By GRACE CONWAY E- 'Catholic Herald' Film Critic "niniiimommi0
THE BELLES OF ST. TRINIAN'S Gaumont: Certificate U Director: Frank Launder
THIS is a light-weight week in. the West Encl. and I for one am not grumbling. If we are to believe reports, Ronald Searle has tolled the bell for the girls of St. Trinian's, but in this their first and last appearance on the screen they are going out in a blaze of glory.
Sceptics, among whom I -number myself, didn't believe that those scraggy, wire-haired h orr ors— spindly sisters of the hockey stick— could possibly find a place in the cinema. But they have. By the genius of Mr. Launder and the magnificent co-operation of Alistair Sim, they have put St. Trinian's permanently on the map.
Mr. Sim plays opposite himself, as the headmistress (Miss Millicent Fritton) and as her brother Clarence, a bookmaker—both performances qualified to rank among the best this unique actor has ever given. Never a hint of caricature mars the portrait of the amazing woman who conducts her fantastic establishment by turn ing a blind eye to all that is odd and yet seems to keep up a sort of bluff of discipline among her wildest pupils.
Nothing comes amiss to her strange alumnte. They brew gin to sell to the black market. They make books on their "fixed" hockey matches (decided by knocking out the referee and most of the opposing team). They not only het on horses but know all the involved technique—honourable and dishonourable—appertaining thereto.
And yet they are a likeable bunch of juveniles—much more likeable than the ones in Mr. Searle's cartoons, Especially the Fourth Form, wherein all the most diabolical plots are hatched.
After Mr. Sim our applause is for George Cole for his splendiferous portrait of the spiv who acts as contact man between the girls and their hell's brew buyers in a shrinking market now "there's so much good stuff" about.
Joyce Grenfell. as the policewoman masquerading as the games mistress, is as funny as her part of the script will allow, and funnier at times, for no one hut she could simulate that school-girl lope.
Big and famous names appear among the mistresses—Herrnione Baddeley, Betty Ann Davies, Renee Houston, Beryl Reid, Mary Merrell
—hut actually theirs is the weakest part of the film. Somehow they never take shape as characters, though their concerted action adds up to something that fits into the general crazy pattern.
The men, on the other hand. are all well defined—not surprising. since among them are names like Sidney James, Richard Wattis (always a safe bet as a civil servant), Eric Pohlmann fa superb Sultan whose daughter is sent to St. Trinian's to keep her safe from the G.I.$), and Guy Middleton, a fugitive from the Ministry of Education.
Mr. Searle may have tolled the bell for his drawings but these belles should ring for a long time to come.
THIS IS CINERAMA Camino
rlINERAMA is the last word in "-'audience participation. It is not to he confused with CinemaScope or the yet-to-he-seen Vistavision. Nor need they fear competition for the moment, for the process is so expensive and involved.
The present programme, which for two years has been drawing full houses in New York, is all that is ready for export.
The screen is vast and concave. Three separate pictures, in colour of course, combine to fill it, and you can actually see the vertical lines that separate them in certain of the shots,
Fred Waller, whose invention it is, calls it "peripheral vision"—i.e., the things we see obscurely out of the corners of our eyes.
The shape of the screen covers an arc of 146 degrees (the human eye's arc is 180 degrees), The screen is made up of hundreds of vertical strips of perforated tape, angled like the slats of a venetian blind, It measures 75 ft. from tip to tip and it is 26 ft. high. It has taken Mr. Waller 15 years of constant research to perfect it.
That is enough about the technical side of the matter. What does the programme, wholly .documentary consist of7
First, shock tactics. A trip in the front seat of the big dipper, real enough to give you a very strange feeling in the solar plexus—aided by shrieks of the passengers in the rear.
Next. Venice in all the glory of the huge expanse of St, Mark's Square, and of the great lagoon. Never has water been photographed like this.
Follows up Spain of the bullrings, the fiesta; Vienna, with the boys' choir; Edinburgh and the Tattoo; the huge stage of La Scala, Milan, with the Victory Ballet of -Aida. It's all super-colossal and wonderful, the sections musically connected by an orchestra playing Moussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."
Sound is better than anything heard so far, whether coming directly from the screen or rolling at you from the back of the auditorium.
Hihh-light of the second part is an /1 ir trip across the United States from Atlantic to Pacific, with some amazing shots flying through narrow ravines. Not a few people told me they felt airsick.
So this is London's new thrill.
FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE Warners: Certificate U Director: J. Lee-Thompson THE second light-weight. A better'. HE
stage to screen. nicely directed, charmingly acted by some of Britain's best screen folk.
It is a comedy which depends for its laughs on the trials and tribulations of a young married couple in the upper-cultural, lower-income bracket who have to live in a one
room flat and who get their furniture on the hire-purchase system.
Dirk Bogarde and Susan Stephens make a perfect team for this type of play. Cecil Parker and Eileen Herlie are the bride's parents; Dennis Price is the smooth, bluffing flats agent, and those reliables in Cockney roles, Sidney James, James Haytcr (as an irate plumber) and Charles Victor are excellent. Thora Hind, too, contributes a good study of a not-toosweet Cockney caretaker who "does" for the tenants.
Although I can't quite see why every sentence was greeted by shrieks of laughter. I can recommend this as a light amusing and neatly performed bit of screenplay.
PUSHOVER Dominion: Certificate A Director: Richard Quine
URED MacMURRAY must be a good actor, for his poker face never seems to change and yet it is always possible to know whether he is playing a good or a bad man. Here he is a corruptible—and corrupted— cop who gambles for the spoils of a bank robbery, the gangster's moll (Kim Novak) and loses everything, including his life.
Less brutality than usual—and the Wages of sin are certainly death.