Looks at the Films
CAT ON A HOT TIN R001.
Certificate X: Empire Director: Richard Brooks
MUCH as I like the cinema it
was good to get away from the wide screen and stereophonic sound for a bit and to look at the wide sky and listen to the noise of some genuine waves breaking on the shore, tearing at the shingle and out-roaring the best sound machines.
Now back, I plunge straight into the tortured personal relationships that are Tennessee Williams' particular territory. As you will notice, this one has an " X" cete tificate — though I've seen many worse with an " A".
But why say " worse "? We are accustomed to make the cinema a whipping boy for everything these days.
Yet, although we have lots of fiction crowding the library shelves that are near-pornography, and plenty of plays in the London theatre that hold nothing sacred, no one ever raises a squeak of protest.
What does the cinema do with a strong dish like Mr Williams' play? Even at the risk of ambiguity it has to do a bit of mild laundering—a bit of disinfecting— before even an " X" certificate is grantecL
Even with a few teeth pulled this story of a rich old Mississippi cotton planter, under sentence of death from cancer, is strong stuff. When we meet him (and Burl Ives in the part moves up another notch as an actor) he thinks the doctors have reprieved him. And he has all sorts of wicked plans for the future.
His two sons are already locked in battle over -his estate. The older (Jack Carson) with an ever-growing brood of children; the younger (Paul Newman), who consumes vast quantities of whiskey, estranged from his young wife (Elizabeth Taylor) because he is haunted a perverted sense of guilt. He thinks he is responsible for the suicide of the football hero he used to worship. Maggie, his wife, who tried to break up their friendship. (the character of which is never defined in the film). has become inextricably mixed up in his mind with the suicide—a typical, involved, Freudian, Tennessee Williams set-up.
The plot goes forward to the accompaniment of the shrill voices of squabbling women. Elizabeth Taylor, who gave more than a hint in " Raintree Country " that she might soon be taken seriously as an actress, handles her dialogue with insight and intelligence. The cast is further strengthened by the presence of Judith Anderson as the mother and there is an intimidating band of rather repulsive children — and if they aren't actually repulsive they must all be jolly clever little actors.
ITIE HUNTERS Certificate As Carlton Director: Dick Powell
THE beautiful terror of war in
the skies — there has never been aerial photography like it. The sky is that over Korea and the superb machines that scream and fling themselves about are the jet fighters — and the MiG's.
Up directing them is Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner and others, and down on the ground is graceful, blonde May Britt who is having a tough time trying to remain faithful to her marital vows.
But honour is served and none of the characters would qualify for inclusion in a London daily's gossip column. Because they all do the right thing in the end.
I WAS MONTY'S DOUBLE Certificate U: Warners
Director: John Guillermin IMET two very brave men this
week — one was the Rev. Brian Hession the Anglican parson. who, in spite of his long fight against ill-health, has worked so hard to get films dealing with Christianity into the commercial cinema. I hope to discuss his latest — " The Day of Triumph" (now at the Cameo-Poly Cinema) next week.
The second brave man was Mr. Clifton James who impersonated Field Marshal Montgomery during the war. " Wasn't it a nervewracking experience ? " I asked him. ' It was," he answered. " I'm still terrified when I think of it."
" Monty " understand, read and approved the script. It really need not have gilded the lily by superimposing a bit more cloak and dagger fiction on this thrilling account of how Clifton James (and he plays the part here he really did play in the war) appeared at Gibraltar and in North Africa and was taken for Monty by everyone but the High Command who were, of course, in the know.
The likeness is uncanny — as you can see by the ohotograph here But in addition to looking like him, for those weeks Mr. James had to " become " the great man.
A remarkable performance and a remarkable film in which suspense and humour jostle each other. Cecil Parker and John Mills are perfect as two M.I.5. types who think the whole scheme out and nurse it to its consummation.
PAPAL ELECTION riNE London cinema — the
Classic at Tooting—has a news sense. It is showing for four days, beginning on Sunday that unique film "The Secret Conclave" which tells the life story of Pope Pius X. A very important section deals with the conclave at which he was elected Pope. (He was canonised by our late Holy Father in 1954.) The Catholics of Tooting are lucky to be able to witness the reproduction of the ceremony which will be re-enacted in Rome towards the end of this month. Sharing the programme with "The Secret Conclave" is that delightful Spanish film "Marcelino, Pan y Vino".