KIM (Emma Director : Victor Savilie
RUDYARD Kipling's fierce partisans and his equally fierce critics—who was it who described him as " the hooligan of English literature "?—may find themselves in opposite camps about the way Hollywood has interpreted his classic. I have never read it. Nor have I ever been to India and so I must take this screen version at its face value.
We ought to be getting reconciled to American boys portraying typically British characters for us. Bobbie Driscoll made quite a good shot at Jim Hawkins. Dean Stockwell as Kim has matured considerably since last we saw him. He seems to have left the " little boy " behind him and at times here the boy is very much father to the man. Perhaps he is going to be that rare phenomenon, a child actor who develops into an adult who can act.
The India of 1885 is photographed in Technicolor with much skill, and although the pageantry we always associate with that country is there, it is not over-emphasised.
There isn't a Blimp in sight, nor are there any of those terrifying mem-sahibs that have done so much to make people squirm when ever Poona or Simla is mentioned.
It is a pretty fantastic story that Kipling has to tell—about the orphan child of an Irish soldier who becomes an active member of the British Secret Service. in between leading about an aged lama from Tibet. You have to accept the fantastic situation —just as you must accept Errol Flynn as Red Beard, the most daring spy of them all.
If you aren't prepared to do this, then "Kim " is not your picture. 1 like this boy Kim and the way Dean Stockwell plays him. The scenes in the Khyber Pass are impressive—and there is a terrific climax when, after rescuing the intrepid boy who is dangling over a horrible precipice. Errol Flynn topples a giant rock down the hill, starting a landslide that destroys the advancing enemy patrol. making even Samson's destruction of the Temple look quite small beer.
L'ASSASSINAT DU PERE NOEL (BraucELEv)
Director : Christian-Jaque
FROM the very beginning this unpretentious French story of a village in the Haute Savoie bewitched me.
It seems to have everything--a fairy story, a murder, suspense, humour, a nice dusting of horror, and some adorable French children. It all happens on Christmas Eve. between the time that the old curd is preparing to hang the chapel's greatest and only treasure—the diamond ring of St. Nicholas--on the crib, where it is to glitter as the " star in the east," and the Midnight Mass, where the climax of the evening is staged. In those few hours we get to know the whole village--its " mad lady," its old crones, its pompous little mayor and the officious pharrnacien, the baron who has come home from his travels with a strange malady— and the old toy maker who is the Pere Noel of the village, beautifully played by the late Harry Baur.
Many a scene comes back to me as I write, such as the one where the two small boys go out to look for the missing Pere Noel, shouting his name over the snow-covered mountains, their voices coming back in an echoing canon. Lovely, eerie, unforgettable.
France has sent us lots of far more ambitious films than this. but never one so full of delight.
THE DARK MAN .. (ODEON, LEICESTER SQUARE) Director : Julian Wintle
WHY is it that British crime films so seldom chill the spine or curdle the blood? This one fails to come to life, perhaps because gun battles do not happen in England and black marketeers are not the stuff of which melodrama is made.
Edward Underdown, who made such a promising debut in " The Dividing Line," is one of the new " public school " cops and has a very pleasant screen personality, but Maxwell Reed, the murdering " spiv," never bring the character to any kind of life.
Best features are the " small part " players and the big expanse of seashore around Rye that the camera deals with in a really masterly way.
711 OCEAN DRIVE (LONDON PAVILION) Director: Joseph H. Newman BRUAIN, land of compromise, allows bookmakers to practise under certain conditions. America only allows betting on the Tote. And so the bookmakers go underground. with results like those chronicled in this tightly-packed story, which shows the decline and fall of a young telephone engineer who takes the easy road to riches.
The one fear of the racketeers who profit by the American racing laws is that bookmakers shall be made legal—and so all the machinery of corrupt politics is brought into operation to prevent just that.
The final round up of the racketeerin-chief (well played by Edmond O'Brien) takes place at the famous Boulder Dam — a change from the sewer chases that have now. let us hope, disappeared.
" MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL"
AFTER three years' work on the film version of T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral," the end is now in sight.
Mr. Eliot himself met members of the Press at the weekend in a London church which has been used as a studio and where a good deal of the film has been " shot." Canterbury Cathedral has not been used because of modern touches, such as wiring. On view were sets, costumes, properties used in the film. Many of the materials have been woven on hand looms and are exact copies of models in museums and other collections.
Additional scenes have been written for the film by Mr. Eliot. and he himself plays the part of the Fourth Tempter.
I understand that the world premiere may take place later in the year, although it is not certain that it will be in time for the Festival of Britain.