THE MAGIC BOX (ODEON, LEICESTER-SQUARE: Certificate U)
Director : John Boulting
WELL, it's made it—the British
festival film—just getting to the post before the flags go down on the South Bank—and not to be shown at the Telekinema. A thousand pities that by now all the overseas visitors have gone. Let's hope the Magic Box will follow them wherever they are.
For the world should know—and the millions of cinema goers especially should know—that it is to an Englishman—William Friese Greene —that it owes the first moving pictures—the well from which all the super, colossal, mammoth, etc., etc., productions of today owe their being.
If they think it was the Americans or the Russians — this film should put them right. Distinguished members of film and stage worlds have gladly given their services to honour this remarkable man whose life and life's work is so movingly told on the screen which he brought into being.
William Friese Greene was a complete man—with an inventive brain. But his was no one-track mind. He was a happy sociable person, a family man (twice married and the father of seven children) and in his time he made money.
But what money he made he ploughed back into the fertile field of his creative energy—and he had the patience of Job when dealing with the sceptics and unadventurous who persistently and with hob-nailed boots so often treaded upon his dreams.
In his human relationships, in his family, and his friends he inspired love and loyalty — and this must have done much to insulate him against the indifferentism and heartless commercialism which he met in other spheres.
John Boulting has made a faithful record of this man's story that never flags. Robert Donat as the inventor gives a performance that equals if not eclipses his immortal Mr. Chips He is ably partnered by the young Swiss actress Maria Schell as his first wife, but, as the second wife. Margaret Johnstone is just a bit too bleak.
Fifty famous names are in the cast, names like Sir Laurence Olivier and Margaret Rutherford. Spotting the famous as they go by may distract for a moment but the story, the direction, the acting, triumph over the most formidable competition.
RHUBARB (CAnt.ToN: Certificate U) Director : Arthur Lubin
A SPORTS reporter once told me " that professional footballers never grow up. They are like children—and when they lose a game they sit round sunk in the depths of despair.
There is a bunch of baseball players in this film and they, reminded me of that reporter. For they are all like overgrown children —and think that if they don't stroke Rhubarb—a hellcat if ever there was one—they'll never play a winning stroke.
Rhubarb is going to make me break a rule, which is never to mention the word " star " in this column. I award a bright shining star to Rhubarb — a cat with the loveliest snarl in catdom. Sharing the headlines with him is Ray Milland who inherits the wild animal from a millionaire. But no human " star" could stand up to Rhubarb—a picture stealer if ever there was one.