Page 6, 2nd May 1952

2nd May 1952
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd May 1952 — !Savage story ."

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Organisations: Mexico police
Locations: Mexico City


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!Savage story ."

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LC 3 OLVIDADOS: The Young and the Damned (Academy: Certificate X) Director: Luis Bufiuel.

"F OR the first time audiences in this country see the work of the Spanish director who at one time (back in the 1920s) made surrealist films in France in collaboration with Salvador Dalt. French audiences reacted against his work so violently that his film "L'Age d'Or" was banned and he could get no further financial backing in France.

He went back to Spain where, according to information supplied to me by the management of the Academy cinema, "he made a savage documentary on the almost sub human existence of a Spanish peasant community"----also in the surrealist tradition.

After a sterile stay in Hollywood. with 16 years when he produced nothing, Mr. Brufiel went over the border into Mexico, and the result is another "savage" film. semi-documentary in treatment, about the life of the slum children and adolescents of Mexico City.

"Los Olvidados" means, if I recollect my meagre knowledge of Spanish correctly, "the forgotten ones." Forgotten, or ignored, children we find in every city. Their type of law-breaking remains very much the same even if the games they play vary. Here the unkempt young criminals-in-embryo play "hull-fights," but a game is soon abandoned if there is a blind man to he robbed or a legless cripple to be knocked off his wheeled platform.

There is evil wherever you look in Mr. Brunel's finely photographed and well-acted production. Everything has been thrown into one side of the scale—the meanest type of theft, bullying, cruelty to animals, murder, rape, male prostitution, adultery, wild-beast fights between the boys. There is no yardstick of normal or decent behaviour by which to measure all this debauchery—only some half-hearted officials at the "farm" reformatory who seem totally unequal to the task.

It says much for the acting ability of the Mexican children—recruited on the spot—that the film has impact and vitality. Only two members of the cast are professional actors—the lecherous blind man and the mother of one of the gangsterettes—and they are not indicated.

This is a terrible. sordid record. taken, as we are assured. from the Mexico police files and utterly destructive.


(Odeon, Leicester Square: Certificate U) Director: Fred Zimmerman FYI not going to say that this is the lbest Western yet. but I enjoyed it. It avoids all the cliches (except for a few moments at the end) and is tense and taut as a bowstring.

To a treeless. sun-dried. dusty onestreet town one day in 1875 comes news that Frank Miller, who had terrorised the place five years ago, is out of prison. The great man himself is due on the noon train. The marshal who was responsible for his conviction years before has just handed in his badge and is about to go off on his honeymoon. The new marshal is not due to arrive until next day. Meantime, the town is wide open.

And so the marshal decides to stay and deal with the killer.

That's the skeleton on which Fred Zimmerman has built his picture. The whole action is packed into an hour —from 11 to 12—and the camera swings between the little shack of a station with the lonely rail track stretching into limitless prairie— where the three members of Miller's gang await the train—to the dusty street, the bar-room, the deserted hotel, and the wooden chapel that comprise the town.

Up and down the street the marshal tramps, battered by the heat, beaten by the apathy of the men who refuse to join him in meeting Miller and running him out of the town. And all the time the hour is shrinking and the train is coming nearer.

There is an obscure tangled woman affair in the background— never fully stated. But it's enough to bring a dark-eyed Spanish girl (Katy Jurado) and fair-haired Grace Kelly {the marshal's Quaker wife) into the picture.

Gary Cooper. rangy, tough, a bit haggard these days, meets the mood Zimmerman has set. He makes the frustration, disillusion, fatigue, doggedness of the man real and compelling. By the time the long-expected whistle of the train engine breaks the silence and the first 'puff of smoke stains the sky, an almost unbearable climax is achieved.

The final shooting in and around the deserted town is, I'm afraid, back among the Western clicUs: The newest thing in Westerns, the theme song. is With us again (remember "Rancho Notorious"?). but this time it is more like a tune buzzing round the marshal's head—and not too extraneous.

Black mark for the full orchestra that accompanies a light in a stable.

CARBINE WILLIAMS (Empire: Certificate A) Director: Richard Thorpe WHEN Hitler was in prison he wrote a book that set the world alight. When Marsh Williams—the hero of this Illm—was in prison he designed and built a revolutionary gun that could fire bullets more easily and faster than had ever been done before.

Actually it was a prison within a prison—known as "The Hole"—to which he had been condemned for answering back. On a bread and water diet he forced himself to think of something that would take his mind off the pain inflicted by conditions reminiscent of a Chinese torture chamber.

When the American soldiers went into action in the last war "they carried eight million of the rifles," so Wendell Corey, as the prison warden, tells Williams's small son as the picture fades to a finish.

This is one more triumph of acting lor James Stewart, on whose lanky frame the "boiled sweet" prison garb of Williams hangs limp and despairing.

Sent to this brutal prison—now a thing of the past, we are assured— with its chain-gangs and brutal warders, Williams, who was not guilty of the crime of which he was convicted, saved his sanity by being allowed to work on his gun, and— who knows?—may have helped us to win the war.

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