Page 3, 1st July 1949

1st July 1949
Page 3
Page 3, 1st July 1949 — HISTORY CANNOT HIT BACK

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Locations: Hamlet, Paris


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Saints and Sinners—Kind Hearts and Coronets—Les Paysans Noirs

BUSMEN on holiday are said to seek relaxation by looking round hungrily for another bus to drive. r don't believe it. And I'm pretty sure that most film critics when they take a vacation like to forget there are such places

as cinemas. I confess to averting my eyes swiftly whenever one came into view during a recent meander through France — but not before noticing that British films including Hamlet and The Red Shoes were holding a strong position in the Ftoile district, and Fabiola, complete with appalling posters, flaming across the country from Paris to the Corniche. That, perhaps, was the only film that would have lured me from the sunshine—if only to see if it was quite so awful as our Italian correspondent said it was. Its middle name certainly seems to be " sensation" and one waggish French newspaper suggested that the French Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was thinking of taking up the cause of the lions who bad been forced to eat such tough Christians. There seems to be no word of Fabiola coming here—so far.


History. of course, can't fight back. It is at the mercy of posterity in the shape of writers of hooks. plays and films. When it comes to contemporary stuff it's a different matter and you don't have to have too long a memory to recall at least one celebrated libel action fought and won by people who had been " used" as screen material. That's all very well if an individual is concerned. What happens if a whole nation is misrepresented as happens in Saints and Sinners

(PLAZA)? The Ireland that figures in this peculiar story by Paul Vincent Carroll (from whom we might have expected something nearer the truth) hears little relation to the real thing. We are shown a village with the phoney sounding name of

Kilwirra in which the only sane person seems to be the Canon (played by Michael Dolan). Wise man as he is, he seems to have no influence over his flock who prefer the prophecies of old Ma Islurnaghan and her flair for spotting winners. The whole village backs her " selection" and it is only one of the gaping seams in this travesty of Irish life that we are never shown the reactions of the bookmakers to this most uncomfortable " seer " in their midst.


Where the film fails artistically is that the whole village seems to have a " mass mentality "—and that in a nation that, whatever its shortcomings, has never lacked individuality and love of argument.

So when, on her supposed deathbed, Ma foretells the end of the world, the whole village goes into a dither, ignores the pleadings and arguings of the Canon, and unloading its ill gotten gains and sins of cheating and chicanery at the door of the presbytery, goes to await the crack of doom.

Not a man or woman in the whole village either is Christian enough to ignore the blethcrings of the old woman, nor even cynical or sceptic enough to laugh at them.

For me the final touch of unreality came when Kieron Moore and Christine Norden (whose screen husband seems to come under the category "complaisant ") danced cheek to cheek in an Irish pub

while the customers—tough he-men --watched and forget to drink— and applauded at the end. So much for this Irish genre picture. Incidentally, what has happened to Kieron Moore and all the pro

mise of life and vitality he gave in

A Man about the House? Even his accent has become anglicised,

making him neither fish, nor good red herring. The only member of the cast who comes out of this sorry affair with any sort of success is Maire O'Neill who puts " Ma " over with all the stops out.

In the Canon, we are once again given a picture of a priest who has to bend all his energies to getting money for the church, with a very broad hint that he has bought himself a new suit of clothes with the proceeds. Tho British have made some inferior pictures in Italy. They don't seem to be much more successful

in Ireland. Saints and Sinners does no service to Ireland or the Church

there. The cast scintillates with some of the foremost names of the Irish theatre and one can only sym pathise with them in being concerned with this travesty of their country.


No one felt more bitterly about the failure of The Bad Lord Byron than the man in the title role, Dennis Price. Now, to some extent, he is compensated by a marathon role (his voice is seldom absent from the sound track) in Kind Hearts and Coronets (LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE) which comes from that great little studio Ealing. This is a perfect piece of casting in which Mr. Price's cool, impersonal. wellbred voice plays a major part. The theme of this stylised, cynical bit of nonsense is the obsession of a young Anglo-Italian in whom is blended the blue blood of the ducal house of D'Ascoyne with the hot, red stream of a Latin singer. The obsession is to avenge his mother (a D'Ascoyne) who has been ostracised for introducing the said red Italian blood into the family, by eliminating everyone who stands between him and succession to the dukedom. He sets about the task with infinite patience, persistence and detachedness--and. occasionally accelerated by acts of God, the prize is eventually his. With. need I add, an Ealing-like twist to the finale.

In spite of the virtuoso, protean work of Alex Guinness, who plays the part of eight of the victims (some brilliantly). this remains Dennis Price's picture. He manages to tell his story with the objectiveness of a news announcer, and yet to charge every sentence with dynamite.

FRENCH GROUNDNUTS We hear so much of the British white man's burden, here for a change in Les Paysans Noirs (Cuazot4) is how one Frenchman administers the bit of North Africa entrusted to his care. A nice economy in the matter of emotions, makes this a film pleasant to watch and a reminder that groundnuts are not a British monopoly in Africa.

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