Strange Interlude

A film version as electrifying as the Glenda Jackson production directed for television by Herbert Wise.

The actors act silently to their voiceovers, this is often very fast, which was Mordaunt Hall’s only complaint in the New York Times, where he reported an audience listening to every word.

Buñuel’s version is Tristana, the seven ages of woman are something of O’Neill’s idea.

The famous spoken thoughts are very useful in expressing the characters and delimiting the action, but they are just below the surface, the real motivations and impulses are revealed dramatically.

Halliwell, for whom this is “a very heavy modern play”, nevertheless cites Pare Lorentz on Leonard’s masterpiece, “more exciting than a thousand ‘action’ movies,” more comical than a thousand spoofs.



From Main Street to the Kabuki stage (large tree shedding petals) and thence the court of Louis Napoleon for the soprano’s debut.

Leonard pays especial care to the quality of various sounds in this scene, ball guests chatting en masse, the soprano’s voice in the great hall, etc. His stupendous camerawork is quietly executed and well-conceived, the transverse dip and rise across the ballroom (tracking on MacDonald and Barrymore) is exemplary, but his technique is stupendously rich and advanced beyond any if not all.

The director’s technique, and something of Romberg’s.

Main Street to Saint-Cloud. The protégé and her career, love in Paris...

“Montage effects by Slavko Vorkapich”.

La délivrance, la vie commence...” The substance of art.

Variety carped about “occasional lapses into the superfluous and betimes dull interludes”, besides, it was too long.

Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader) at his most hilarious, “the secret of their success, one might say, has been clouded by the mists of time—this one’s strictly for buffs and cinema sociologists. Robert Z. Leonard directed.”

Leonard Maltin complains of “occasional heavy-handedness and piercing operatic sequence”.

Halliwell’s Film Guide has no idea but “it could scarcely be better done,” citing Pauline Kael of The New Yorker on “thwarted passion”.


Pride and Prejudice

The authors of this film accept the thing as ancestral to The Importance of Being Earnest and play it as it lays.

Pride and Prejudice is a signal encounter with style, style itself being defined as the result of the artist’s encounter with his material. The richness of the style comes from the transmutation of the novel into a play and then a screenplay with the hand of Aldous Huxley in it. Having been so well-worked, the thing scintillates down into its depths, and Bosley Crowther was wrong to say that Mr. Collins and Mary Bennet are badly played. Mr. Collins is perfect, and Mary is a gag played on the high wire. Like the costumes and the Mussorgsky theme, she is a concomitant or resultant of the style.

All of this is in the line of M-G-M, as witness the remarkably original 1938 A Christmas Carol. The story is that Stravinsky asked Balanchine how old the elephants for Circus Polka were, thinking of the Bennet parrot, perhaps, who is excused for his insolence before company because “he’s very young.”

The two articles in the title are reconciled when “the undeserving poor” are not denied their inheritance.


Stand By For Action

The screenplay passed under the hands of R.C. Sherriff and Herman J. Mankiewicz, only the very best people were the crew on this film, the result is a burgeoning masterpiece like no other except the many it visibly sired.

Early days in the war, resuming after 1918, the meaning of John Paul Jones’ famous cry is made clear.

The title tells all, the old destroyer pressed into service becomes a floating maternity ward.

Bosley Crowther stepped off on a very wrong foot, “breeds complacency... insults our fighting men” (New York Times). Halliwell’s Film Guide failed to grasp it, too.


Week-End at the Waldorf

With direct reference to Goulding’s Grand Hotel, a dog has her puppies there in Manhattan, a famous columnist’s dog, or somewhere else that’s elite with a suite yet full of the common touch.

War-weary correspondent meets worked-out movie star, cub reporter breaks phony oil deal, Xavier Cugat plays late serviceman’s song on his Saturday night broadcast, the war is starkly present and that deal is for after, an Army Air Force captain with a fifty-fifty chance and an Air Medal is a kid from nowhere with no-one and nothing, a girl from “double Fifth” could get swallowed up by a crook with plans.

Tired, nervous and sad in the course of the war, also restful and amusing, from Friday night to Monday morning.


In the Good Old Summertime

An American musical adaptation of Lubitsch, in the key of John Singer Sargent.