Mrs. Mike (ODEON, LEICL.S1 LH
Director : Louis King
IF I were to do the obvious thing I would start off this week with the sharply-glittering Alfred Hitchcock thriller Stage Fright. But I have deposed it from first place because I find in Mrs. Mike an idea which all but the superficial will spot. Now, first I've got to confess that as I sat down to watch this tilm 1 thought it was going to be about some awful radio personality (or the wife of one) and, as Dick Powell was in the male lead, that we were going to have a good deal of radio crooning, Not a bit of it. Mr. Powell only sings once-and that in a snowbound hut in the frozen North West (Canada). He is accompanied on a wheezy harmonium in The Rose of Tralee by a leathery-faced wife of a Mountie and the whole thing's over before you know it's begun.
Sgt. Mike Flanagan (Dick Powell) has brought his Boston-bred young wife (Evelyn Keyes) to rough it in the grim territory where Mounties operate.
They live isolated from the world, with only a handful of Indians as neighbours-and as for doctors and dentists, well. Mike looks after that. Kathy (the wife), warned as she has been, puts a brave face on things until the arrival of her baby is imminent.
Then she panics.
Brought up in a world of clinics. anteand post-, where childbirth is so often met with fear and foreboding, her courage forsakes her when the child of her Indian neighbour is born dead.
So Mike and Kathy set out on a desperate trip up river in search of a doctor. The baby is born on the way with the help of a North-West woman veteran and, turning her back on the harsh life mapped out for her, Kathy insists that her husband asks to be transferred a bit nearer to civilisation.
How she has cause to regret this choosing of the easy road is tragically brought home to her when her two-year-old child becomes one of the victims of a diphtheria epidemic -a fate that would never have overtaken her if she had accepted her destiny.
Well, there's the idea. It has a lesson even for those who run.
Dick Powell completely convinces me as the weather-scarred Mountie with a high sense of duty and responsibility-and human enough to allow his wife's pleadings to go against his better judgment.
But Evelyn Keyes, although she has all the studio aids to suggest a woman in the throes of labour pains, never quite loses the atmosphere of the studio. However, she is the only one in the cast who has this defection.
Mrs. Mike may not be a brilliant film, but it has the salt of life in its making-and 'you, like me, may remember it long after the meringues on the menu have been forgotten.
Stage Fright (Wsinkreas) Director: Alfred Hitchcock AN D now for the glitter. What a cast Mr. Hitchcock has assembled for this latest thriller-Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Dame Sybil Thorndike, Alastair Sint in the principal roles. with lots more household
names to follow.
The film, then. becomes a battle of personalities with equal limelight for all, scrupulously fair photography for all and fair do's in the dialogue for all. I enjoyed the whole thing. It's one of those lighthearted murder mysteries with large chunks of comedy thrown in. When I saw it, the crowded auditorium laughed so much that many lines of dialogue were lost.
Mr. Hitchcock is said to appear in most of his films for a moment. My guess is this time he is the dead body, face turned away from the camera. And if this turns out to be correct, at the time of writing I have neither seen the fact in print nor heard it. Anyway, the body has the same spherical shape as " Hitch."
I have no intention of analysing the plot. To begin with, " Hitch" plays a vast trick on you, sending you on a false trail.
So go and enjoy yourselves, and don't get all superior about it. Much disappointment has been expressed at Richard Todd's work here. But it serves people right for believing that fantastic fanfare of publicity about him after he had made good in one big character part.
How credulous critics and public
are. No actor ever sailed to the firmament on the strength of one starring role.
Black Hand (Pt.,szA) Director : Richard Thorpe THE Italians are getting the sort of publicity I should think few countries would relish in two of the current films.
The Mafia, vendettas, blackmail, fraud, murder, jostle each other, giving us a sort of genealogical table that came to full flower in the gangster epoch of Chicago.
Gene Kelly, one of the most intelligent and competent actors in Hollywood, "graduates " from musical comedy to straight acting and makes a rather phoney story almost incredible.
J. Carrot Naish, as an Italian New York cop kali a heroic' movement among the city's Italian colony (circa 1908) in an effort to defeat the Black Hand-already operating in a " protection racket."
Johnny (Gene Kelly) is out to get them for the murder of his father. Knives fly and bombs go off, buildings blow up-and you are pretty sure that whoever gets killed it won't be Johnny. Nor is it.
Deported (Gaustobrr arin MARBLE ARCH PAVILION) HERE)1....1ERE we have the Italian theme reverse, with a Sing Sing convict (Jeff Chandler) getting himself deported to his native land, using his illgotten gains to get into the good graces of a local Countess, repenting, and living happily after. The acting is good-and all but two in the lead are Italians or, at
least, Europeans, and there s a gem of a performance by French Claufr Dauphin as a detective.