Mixed Hollywood Grill
HOLLYWOOD has it all its own way this week in the West End—and mediocre Hollywood at that.
Not a British, French or Italian in sight and, while acknowledging that even now America provides our staple screen diet, four or five in a row makes for monotony.
Of course, there has been a bit of a hold-up of films waiting for the " Royal Command," but now that is settled—an American one, too, though with a British director. Anyway, let us hope for a more mixed menu next week.
In the meantime, the best of the week is a musical re-make of an old favourite. It is: MY SISTER EILEEN Certificate U: Gaumont Director: Richard Quine rilHE only credit title missing is that of the woman who wrote the original from which the play and the previous film were taken.
It was a based-on-fact account of two girls who come to New York to find careers, one on the stage. the other as a writer, and I remember reading that not long ago the Eileen of the title had died. But her memory is now trebly enshrined in these pleasant and entertaining pieces.
The two girls are now played by Janet Leigh as Eileen (the attractive blonde) and Ruth, played by Betty Garrett.
Ruth suffers from art inferiority complex in addition to the itch to write, and altogether has nothing like the fun Eileen has keeping the men at bay. But the sisters are devoted and loyal to each other, and life in their Greenwich village basement flat is never dull.
Sometimes a dog chases a cat through the grating, and even the cop on the beat gives them a friendly greeting as he goes by.
Of course, the famous conga scene. when a large section of the Brazilian Navy invades the basement, hasn't been left out and it provides a hilarious finale.
Into the action is skilfully dovetailed the odd song and dance by the girls, with the expert co-operation ot Robert Fosse and Tommy Rall. Jack Lemon, the third man in the case, although starred, hasn't very much to do.
So out of the week I find these , the nicest people to know. They have saved the day for America which, although the movies often try to persuade us to the contrary, is full of nice, friendly folk with nice dispositions.
I.UCY GALLANT Certificate U: Plaza Director: Robert Parrish
TEXAS was an ordinary, run-ofthe-mill piece of the United States until someone discovered it was an apparently inexhaustible oil well covered with a few feet of soil. Soon the place was a-swarm with " gushers "—men drilling their own special bit of land and nearly always striking oil.
Hick towns grew wealthy overnight. The population were bowed dawn with the weight of new found money—and, until Lucy Gallant appeared on the scene, the womenfolk, at least, had nothing to spend it on.
The men seemed to be content with drinking gallons and gallons of neat spirit out of bottles and making do without any elegancies at all.
Lucy Gallant finds herself marooned in a Texas wayside station and, seeing all this money going begging, decides to sell her unwanted trousseau. (A resourceful girl, the fact that she has been jilted because of her father's unsavoury reputation only spurs her on to action.) The women descend on her improvised store like locusts —and soon she is getting the local banker to stake her to a large shop.
Thenceforward the theme of the picture is the romance that blows hot and cold between Lucy (Jane Wyman) and ranch owner Casey Cole (Charlton Heston)—and the conflict between love, marriage and big business.
The film, apart from the two dominating personalities who play the two leading roles, gets its effects mainly by the contrasts it provides between the primitive beginnings and the rough types of the early days to the lavish luxury when the boom is at its height, including a super fashion display at which the real-life Governor of Texas—Governor Allan Shivers and Miss Edith Head, the famous dress designer, appear in person.
I don't think the commentary is meant to be funny—but funny it certainly is.
Well, fashion follows the dollar and here the dollars are thickest.
But neither dollars nor fashion make a worthwhile film, even one so expertly directed, so efficiently acted and so celeverly tailored as this.
GENTLEMEN MARRY BRUNETTES
Certificate A: London Pavilion Director: Richard Sale
TANE RUSSELL and Jeanne Crain, both prominent in the religious life of Hollywood (Jane, I believe, holds Bible classes, and Jeanne is well known in the Catholic community), could have chosen 4 less vulgar picture in which to display their talents.
The story concerns a sister act in vaudeville that moves to Paris and gets a job at the " Casino Day Paree."
Now, while undraped acts at both the Polies Bergeres and the Casino de Paris never leer or snigger, the vision of these two girls in teasing costumes, photographed in close-ups, are typical of dishonest Hollywood compromise. Especially when it is all done in the name of " modesty."
As a Frenchman remarks when the two emerge from a feather dance clad in garish " undies": "How vulgar! '
PETE KELLY'S BLUES Certificate A: Warners Director: Jack Webb
JTACK WEBB, of Dragnet fame (there must be few who don't know the satirical record of one of his American TV investigations) now emerges as a director as well as actor in a sordid little story of Kansas City's shady past when bootlegging and speakeasies expanded into a dance band racket.
Gangster Frank McCarg
(Edmond O'Brien) shanghaies the bands into his service, soaks them through high percentages and murders off anyone who has the guts to rebel.
The only people who are going to enjoy this one are the folk who are dance hand mad and grow lyrical over old time jazz. Ella Fitzgerald, the prima donna of that class of music, fills the CinemaSeope screen with her classic Negro head—and sings as though she meant every word, which of course she does.