BEAU BRUMMELL Empire: Certificate U Director: Curtis Bernhardt
A LTHOUGH Stewart Granger "appears in the title role, this Royal Command film really belongs to Peter Ustinov who is cast as "Prinny," the Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent and George IV. It's coming to the point now when Mr. Ustinov, even when he is playing only a minor role, steals the limelight. Whenever he is off the screen. the place looks quite empty—and not only because of his physical bulk.
Is his George IV a good portrait then? I doubt it. There is too much of the sulky, pouting adolescent being pushed around by the implacable and sneering Pitt (Paul Rogers), weeping because he can't get sanction to marry Maria Fitzherbert (Rosemary Harris), looking piqued when Beau Brummell insults him. Hardly ever a king. hardly ever suggesting the vivacious, fun-loving Prince who kept Brighton on tenterhooks as to what he was going to do next.
So we must accept this as a brilliant performance, but a poor portrait.
My chief complaint about the picture as a whole is that it lacks the Regency gaiety and bounce. Its attempt to show Beau Brummell's influence on dress and deportment is only lightly sketched in. while Rommel l's appalling behaviour in the presence of royalty is just a bit too heavily stressed.
As for the Regency belles--Mrs. Fitzherbert and, not taken from history, Lady Patricia (Elizabeth Taylor), they are more like prim Victorian misses, especially Lady Pat.
And need we have had that harrowing death-bed scene in the Calais garret, even though it gives Stewart Granger a chance to do a bit of acting? It is painful and quite out of tune with what had gone before,
Of the settings there can he nothing hut praise—one lovely set after another like exquisite old prints come to life.
BROKEN LANCE Carlton: Certificate U Director: Edward Dymytryk SPENCER TRACY looms out of Lithe CinemaScope screen large and rugged against the enormous rolling prairies of the South-west. As the tyrannical owner of a territory estending as far as the eye can reach. he has been so far corrupted by power that his sons hate' him. Only the youngest son (Robert Wagner) of his second and Indian wife loves him.
One of the most eerie sequences ever brings the film to an end. Although he is stricken with semiparalysis he mounts his horse and goes in pursuit of his eldest son ( R. ich a rd Widmark), who has threatened to sell part of the beloved ranch. He dies in the saddle and the horse carries him along still sitting rigidly until the son stops it and he falls to the ground.
Just as an experiment. I watched this from the front row and found it no hardship at all. In fact, with no distortion and none of those lines you see on the ordinary screen, this was "audience participation" in a wide sense.
GARDEN OF EVIL
Odeon, Marble Arch: Certificate A
Director: Henry Hathaway
C1 NEM ASCOPE showing the great open spaces to the music of a mammoth orchestra is a mixture I find it hard 10 take. and the much
vaunted stereophonic sound only aggravates it.
Here the camera ranges over some truly majestic country in Mexico—a land over which a volcano once erupted, leaving great jagged rocks in its wake. Over them those gallant Hollywood horses slide and slither. But when they are accompanied by string, brass and drum fortissimo the whole action takes on the character of an opera. A genuine horse opera.
Susan Hayward plays the part of a sort of femme fatale whose allure —all unbeknown to herself as the script seems to imply—brings death in its train. Out of the six men who are involved with her in the journey into this dangerous land only one (Gary Cooper) is left alive.
When her gold-prospecting husband has been entombed in a mine she rides into the Mexican village to recruit helpers to dig him out. Gary Cooper. looking like a benign St. Bernard dog, Richard Widmark. whose sneer and shellac-like exterior hide a noble heart, and Cameron Mitchell the has to portray a frankly low type who regards fatal ladies as his own particular prey), together with the rest of the party, accomplish the frightful journey looking as perfectly groomed (though they are never seen to shave), and with their horses as unperturbed as themselves, as when they started out.
I'm afraid there is rather a lot or hokum in this story. But oh! that CinemaScope scenery, I never get tired of looking at it.
SOULS IN CONFLICT Stoll Theatre (November 22): Certificate U Directors: Leonard Reeve and Dick Ross
THIS is about Billy Graham's
mammoth campaign held in London in an effort to re-evangelise London.. it is well made, nicely coloured and never melodramatic.
A small group of people is taken to show the impact the campaign made. A good-time girl, a factory worker, a test pilot, are shown in their everyday settings. Like St, Exupery, the pilot is the only one who has worried about the general materialism of the world beforehand.
Billy Graham himself does not appear until the end, when he comes, without any ballyhoo or fanfare, straight on to the rostrum in the thronged Harringay arena and delivers his broadside in clear, resounding, unanswerable terms.
What struck me all through was that Billy Graham's approach to neopagan London is just that of a missionary trying to initiate genuine pagans in the elementary truths of Christianity.