Grace Conway on Films
BLACKMAILED (GAUMONT AND M ARBLE Ault) (British : A Director : Marc Ailegret.
LONDON comes convincingly bui unobtrusively on to the film map in a neatly-made thriller that uses the hackneyed theme of blackmail in an unhackneyed way. Source : Elizabeth Myers' novel
" Mrs. Christopher."
The blackmailer (played by the urbane James Robertson Justice) lives in one of those walled-in fastnesses in Hampstead, hiding his crime behind a façade of benevolence and hospital committees. He makes, however, the somewhat unlikely error, in one so successful, as to bring three of his victims on a paying-up assignment on Further, he conducts his blustering interview with one of them loudly enough to be heard by any stray caller outside the study window.
Once these improbabilities have been used to get the story going— and surely with a little thought they could have been overcome — the pace is steady and progressive.
What Marc Allegret—whose last film was such a disappointment— has done so effectively-is to establish each character in the cast in the first few moments of his or her appear
ance. The anxious girl riding a bicycle (Shirley Wright), the ageing almoner (Fay Compton). and the three victims — played by Mai Zetterling, Robert Flemyng and Dirk Bogarde. We know these actors well enough but they have seldom been better exploited.
Michael Gough, too. is excellent in the difficult role of a bed-ridden invalid, peevish and selfish. Even the minor characters are drawn with economy and care.
Especially welcome is the appearance of a newcomer, Joan Rice, who if she is not greeted hysterically as yet "another new find," only to fizzle out in her next picture, certainly has the makings bf an actress.
She plays the part of a girl escaped from a reformatory, the '.girl friend" of the deserter, with vitality and assurance. Exc'ept that she speaks in a style few reformatory children could hope to. this is work of a quality rare among our home-grown girls. As I write this, Fleet Street below tile IS gently purring in the mid-day lunch break—and with no hint that fugitive deserters could stage a newspaper office roof-top chase with the Yard in pursuit. But that is what provides the climax to a tale that dares to bring Fay Compton on in the finale to tell us that our lives are " best left to God." Nor is the invalid husband allowed to die to make way for the romance between his wife and the doctor.
Indeed, when I look back on this film 1 find it has the staggering courage to step Out of the assembly line, and because of that it approximates to something like life.
LA REGLE DU JEU (EveaviaaN, HAMPSTEAD) (French : A') Director : Jean Renoir THE last film Renoir directed before he left for Hollywood. Vintage ; 1938—but if they had had the cinema in 1789 it would have been magnificent propaganda " pour la r6volution." In other wards, it is all about the goings-on among Paris plutocrats who have wild house-parties at their houses in the country — with interludes below stairs to show that all is not well there, either. It fails artistically because it is 99 per cent. comedy and ends with a murder by the least venal of them all — the poor gamekeeper whose wife has quite obviously been corrupted by the behaviour of her " betters."
Pierre Magnier, Dalio. Mita Parely and Carette with Renoir himself act out this uneven tale.
MANEGES (Ta-rt..Ea) (French: 'X') Director : Yves Ailegret
GLOOMY sin—with Simone
Signoret as a troIlope and Jane Marken as her mother who deceive and "soak " Bernard Blier as a rather stupid middleaged proprietor of a riding school. Sordid and thoroughly deserving its. " X " rating.
PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (ODEON, LEICESTER SQUARE) (Certificate • A') Director : Albert Lewin WAGNER, thou shouldst be living at this hour to see how Senta has been deposed in favour of an American girl crooner— for that is what has happened to the legend of the Flying Dutchman.
The picture of the tempest-driven
ship, tossing crazily about the five Oceans. gives way to a streamlined yacht lying at anchor in the blue Mediterranean off a stylish Spanish
resort, The Dutchman is James Mason.
Senta's successor is Ava Gardner. a femme !Wale who has never even heard of the " Flying Dutchman," and whose earnings at the " mike" have brought her to luxurious rest in this earthly paradise—or so it seems. photographed as it is by the hand of a master. Jack Cardiff, in Technicolor. and utterly believable.
Well, there are no proprietary rights to the legend. arid there's no doubt that beautiful Ada is more pleasing to the eye than a plump German dramatic soprano.
James Mason, more saturnine than tormented, may well suggest that the punishment of living on into this wracked century far more than fits the Dutchman's crime.
Does it all amount to a good film? No.
The whole is too much weighted with extraneous stuff — a world speed-test on the sands ; a session in a bullring. with Mario Cabre giving a virtuoso performance. authentic Spanish dancing in the local night club —all these. exciting in themselves; but even with the academic, detached voice of Harold Warrender as the narrator, the connecting link strains and creaks.
MURDER WITHOUT CRIME
(TIVOLI AND ASTORIA)
(Certificate `A') Director : J. Lee-Thompson
TRANSLATION of the play of tbe same name with Dennis Price giving one of his characteristic performances as a dilletante with an evil character. and Derek Farr as the man who gets murder on his conscience after an evening of mixed drinks—pernod, whisky and champagne.
THE Society of St. Paul has made an exceptional film, " Triptych," with the great Ugh singing the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria, the Cujus Animam from Rossini's Stabat Mater, and Adeste Fidelis, which he recorded especially for the sound track when he was in England last year.
The three " panels " which form the subject of the documentary are three of the world's great masterpieces — Crivelli's " Annunciation." Botticelli's " Nativity " and Mantegna's " Calvary."
The whole takes only about 15 minutes—and so it is a documentary to look out for at your local cinema. I understand that the bookings have not yet been arranged, so wait until they are announced, which should be in a week or two.