Danish Witch Hunt
TALKING once to some young
Norwegians, I learned with sonic surprise that they did not regard their national playwright, Ibsen, as 100 per cent. Norwegian. " You see," they explained, " it was that long stay in Denmark during his impressionable years. His outlook became gloomy, pessimistic, depressing. He is certainly not typical of the average Norwegian."
Well, this week we have a chance to see Danish drama at source on the screen in Day of Wrath (Academy). It's a story of a witchhunt, told against the grim Calvinist background of the 17th century and is the work of a young Danish director and producer, Carl Th. Dreyer. Blood-curdling screams and groans are heard " off "; the torture chamber and the blazing fire; the lowering of the old witch, face downwards on to the flames—these arc not for the timid.
IT HAS QUALITY
The camera moves with a slow, heavy rhythm, registering one superb Dutch School interior after another, while the characters— the parson and his young wife, the aged mother and the young son, echo this rhythm—hovering, lingering, posing, drifting across the screen. Yet cruelty. infidelity, betrayal, death are here — moving stealthily, while iron-faced men talk of God and sin and penance.
There is definite quality and style in Dreyer's work. The only other work of his seen here—in limited circles—was the silent one Joan of Arc.
HELLO (AGAIN) TWINS
Tough luck on Bette Davis that Olivia de flavilland hit the town the week before she did with a twin story. And still tougher that Ofivia's story is Much better than Bette's. A Stolen Life (Warner's) which Elizabeth Bergner made before the war, was hardly worth reviving even though a make-do-and-mend job has been done on it with Dana Clark as a very boorish artist thrown in to balance Glenn Ford as the man both twins love.
Lovely sea-shots with the twins getting the worst of the storm in a yacht—and some technical work photographing Miss Davis in duplicate of the first .order.
So much for Denmark and Hollywood. Britain disappoints with a " utility " musical Spring Song (Astoria). The actors—Carol Raye (now lost to America), Peter Graves kind Lawrence O'Madden struggle bravely with a script that is funny in the wrong places.