorely needed, it is said, in Chicago, is still officiating with his bows and his baton at the Paramount, this time in a stage contribution devised by John Murray Anderson. (Published on September 24, 1928)
Who Strangled the Dancer?
(14) THE CANARY MURDER CASE, with William Powell, James Hall, Jean Arthur, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Charles Lane, Eugene Palette, Lawrence Grant, Ned Sparks, Louis John Bartels and E. H. Calvert, based on the story by S. S. Van Dine, directed by Malcolm St-Clair; Ted Claire, master of ceremonies, with the stage production, "Happy go lucky," staged by C. A. Niggemeyer. At the Paramount Theatre. [dates de production: 11 septembre au 12 octobre 1928 / prises de sons: 19 décembre 1928 / sortie le 16 février 1929 (sept bobines) / les titres son d'Herman Mankiewicz (scénariste du classique'Citizen Kane') / Le film muet est disparu - Ron]
At the Paramount this week is an audible pictorial version of S. S. Van Dine's mystery story, "The Canaray Murder case," in which the part of Philo Vance is ably portrayed by William Powell. It is, as a matter of fact, the first chance Mr. Powell has had in years to appear in a sympathetic rôle.
The speech in this picture is well reproduced, but judging by the manner in which Louise Brooks is posed it is reasonable to assume that the voice one hears from the screen is not hers. It is not an especially pleasing voice and the lines given to this Margaret Odell, the Canary in the case, are hardly what one would imagine to be the manner of talking of a stage performer who had coaxed jewels from such men as are presented in this film.
The story dismisses certain happenings with alarming haste, obviously to avoid the spectators having a chance to suspect the person who is guilty of the Canary's murder. The reasons for suspecting five men are craftily set forth. It is indeed a far more compelling and satisfactory tale of its type than has so far been translated to the screen.
Malcolm St-Clair, who has won his spurs by several worthy pictorial efforts, gives a good account of himself in directing this attraction. His flashes of the Canary swinging on a trapeze in a theatre are so excellent that they bring to mind the photographic feats in "Variety."
At the end of the picture there is a request asking those in the theatre to refrain from revealing the identity of the slayer of the Canary.
James Hall impersonates James Spotswoode, who is enamored of the Canary. Mr. Hall's voice does not in this case register with much melodiousness. On the other hand, Gustav von Seyffertitz, as Dr. Ambrose Lindquist, is effective both in shadow and vocal delivery. Louis John Bartels handles the rôle of Louis Mannix with the competence one would expect from him.
"The Three Swifts" are wonderfully keen-eyed and amusing in their act in the stage offering, "Happy go lucky." (Published on March 16?, 1929)
A Disconnected Melodrama
(15) PANDORAS BOX, with Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Alice Roberts, Carl Goetz and others, directed by G. W. Pabst; Should Married Men Go Home a comedy with Laurel and Hardy. At the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse. [les "others": Gustav Diessl (Jack the Ripper), Krafft Raschig (Rodrigo, l' acrobate) et Alice Roberts (première à jouer le rôle de lesbienne au cinéma/comtesse Geschwitz). [dates de production: 17 octobre au 23 novembre 1928 / sortie le 30 janvier 1929 à Berlin; le 1 décembre 1929 à New York (neuf bobines) - Ron]
At the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse is a German silent film called Pandoras Box, with Fritz Kortner and Louise Brooks in the leading rôles. The story is declared to be a combined adaptation of Frank Wederkinds plays, Erdgeist and The Box of Pandora [Die Büchse der Pandora -Ron.]. In an introductory title the management sets forth that it has beeen prevented by the censors from showing the film in its entirety, and it also apologies for what it termed an added saccharine ending.
Altough there are several adroitly directed passages in this production, the narrative is seldom interesting. One is not in the least concerned as to what happens to any of the characters whose nonchalance during certain junctures is not a little absurd. It is a disconnected melodramatic effusion in which there is an attempt to depict a thoughtless, attractive woman and her unsavory experiences.
Lulu, the woman, played by Miss Brooks, is convicted of killing Dr. Schoen, whom she was to wed. As a matter of fact, he forces the pistol into her hand and in the ensuing struggle the weapon explodes with the fatal result. Lulu, apparently is not not especially perturbed over this happening. In court she directs flirtatious glances at the Prosecuting Attorney and at the presiding judge. In those scenes dealing with her escape there is a suggestion of the melodrama in old serials, except that there is no climbing to housetops or swinging from trees. Lulu and others eventually reach a gambling place in the slums of Paris, where she is blackmailed by those who want money for one reason or another.
Miss Brooks is attractive and she moves her head and eyes at the proper moment, but whether she is endeavoring to express joy, woe, anger or satisfaction it is often difficult to decide.
Mr. Kortner, one of Germanys ablest screen players, adopts slow tactics in this offering. He is precise about sticking a monocle in his eye and also in getting into trouble at the psychological instant.
The scenes in the wings of a theatre are, however, filmed far better than the story deserves and the types for the minor rôles are well chosen. (Published on December ?, 1929)
À venir / Coming up: Love 'em and leave 'em, The girl from Coney Island or Just another blonde, It pays to advertise, When you're in love et/and God's gift to women.
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