NEW LOOK FOR CATECHETICS
By GRACE CONWAY
Gathering in Eichstaett, Germany, under the joint presidency of Cardinal Agagianian and of Cardinal Gracias of Bombay, this International Study week is the first such meeting between world experts on the teaching of the fundamentals of the Faith.
In his opening speech last Friday, Cardinal Gracias recalled Pope John's Encyclical Princeps Pastorem on the missions which contains " the directives to help us in the adaptations of the modern catechetical renewal to the needs
of the missions". .
The meeting has a twofold purpose: to adapt modern catechetical experience to the needs of the missions, and to formulate a guide or " catechetical creed " that would set down basic principles of catechetics, axioms for training catechists and outlines of religious textbooks.
The "catechetical creed " will be translated into many languages and although officially restricted to missionary activity is expected to affect the instruction of prospective converts everywhere.
In the course of the week the bishops have found great appeal in the emphasis of the experts on catechetics as a means not only to knowledge of the Faith but also as a means to a better Christian life in an age of materialism and constant Communist threat.
Cardinal Gracias underlined a point prominent in the week's agenda: how to utilise the doctrinal qualities inherent in the Church Liturgy.
He said: " Missionary catechists must be in contact with the liturgy as a means of creating new life in Christ in Christians . .. Liturgy is eminent in catechesis on account of its continual insistence on concentrating our attention on the essence of Christianity—our way to the Father, in union with Christ through the Holy Spirit . .
This wedding of the liturgy with instruction was given special attention at the conference because of the nationalisation of schools and other institutions in some mission areas. In some such places, it was pointed out. Sunday Mass is sometimes the only contact that Catholics have with the Church.
It was further pointed out that this same doctrinal power of the liturgy could be put to work in non-mission countries, where Sunday Mass is the usual contact with the Church after schooldays have finished.
Bishop Weber, S.V.D., exiled from his See of lehow by the Chinese Communists, urged that the first parts of the Mass with its readings from scripture, its hymns and its prayers should be conducted in the vernacular. The first part of the Mass. known as the Mass of the Catechumens, is a service of instruction, he emphasised.
The study meek was held under the auspices of the Institute of Mission Apologetics in Manila, Philippines. and organised by Fr. Hofinger, S.J., who also arranged last years Nijmegen Congress on Liturgy in the Missions.
THE ENTERTAINER Certificate X: Odeon, Marble Arch Director: Tony Richardson
A FTER a somewhat chequered A
career, the film of John Osborne's play now crimes to the West End with Sir Laurence Olivier in the title role. The adaptation to the screen has been made by the author, and Nigel Kneale has collaborated with him in writing the screenplay. The censor, as you see, has given it an X certificate—chiefly, so I understand, because of the " fruity " dialogue, rude gestures, and one "love " episode in a caravan.
We hear an awful lot about unemployment among stage folk— and "The Entertainer " makes us wonder how more aren't on the list. For Archie Rice (our hero) is certainly hanging on by his eyebrows—a not very talented comic
whose strong line is innuendo and who (the year in 1956) is using a technique that must have been threadbare long ago.
But Archie off the stage is certainly a " card". He is the Don Juan of the lesser seaside spots, and his path from his earliest days seems to have been strewn with discarded women-including his own wife. Indeed, he confesses to his daughter Jean (Joan Plowright): " You had just been born when your mother found me in bed with Phoebe." Phoebe (Brenda Banzie) is the second Mrs. Rice and she has spent the years watching her husband's infidelities and consoling herself with gin.
It's all one terrific joke to Archie, and so is the fact that for twenty years he has managed to dodge the Income Tax man. Like another John Osborne " hero ". he is quite unlikeable, and it is surprising to see that Jean and his son bother their heads about him. Does Mr. Osborne want us to be sorry for him on the lines of "Laugh, Clown, Laugh " ?
If the central character, then, is a poor sort of thing, his entourage is fascinating. When the family is gathered together-Grandpa. a one time star of the old music hall (a rare bit of character drawing by Roger Livesey), Phoebe, Frank (Alan Bates), Jean. and Archie himself—there is fine teamwork with Phoebe having
alcoholic hysterics, Grandpa mumbling about his past gloriel, Jean trying to keep the peace, and Archie laying about him with a typical poison-barbed Osbornian tongue. All gripping and very funny in its own wry way.
Whether or not you consider Archie Rice an anachronism placed as he is in the fifties, there can be little argument about the brilliance of Sir Laurence Olivier's interpretation of him. Brenda de Banzie's Phoebe has both heart and pathos; Joan Plowright, however, has too many static moments and her Jean emerges as a rather negative person — disappointing, but probably the fault of the way her part has been written, or directed.
I found some of the dialogue difficult to hear—but maybe that's just as well. One or two slealy jokes that get through could have done with a bit of muffling, too.
THE APARTMENT Certificate A: Leicester Square Theatre Director: Billy Wilder
LIKE " The Gazebo ", this much acclaimed film gets off on the wrong foot. " The Gazebo " starts off with the premiss that murder' and disposing of a dead body are frightfully funny. "The Apartment" wants us to laugh our heads off at the spectacle of a humdrum little insurance clerk letting off his flat night after night to influential members of the staff so they can pursue their extra-marital affairs with the minimum of fear of being found out. No, he doesn't take money which would bring the apartment near the brothel class: he just gets the promise of an executive job away from the crowded room packed with little men like himself arid comptometers. If you think that's funny, go ahead and laugh.
Jack Lemmon plays this part, and sometimes he seems almost like a half-wit, sitting shivering and underclad on a park bench while the "lovers " enjoy the warmth and seclusion of his shabby little room.
Half-way through, the whole thing switches to drama and near tragedy. The lift girl (Shirley MacLaine), whom the clerk loves in his humble and simple way, is taken to the apartment by one of the real " high-ups" (Fred MaeMurray) and, when she realises that he is not going to keep his promise about divorcing his wife and marrying her, she swallows half a bottle of sleeping pills. The little clerk finds her well on the road to death.
So swift is this turn in the tale that the audience couldn't stop laughing even while the poor distracted man is desperately trying to make some strong coffee to revive her.
Summing up, I don't think the screen offers any sadder spectacle than the American businessman in pursuit of happiness. Hole in the corner, sordid, pathetic—it's all that, here, put over by three of Hollywood's best actors.
POLLYANNA Certificate U: Studio One Director: David Swift
MARY HAYLEY MILLS: what a girll We saw what a great little actress she was in "Tiger Bay ". No wonder Walt Disney was determined to get her for his production of this American child classic—about the girl who comes to a sombre, unto' guid small American town, ruled over by her rich aunt (Jane Wyman), and transforms the population en bloc into real likeable folk.
Mary almost succeeds in making us forget that the film is at least twenty minutes too long. Whether she is putting the hell-fire parson searching the Bible for " glad " texts, softening up the Squeers of the village, making a selfish hypochondriac (a lovely performance this by Agnes Morehead) into an extrovert, she does it all with complete directness that keeps all sentimentality at bay. It's only when the grown-ups take over that the film melts into sob-stuff with the poor girl en route to have a big operation.
In support Miss Hayley Mills has some of the most famous veterans of the American entertainment world--Karl Malden (the parson), Adolphe Menjou, and Donald Crisp among others. Yes: this can be chalked up as another Walt Disney triumph.