THE .WORD AND THE ROSE Gimmont : Certificate U Director (for Walt Disney) : Ken Annakin ALT DISNEY digs out a bit of our own history that pi-obably evaded most of us at school. It is the story of Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII.
Like most of the royal women of her time, she was useful to England only as a bargaining counter. Mary Tudor was not in direct line of succession but Louis XII sought and secured her as his, Queen. That she was in love with a commoner, Charles Brandon, and be with her was just one of those complications to be brushed aside like a bothersome and rather audacious fly.
Mr. Disney hadn't to bother about historical archives. He found the whole plot for his film in the book "When Knighthood was in Flower.' But the usual Disney thoroughness has been applied to period and place, and it is all good fun.
Glynis Johns as the Welsh Mary Tudor is good casting. With her soft Celtic voice, rhythmic speech and deliberate, measured sentences, she is the perfect foil to James Robertson Justice's blustery King Hal.
After Charles Laughton.s flabby, bibulous versions, it is interesting to get this picture o&the man before he began to disintegrate. This King might well have been the friend and companion of Thomas More. But was Catherine of Aragon quite so sour and sallow as Rosalie Crutchley portrays her?
Richard Todd is the tough young commoner who later, when Louis was dead and the lovers were reunited, became Duke of .Suffolk. Mr. Todd is now Britain's pocket swashbuckler-in-chief. Robin Hood, the terror of Sherwood Forest, or Charles . Brandon, who can down France's ace wrestler it all sits easily upon his small but muscular shoulders. When you see him fencing, riding, wrestling, swimming, you can be sure it is Mr. Todd, for he scorns to use a double.
Times were when the dialogue moved from the Elizabethan to the music hall (especially that remark about once aboard the lugger), and when it does it is good for a laugh. But thank you, Mr. Disney, for turning for us one of the lighter and brighter pages of the Tudor era.
WHITE WITCH DOCTOR Odeon, Marble Arch : Certificate U Director : Henry Hathaway THE African scene is all the I. fashion. Here is Susan Hayward making her second film about it, now as a doctor's widow turned nurse and tackling the early 19thcentury Congo single-handed.
Apart from the (at first) cynical and grudging support of Robert Mitchum. she has to fight everything from tarantulas, snakes, disease and active opposition from the local witch doctor.
It's all pretty naive stuff, but well acted — not only by the principals but by the terrific African corps de
ballet, who seize on every occasion, grave or gay, to put on a show.
SHAME Plaza : Certificate A Director : George Stevens
WHENEVER you see Superman
Alan Ladd taking a blow from a man in a saloon bar and not retaliating, you ought to know that it is not because he is a coward. It is because his blow is so deadly and his gun arm so swift that means death to his opponent. And not being a thug but only a Snperman he never really kills unless it is absolutely necessary.
Once again Mr. Ladd is playing his famous role—and with his bright golden hair, steady blue eyes and poker face, you can't help liking him front the start.
So do Van Heflin, Jean Arthur and Brandon de Wilde—the farmer, his wife, and nine-year-old son on whose land he is given a job as he treksa Here is one of the instances when the big screen comes into its own, showing us the blue mountains of Wyoming fringing the great expanse of ranchers' country stretching for mile upon mile and all in Technicolor. T blood that bedews the faces of the men in the bar-room when Alan Ladd's patience is exhausted is also in glistening ruby Technicolor— and the noises of fists on jaws are truly frightful. A wild, savage film, with open war between the ranchers and the newlycome farmers who want to cultivate their land and raise their families in peace.
To do their really dirty work thg ranchers hire a city assassin—Jack Palance—but they reckon without Alan Ladd. who after despatching Trim and others, rides off into the hills. leaving three different heartaches—the farmer's, the wife's and the little boy's.
WATER BIRDS Gaumont : Certificate U A Walt Disney Production
I N the same programme is the
latest of that fine series of True Life Adventure made by Walt Disney's indomitable and patient team o f cameramen. (Remember "Seal Island," "Beaver Valley" and "Nature's Half Acre"?) "Water Birds" is well up to the high standard of its predecessors. Nor is the impish Disneyesque technique absent, with its orchestra that takes its time from a stalking flamingo or waddling pelican. with a final ballet danced to Lizst's Hungarian Rhapbody. A film to treasure and to see many limes.
LA MINUTE DE VERITE Academy Certificate A Director : Jean Delannoy "%TES. it's That Theme Again. An actress-wife with a young artist as her lover is found out by her doctor-husband who doesn't believe in the single standard (of morals). He has his own "affairs" but is shocked to find that his wife has been unfailitful. The story is told in a series of flashbacks as the wife, in her moment of truth, tells him how it all ,happened.
In the meantime the young man is dying of gas-poisoning in a near-by 11°sPhiitsaL T time the trite and so-muchused plot has three of France's top names to unfold it—Michele Mtngan, Jean Gabin and M. Delannoy. A newcomer, Walter Chiari, as the artist, makes an impressive debut before British audiences.
IMAGES MEDIEVALES Academy : Certificate LT Director : William Novik THIS is a beautifully photo' graphed series of illustrations (in colour) of 14thand 15th-century manuscripts from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. It runs for half an hour and shares the programme with the feature film.