Grace Conway on Films
RERNANOS' Diary of a Country " Priest is being prepared for presentation to English-speaking audiences, and the director, Mr. Robert Bresson has been over in London to discuss it.
He was also present at the Institut Francais on Monday evening for the first showing of his film in London. One cinema at least is interested. but nothing so far has been settled.
Mr. Bresson, one of France's youngest directors, an ardent admirer of Bernanos and an idealist, does not want any well-known actor to speak the English commentary. He deliberately chose his French cast among " unknowns" and thinks that the use of famous names and personalities detract from a work such as this.
Le Journal d'un Cure de Cornpagne is having considerable success in the French provinces. In Paris it had a sucees
Is it a commercial success? This is what Mr. Martin Gough, who sees many films on the Continent, told me: 'This, I think, is not a film for the highbrow' — for the professional critic. It has to he viewed with a childlike faith — and, most unexpectedly. in France it is having its greatest success among peasants and industrial workers.
" As you know. it was shown at a Venice film festival, and at the same time tried out in an ordinary little cinema at Mestre. just outside Venice. It had a dubbed Italian commentary and had Italian captions. With an audience composed for the most part of industrial workers and country folk it had an enormous success. Somehow they understood Bernanos' mysticism — which a more sophisticated audience might miss."
That, I think. k a very interesting angle — and I hope that not only London but the rest of this country will be given a chance of seeing the film.
At the same time, films with a religious theme get pretty rough handling over here. The critics don't like them and the public stays away. The immortal " Monsieur Vincent" was only the exception that proved the rule.
I had a talk with Mr. Bresson before he went back to Paris and he told me: " Yes, it is true that France really
likes my film. It is a ' popular' success. and I am glad because I have great affection for the ordinary people, for the people who feel before they think. As you know. I don't like well-known actors in my films—and for the English commentator I have chosen a young English student at present studying in Paris.
" Did you know Bcrnanos?" I asked.
"No. Ti was very sad, I was to meet him in Paris to discuss the filming of his book but he was already very ill and he died before we could meet."
If and when the London showing is arranged Mr. Bresson hopes to come over for the premiere.
ENCORE (PLAZA: Certificate A)
Directors : Harold French, Pat Jackson and Anthony Pelisier
NCE again three of Somerset Maugham's short stories have been turned into bright cinema — crisply and intelligently adapted and directed.
The Master himself. seated in his delectable Riviera garden. speaks a brief prologue to each filinette, a benevolent satirist and even in the last of the three an indignant critic.
The three are: "The Ant and the Grasshopper." "Winter Cruise," and "Gigilo and Gigilette."
"Winter Cruise" is a personal triumph for Kay Walsh, who plays the part of a garrulous lady-owner of a teashop who takes time off in the slack. season for a cruise.
"The Ant and the Grasshopper" — a modern Aesop's fable — gives Nigel Patrick a chance to show us that we have no more urbane and polished young actor in the British studios today.
In the same way Glynis Johns seizes the opportunity given her in " Giglio and Gigolette " to display a hitherto unexploited talent for tragedy. In this pocket drama she plays the part of a girl death-diver who rebels against the morbidminded public who go hoping for an accident.
In addition to these virtuoso performances there is excellent support by the considerable cast of all three films, who include many of the best character actors in British films.
AN ITALIAN STRAW HAT PARIS QUI DORT (EVERYMAN CINEMA, HAMPSTEAD)
TWO vintage Rend Clair films
from the silent era are being shown at one of the few cinemas in London that are able to show " pretalkies "— for the same equipment can't be used for both types.
The first has become a classic of its kind and by many is considered the best thing that Rent Clair has ever done. He made it in 1928.
Paris qui Dort was Clair's first feature-length comedy. It is the story of a scientist who directs a ray he has discovered on Paris, freezing it into immobility. Only a man on the top of the Eiffel Tower and a group of passengers in a plane over the city escape.
They land and decide to loot the place. In a lifeless Paris, their riches and power are as dead-sea fruit.
In An Italian Straw Hat, Clair presents us with a gay satire on the French bourgeois with focus on prepartions for a wedding. In the principal actor, Albert Prejean, you may detect the early influence of Chaplin. How has the cinema as an aspirant to the arts declined since it began to talk? A visit to these two will help you decide.
LULLABY OF BROADWAY
(WARNERS: Certificate U) Director : David Butler
AVERY bright, conventional Technicolor musical with Doris Day (most welcome except when she is shown with her pale pink tongue in close-up), dancing and siLnhpe?
N and Owe elson, with that
ing comedian Billy de Wolfe to handle the few bright lines the script-writers have managed to hammer out.
A minor note is struck by the presence of a dipsomanic mother who makes a sudden recovery—more filmic than convincing. Alcoholics Unlimited will be glad to know the magic formula.