: Henry Koster W ELL, what a to-do ! Seldom v has a new film caused such depression and gloom among the It is difficult to know which is the bigger crime—Cinemascope or the film which has been used to launch it. Maybe Hollywood must blame itself for beating the loud drum so strenuously and so long. That has a way of putting critics' backs up in advance.
'I hen, a film with a religious subject from across the Atlantic rarely if ever gets by. So "The Robe" starts out with i double handicap.
Obviously, to be fair, the film has to be discussed under two headings— the new medium in which it is shown, and the picture itself.
The new wide, curved screen and the illusion of depth is the invention of a small, bearded. elderly Frenchman, Henri Chretien, who came to London last May when the Press were given a preview of this revolutionary new process. This. then. was a second viewing for London—but even so T was not prepared for ttfc first thrill when the curtains parted practically from wall to wall of the cinema and revealed a staggeringly impressivemarket. view of the Roman slave From then on it was expanse and spaciousness all the way, and so far as scenery and marble halls. fardistant glimpses of Rome. the sweep of the blue sea beyond the cliffs at Capri. arc concerned 1 found Cinemascope exciting.
Except for momentary blurs now and again. filming was smooth and clear. Faces in gigantic close-ups suffered the most. Not for the intimate moment is this new technique. but rather for spectacle, pageant and crowds.
And in this instance it is responsible for one magnificent moment. It is Calvary. The Crucifixion is over. All hut the mourning women, the handful of disciples and the tired and bored Roman soldiery are left, It is a scene of untidy, dusty desolation; the wind is rising; the sky is darkening and the three crosses are growing indistinct; the colour is beginning to drain out of the day. The Tragedy is over. For this sequence alone, I think we must forgive "The Robe" much.
Some episodes have horrified people. As the Roman tribune (Richard Burton) stands beneath the Cross, he finds his hand has been splashed with blood. Victure Mature, as a Greek slave, stands far too long, his face in enormous close-up, gazing up at the Cross—doing his best, but not succeeding, to look tragic and sincere.
Richard Burton. as the Roman tribune to whom Pilate delegates the job of superintending the Crucifixion, does everything humanly possible with his exacting role, whether he is fighting savagely across the Palestine village with the Roman centurion, or shying at the sight and touch of Christ's robe which he has won in that carefree game of dice beneath the Cross. But often the melodrama is too much for him,
It has been interesting to read the divergent views of the critics on "The Robe." One has called Mature's acting "atrocious"; another thinks that his is the best performance. One singles out Jay Robinson's Caligula as "excellent" (with which I agree): another says his is the only bad performance.
Most agree.that Burton's portrayal of the tribune is remarkable, but one finds it relieved by "little light and
s h a priest to whom I spoke was Onee." disgusted with the whole film. One well-known actor said : "After this, Armageddon" I
My advice is: Go and see it. Discerning cinemagoers will be able to weed out the chaff from the wheat— and the wheat is worth garnering.
BEAT THE DEVIL Warners : Certificate U Director : John Huston ALL I can say about this latest John Huston film is that it is "time off for fun." Not a minute of this involved story about a gang of uranium prospectors, headed by Robert Morley, who include murder in their curriculum is intended to be taken seriously.
Jennifer Jones, whom we are asked to accept as a girl from Earl's Court, threatens at the last minute to he inst a Hollywood floozie, hut remains an enigma to the end. Edward Underdown (her husband) poses as a member of the landed aristocracy; whereas his mother keeps a boarding house in Earl's Court.
Humphrey Bogart. a "creature" of the uranium gang, is merely out to make a lot of money; his wife (Italian Gina Lollobrigida) is ready to countenance everything, including murder, if there are dollars to he made. Ivor Barnard as the gang's professional killer adds his own bit of craziness.
John Huston gathers this strange crew together in a Mediterranean port awaiting transport to Central Africa, where there are uranium mines to he exploited illegally. Huston shuffles them all like an Alice in Wonderland pack of cards, puts them on a tramp steamer commanded by a drunk Italian captain, gets them shipwrecked on the African coast and arrested by the local Arab chieftan whose sole ambition is to get to know Rita Hayworth.
That Scotland Yard eventually appears in the person of Bernard Lee and marches the gang off for extradition does nothing to cloud the slightly looney comedy that hovers over the whole picture. I think we may take this as time off for comedy while Mr. Huston is cooking up his next serious production, which, he tells me, is to he "Moby Dick," with Gregory Peck heading the cast.
Humphrey Bogart may have his name at the top of the bill here—but Robert Morley romps off with the honours.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER ikAUCH to the dismay of many -1-V1who would have liked to have seen "The Heart of the Matter," it had to he withdrawn from the Carlton after a very short run to make way for "Julius Cmsar." Now I learn that it is going into the programme at the Rialto Cinema today (Friday). Details about its release in the provinces will be announced in this column as soon as they arc known.
MEET MR. LUCIFER Gaumont : Certificate U Director : Anthony Pelissier ONE of Ealing's lesser products in which a whole host of actors and actresses whose names are household words in this country appear.
The central character is a television set which is an "instrument of the devil" inasmuch as it is used as a disrupting element in the life of (a) a retired accountant (Joseph Tomelty), a young married couple (Peggy Cummins and Jack Watling). and a unco' Edward Underdown in "Beat the
guid young Scotsman (Gordon Jackson).
It is homely. sometimes pedestrian comedy but I imagine everyone who possesses a TV set will find it tremendous fun.
As Mr. Lucifer himself, Stanley Holloway gets very little opportunity to exploit his own special gifts.
YCW leaders see the Pope Mgr.. Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers, was accompanied by Patrick Keegan. international secretary, when he was received in audience by the Pope at the end of a week's visit to Rome, Mgr. Cardijn conferred on various problems affecting young workers with Cardinal Ottaviani, Pro-Secretary of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. Mgr. Montini. Pro-Secretary of State, and Archbishop Bernardini. Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.