By GRACE CONWAY
'Catholic Herald' Film Critic
GK. CHESTERTON'S voluininous cloak is waving cheerfully over the riverside studios on the banks of the Thames these days. Director Robert }lamer is putting the finishing touches to the keenly awaited "Father Brown."
Alec Guinness, who plays the part of the priest-detective, has had one of the toughest assignments ever. For the three months' filming he has been on the set every day.
I spent an afternoon there and walked straight into a crowd of black-coated "clerics" about to disembark from the Channel steamer at Boulogne (or was it Calais?). "Father Brown," clutching his suitcase and a large collection of brownpaper parcels, was holding up exasperated passengers on the gangway while he entered into a private debate with his fellow-passenger, Fr. Wilson (this was really Peter Finch, with a neat pointed beard).
In between "takes" I talked with Alec Guinness, "Why do you wear that anEnglish round hat?" I asked him.
"Blame Mr. Chesterton. He said it Was like that."
A Chesterton enthusiast is Mr. Guinness—as indeed everyone connected with this production seems to be. "I think he is a mach-neglected writer in this country," he said. "He's read far more abroad than he is here."
ON 7HE SET
When I looked sceptical he added: "Ask any handful of people you see walking along the street if they have ever read him. You'll find not many have."
"Well." I answered, "there are some pretty keen Chestertonians among the readers of my column. When I said that this was to be the first film ever made of 'Father Brown' they hastened to put me right. Apparently 'The Blue Cross' was filmed in Hollywood with the late Walter Connolly in the title role. And these same readers will be on the alert when this film comes into the cinema."
Standing on the set (oh, how the people in these film studios can stand for hour upon hour, watching take after take; oh, the patience and the good temper of everyone) was Thelma Schnee, an American who, with Director Robert Hamer, has written the script. And it was from her I learned that this film is not taken from any one of the stories in particular, but rather an amalgamation of several, "Obviously," said Miss Schnee, "there would not be enough material in one story to make a full-length film. So the script has had to he written round the whole Father Brown character."
Later, when Mr. Robert Hamer had a second to spare, he told me how, as joint script-writer, he had approached the subject.
"Underneath the story, the fiction layer as I might describe it, is the story of the pursuit of a soul, the soul of Flambeau, by Father Brown. Action and comedy there is going to be in plenty, but this is the underlying theme." Alec Guinness and Mr. Hamer are renewing an old association as leading man and director. Some years ago they made the famous "Kind Hearts and Coronets," one of Ealing's biggest money spinners, in which Alec Guinness played eight characters—the shocking Gascoynes.
Who is the man behind this Chestertonian venture? He is a tall, handsome, prematurely grey haired man, who also was among the Stan ders(and gliders) about on the set— Mr. Moss, who has bought the film rights of every Father Brown story. He intends to film them all in time—mainly for TV. He has, he told me. read Chesterton all his life.
THE BIGAMIST Odeon, Marble Arch: Certificate A WHILE accounts are reaching us VY that the British film, "Captain's Paradise"—the story of a ship's captain who has a wife in two ports has received the disapproval and censor's ban in the U.S.A., Hollywood sends us this lugubrious tale of a travelling salesman who has a wife in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.
Why do they approve of this and disapprove of ours? Because ours is a comedy; and here the bigamist ends up in a police court on his way to prison.
Edmond O'Brien is the salesman, Joan Fontaine the legal wife, Ida Lupin() the bigamous one. All three look the picture of misery most of
the time. •
It is an pretty heavy going. Best performance is by Edmund Gwenn who plays the part of an adoption society officer. His investigation into the character of the salesman—who, with his wife, has applied for a baby to adopt—leads to the discovery of the crime. Those who took for a happy ending won't get it here. Miss Lupin° leaves us with a great big question mark. What is going to happen when the salesman comes out of prison— and what about the baby of the bigamous marriage? Maybe she is contemplating a sequel—but I hope not.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR Certificate U
THIS is a Technicolor which June
Haver made before she went off to try her vocation as a nun. In spite of a rather corny script in which Dan Dailey. who plays opposite her, looks anything but happy, Miss Haver's personality comes through pleasant and attractive. Was this the picture which, as it were, broke the camel's back and made her decide to "get away from it all"?