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If I Were Rich

“Formerly ‘Cash’”, also known as For Love or Money.

Eternal Spring, a gigantic swimming pool resort near the Marble Arch, financed on sheer speculation with bogus money at the height of the Depression.

That’s business, its practitioners get away with it, that’s all.

The objectification of value leaves a few things out of account, and there is a side benefit to all the chicanery.

A great English comedy, very up-to-date.

 

Sanders of the River

He is dead, the drums say, there is no law on the river.

That is a lie, to further the interests of a white gunrunner and his moonshining partner.

So runs the parable, of which the tremendous force is its plain simplicity and the cinematic resources brought to bear, including Paul Robeson, Leslie Banks, a brilliant cast, African natives, location shooting and a great score.

 

The Drum

Out of Peshawar four days’ march is a tiny fiefdom usurped by the Khan’s brother, one Ghul. The plan is for a massive revolt beginning with a massacre of the Resident and his party at a dinner stocked with machine guns.

The young Prince flees to Peshawar but returns to give a signal on the great drum of the palace, one specially composed at his request by a lad in the Army.

A year before Gunga Din, in Technicolor, for London Films, with Roger Livesey as the Resident, Valerie Hobson his wife, Raymond Massey the new Khan Ghul, and Sabu the Prince.

 

The Four Feathers

The fall of Khartoum, the defeat of its occupiers by Kitchener.

Between these two events, and the Battle of Omdurman, a long insight gradually obtains.

This concerns the Battle of Balaclava, and is among the priceless things to be had from this film and many another, by Dearden or Lean, for example, or Richardson.

A young reader of Shelley, etc., the story goes.

 

The Jungle Book

Zoltan Korda in Hollywood is simply awash with color, overpowering all obstacles to obtain a dreamy result exactly reflecting his estimation of the Kipling work, which shows itself here as properly mythic. The “Dawn of Man” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey has a studied resemblance to this, and so does the finale of True Grit (and the opening of How The West Was Won), which tells you how Kubrick and Hathaway rated it. Echoes appear in George Pal’s The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and Pasolini’s I Racconti di Canterbury. Joseph Calleia’s performance is just the thing of beauty you would expect, and then some. When the tourist lady gets him to talk, and he tells this story (a brother to The Man Who Would Be King, you could amply say), Korda records it as a Technicolor release from the Pan-X jungle.

Among the actors, John Qualen and the black panther also deserve praise, the latter especially, who probably inspired a little-known film with Donald Pleasence, Nancy Kwan and Ross Hagen called Night Creature.

 

Sahara

The last-ditch stand at El Alamein is poetically reduced to a single tank at a dry waterhole fighting a nondescript battle against absurdly overpowering odds to define a miracle, the purpose of the screenplay being also to depict the early stages of the war in retreat. The nature of hopeless resistance, an articulate definition of the enemy (“that would take an artist, I’m only a mechanic”), and the general situation understood by Hitchcock in Lifeboat.

“I am the poet, ringleader of the dry well your distances, o my love, provision.” (René Char)

 

Counter-Attack

The moment of truth, as they say in the bullring, which is the basement of a bombed-out building in Russia where a man and a woman hold seven Germans at gunpoint.

Each side wants knowledge of the other’s plans, disposed on either bank of a river.

The Russians are “eighteen inches below the surface”, the Germans are there or thereabouts, these two positions once finally and definitively stated, the drama is concluded, victoriously.

An uncommonly intelligent film, even with this director and cast.

The continuous drama excited the admiration of a very dull critic, Bosley Crowther (New York Times).

Halliwell’s Film Guide registers a “standard World War II actioner.”

 

Cry, the Beloved Country

The country mouse and the town mouse, Johannesburg. A memorable arrival by rail.

Fate of the farmer’s son and the priest’s son there, Arthur and Absalom, and the carpenter’s son.

The brother goes there and becomes a radical, the daughter a whore, the son sent after him a thief and murderer.

“So the world goes.”

The dramatic utterance has the character of a legend or a fable at the crucial juncture and others.

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “redounds to the credit of the screen.”

Variety, “full of simplicity and charm.”

The Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “compelling”.

Leonard Maltin, “heart-rending”.

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “rather high-flown”.

The theme of Richard Brooks’ Something of Value is stated.