and a story
BRANDED (PL&za Director: Rudolph Mate DON'T be deceived by the title into thinking this is just another of those cattle-stampeding films. It is that rather unusual event in the cinema-a Western with a first-class story to tell.
More than that. It is not the cattle who are branded but our old friend Alan Ladd-taking time off from the sordid haunts of the city spivs and looking as though he has been bred and born if not in a briar patch at least in the wilds of Texas.
I think there will always be a cinema public for the outdoor type of film that is shot, as it nearly always is nowadays, in Technicolor.
And colour gets better and better. Gone are the sky-blue rivers. the emerald trees and the bright ochre rocks. In their place are the graded tints that change with the day and the atmosphere, giving the illusion of being really out in the open.
To the Texan ranch owned by the Lavery family (Charles Bickford and Selena Royle as father and mother and Mona Freeman as the daughter Ruth) comes a young gunman (Alan Ladd) to work a most cruel fraud upon them. He is to pose as the son who was abducted when he was a child of five—and to prove his claim has had a birthmark tatooed or " branded " on his shoulder.
His partner in crime (Robert Keith) who aims to halve the market price of 180,000 head of cattle with him. arrives at the ranch to find that a change of heart has come over the young man—and he couldn't have a bigger shock than if it had been the plague.
At the point of a gun, however, the story of the abduction, in which he played the main part, is forced out of him and the action then moves off to Mexico, where that grand actor. Joseph Calleia, as Rubris, notorious bandit, is waiting to greet us. Also the real Lavery son —now a full-blown Mexican enjoying the wide acres of his adoring foster father.
The job then is to get him hack to his family (1) for the sake of the decent mother and father; and (2) so that Ruth may look upon the reformed imposter as something more interesting than a long-lost brother. And an exciting escape the two make. with Mexican look-outs spitting bullets at them from rocky promontories and the outraged bandit in pursuit. A very well made Western this, with Alan Ladd even being given a chance to act, which he takes.
THE BREAKING POINT (WARNERS) Director: Michael Curtiz WHEN you see the name Ernest Hemingway among the credit titles you have a right to expect a good story and some crisp dialogue. You get both here -and you also get some Hemingway slaughter; and the last scene in Hamlet has nothing on the shambles that occurs on board a fishing boat off Catalina Island.
There is a moral somewhere in this story, which is that no matter how hard pressed the father of a respectable family may be for money, he should keep clear of the gangsters. John Garfield (owner of the fishing boat), unable to pay the instalments on his boat, yields to the temptation of " running " some Chinese illicitly into the U.S.
The shambles occurs when. getting still deeper into the game, he agrees to ship off a clutch of gangsters who have robbed the " tote."
Very effectively done is the
domestic background-the ordinary, struggling family into whose lives the misguided father brings sharp tragedy.
SUNDAY IN AUGUST (ACADEMY) Director: Luciano Elmer
WHEN the Continental Sunday is criticised, there are always Christian defenders who assure the critics that however gaily the people celebrate their holiday, they have all been to Mass beforehand.
For some reason or other. none of the Romans in this quite delightful picture is seen going to or coming from church. For all the world Rome might be a pagan city—London, in fact.
Those of us who have been so busy when in Rome that we have never had time to go to Ostia—its seaside " lung "—can now spend the whole of an eventful Sunday there, a sort of Latinised Southend, except that the plutocrats use the same beach in a strongly wired-off " compound."
All kinds of little side dramas are played out by fat fathers and fatter mothers, children. romantic adolescents. And since all the parts are in the hands of the most natural actors in the world, there isn't a dull moment.
I HAVE to thank a Newcastle on-Tyne reader, Mr. Robert G. Hall, for news about the new Holy Year pilgrimage film which has not, unfortunately, been shown so far in London.
It is a 20th Century Fox production and is called " Holy Year Pilgrimage MCML."
When I asked Mr. John Ware 20th Century's Director of Publicity. he told me that as the film probably arrived too late for a London booking, it was released immediately in the Provinces.
As a result of my inquiry, he invited members of the Catholic Press to see it this week. Unfortunately a previous engagement prevented me from seeing it, but Mr. Hall may feel gratified that by reporting to me about what he describes as a " must " for all Catholics. it is receiving publicity through the Catholic Press.
I hope to see it in the very near future. Meanwhile readers can approach their local cinema managers as to the prospects of it being presented in their home town.