OF MEN AND MUSIC (WALT° : Certificate U)
Director : Irving Reis
HOLLYWOOD is always fear
ful of putting classical music on to the screen. Walt Disney was the first who seriously took the plunge. He induced the nonmusical to wash down Bach and Dukes with draughts of geometrical design and other forms of animation.
Now 20th Century Fox, pioneers in so many fields. have broken into a new one. They have screened a famous pianist (Artur Rubinstein), violinist (Jascha Heifitz), two famous American operatic singers, and a famous conductor, Dimitri Mitropoulos, of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. And, apart from a far too reverent commentary by the famous music critic, Deems Taylor, they arc presented " untrimmed."
Rubinstein and Heifitz are seen in their own luxurious Californian homes. There are real prizes at the top. But, as the film so clearly demonstrates, the top is only reached by 10 per cent. inspiration and 90 per cent. perspiration.
For instance, we see these two musical giants, in the first shots, sleeveless and revealing arm muscles that would not disgrace a road navvy. No physical weakling ever became a world-famous pianist or ditto violinist. Those caressing pianissimos and harmonics are achieved only by disciplined muscle arid sinew.
Rubinstein is given some rather hackneyed stuff to play -but all musical brows-low, middle and high -will applaud his majestic treatment of the old Chopin " Polonaise in A."
Heifitz, who I suppose is the technical wizard of all time (even though Paganini might resent that) is heard in that wizard's famous 24th Caprice -and his fingering has been photographed in close-up and in slow motion. Apparently he goes into rigorous training before a concert-a martinet to himself. He deserves that paradise of a studio looking on to the Pacific.
The two operatic singers are only a name to us over here-Jan Peeree arid Nadine Conner. Two lovely voices who sing Meyerbeer and Donizetti.
Mr. Mitropoulos appears to go through agonies at a rehearsal of Liszt's " Faust Symphony " but " everything is all right on the night."
I have always found it difficult to enter into the mentality of the nonmusical-so I must play for safety anti just recommend this film to the musically initiated.
MIDNIGHT EPISODE (ODEON, MARBLE ARCH: Certificate A) Director : Gordon Parry A GEORGES Sirnenon thriller which without the presence of Stanley Holloway as a gentleman busker and Leslie Dwyer as a Cockney ditto, would be feeble stuff indeed. But these two save the day.
LAUGHTER IN PARADISE (PLAZA: Certificate U) Director: Mario larnpi HOW rich British films are in men character actors. With a cast predominantly male a director, given even a mediocre story, can scarcely go wrong.
Here we have Alistair Sim, A. E. Matthews, Ernest Thesiger, John Laurie, Leslie Dwyer, George Cole, heading a cast that includes several actresses among whom I recognised only the veteran Fay Compton and Joyce Grenfell.
Although the laughs are not continuous in this crazy story about an eccentric old man who ties some embarrassing strings to four legacies, they are frequent and loud, with Alistair Sim scoring highest number.
SIROCCO (ODEON, MARBLE ARCH:
Director : Curtis Bernhardt LEE J. Cobb is the man you should note in this sombre tale of the French-Syrian troubles of 1925. The French officer with a stern sense of duty who risks his life in an attempt to parley with the enemy, he gives a studied, intelligent portrait of the dull but upright military man. Humphrey Bogart, as a gun-runner for the highest bidder, spends a good deal of his time in a foul-smelling cellar, hiding from the French. but is eventually killed in a last gesture of conciliation. " The dog it was that died."