THE THIRD ERA " Becky Sharp 1111
7'he New Gallery
Colour! we are at the dawn of the second revolution in cinema. Sound was the first; its leader, The Singing Fool. was not the first of the talking films— there had been scouts and harbingers before. as far back as in pre-war days we had that elementary cinematic mireele, the Vivaphone—but it was The Singing Fool that mattered; it sang the silents oil the screen and into the realm of curio.
Now comes Becky Sharp. as significant a figure as any ''Singing Fool." Not the first of the colour pictures. Colour pictures are as old as talkies. The two' colour process has produced. and produced well but never naturally. The Black Pirate was an interesting experiment too soon released from its laboratory. Whoopee was a captivating extravaganza with its colour as extravagant as the rest. Walt Disney tried out the new Technic()lour Three-colour process in his Silly Symphonies and made Mickey Mouse turn all the colours of the rainbow with envy. La Cucuracha ventured tentatively upon our screens, a feeler to he hailed enthusiastically by critics, appreciated by the discriminating wherever it was shown, but, because exhibitors looked askance upon it, it was not shown half as widely as it merited; however. it is still in circulation and, recently. in a Scottish industrial city, it was applauded at its every showing.
Becky Sharp is the vanguard of an army marching in the tracks of its scouts, marching to certain victory in the Colour Revolution of Cinema. Colour will sweep the motion picture world as surely. as swiftly. as completely and as beneficially to all conce.rned as did sound. Producers are quibbling at present about its cost; in its early stages. while the industry is adapting itself to the change. it is bound to he expensive, but its sponsors are optimistic on the question of cost. is a Becky as clever, as cruel, as capricious and as captivating as Thackeray himself could have wished; her colour reproduces admirably with flaxen hair and vivid blue eyes. Colour helps Miriam Hopkins; it is less kind to Frances Dec, it makes her older and brings but little of the youthful charm we know to her Amelia. Cedric Flardwieke was less conscious of the occasion than most of the cast. and gave a restrained ruthlessness to the sinister Marquis of Steyne. Nigel Bruce, playing Joseph Sedley as a roaring drunk, alternating with a conceited nit-wit, gives his best performance to date.
It is a good, well-played and well-constructed picture with its colour as its star. The colour is admirably used, hinting occasionally by an increasing depth an increasing tension in action, a dangerous usage of a new medium, safe in artistic hands, as here, but offering terrible possibilities.
The ballroom scene before Waterloo, with its dresses and uniforms. is an obvious high-light; a sobbing Becky on a carpet, the whole in half-tones, though less striking. is more impressive.
Colour gets off to a wonderful start. It is a new medium for masterpieces and for mistakes. All colour pictures won't be Becky Sharps, but all paintings are not Rernbrandts, or Leonardo's, or even Augustus John's. In coloured movies, as in paintings, there will be the masterpieces, there will be the ordinary good pictures, there will be the pot-boilers ("good programme pictures") and also there will be the oleo and even the vaselino-graphs. Becky Sharp is an "early master."
11 we had not taken all that space over Becky Sharp, we could have used most of it for this new Hulbert film, and it would have deserved it. We must be content to say that it is about as good an English comedy as our studios have produced. It teams the Hulbert brothers. Jack and Claude, in an extravaganza that does not seem extravagant and that uses the Tube railways as well as rmy American studio has ever used anything. It is a triumph in the humour of subtle exaggeration, as clever as it is clean, and as clean as a whistle.
Ralph Richardson, :le t. thin G. K. Chesterton. is a fine villain. and there are also Fay Wray, Paul Graetz and a spiral staircase.
" The Silent Passenger"
When you remember that this picture was made by Phcenix Films, the makers of Death At Broadcasting House, you will expect something distinctive: nor will you be disappointed by a thrilling story of a murder at Liverpool Street Station Hotel, and how Peter Iladclon, as the sort of silly ass Englishman we resent in American films, solves the mystery in the engine sheds at Stratford and frees John Loder Nom a suspicion shared even by his wife, Mary Newland. It is a thriller That thrills and what more can you ask? Without -asking you get fine acting and slick direction.
" Public Hero No. 1 " " Vagabond Lady "
The F.mpire has a thoroughly reliable double-feature programme comprising a fast. furious and thrilling gangster drama, suitably transposed in accord with modern fashion, in which Chester Morris plays
l'orceful lead with I.ionel Barrvmore as a drunken doctor and Jean Arthur as the love interest; this young woman is heading fast for stardom. With it is a "Robert Montgomery" type comedy with Robert Young in the Montgomery part as the wild son of a tamed father. Evelyn Venables is the heart-throb and participates in a first-class rough-and-tumble. Frank Craven and Reginald Denny are good in character. It is a picture that is full of good things without being great.
" Sweet Adeline"
A back-stage musical which starts well in a Hoboken beer-garden in the 'nineties, and is inclined to fade and grow vague towards the end. Again (the former occasion was Roberta), Irene Dunne is treated properly as a very charming young woman with a lovely liquid voice and no longer a semblance of irritating pronunciations. Hugh Herbert and Ned Sparks do their old stuff in their old inimitable way, and Phil Regan sings a nice little Irish melody, one of two or three quite attractive old-fashioned tunes. You'll enjoy it if you do not expect too much.
" The Case of the Curious Bride"
The Capitol This is the sort of picture that is all confusion and no conviction. It is so involved with red-herrings and boiled crabs that long before the solution is reached nothing, and nobody, matters, not even Claire Dodd in a sympathetic part. Makers of murder mystery pictures should remember that they must bring their characters to life before they can interest the public in their deaths and deathdeal i ngs.
" S. Petersburg"