HOUSE OF WAX (Warners: Cert iicute X and "H"-L.('-C.) (A 3-D Film) Director: Andre de Toth
HREE-DIMENSIONAL films grow apace. Technically, for both sight and sound, this Warner production is a considerable advance on anything shown so far. True, we still have to perch those "specs" on our noses and over our own glasses, but once they are on we can forget them.
Like his predecessors in this field,
the producer has obviously leant over backwards at points in the story to exploit this new development—but the only novelty—and quite stimulnting one is when one of the characters walks turbo the screen from. apparently, the auditorium. Suddenly his hack looms tip among us and he walks away from us—reversing the normalp rocess.
The story itself is one that was used before the war and, as far as 1 can remember, it was pretty gruesome even then. Were we less sophisticated in those days or was it better done? Whatever the reason, 1 have to report that the really horrific parts drew happy laughter from quite a vast audience. The arrival of a horsedrawn vanload of cops looking even inch "Keystone" in time to save the heroine from a sticky and waxy end, is greeted with wild cheers.
Vincent Price, of the tired. musical voice, plays the part of the professor who gets his beloved wax museum burned down by his insur
ance-seeking partner. 3-D has a grand time showing the waxen faces
dissolving into Picasso-like distortions, and surveying Mr. Price and his partner (Roy Roberts) fighting in and out of the flameand smokefilled rooms.
As the smoke drifts over our heads I find myself fervently hoping that realism will stop at the eyes and the Cars. Who wants to smell smoke and burning wax anyway?
Deprived of his beloved wax images and with a face burned beyond recognition, the thwarted and frustrated professor remakes his museum using bodies from the morgue as models—later he provides his own models by a neat system of garroting. Thereafter they are placed under a stream of boiling pink wax and are soon ready for the exhibition.
Apart from that one visual surprise, House of Wax marks a big stride in the recording of the human voice. Pretty hammy as much of the diadogue is, its presentation is excellent. Then there is the bubbling of the boiling wax, and the screams of Phyllis Kirk as she is pursued by the professor. They are near enough and real enough to justify the K and the H tree above).
Black mark for the jokes in the morgue, and the murder by hanging Iii a lift shaft. Any laughter these sequences provoke is hysterical. I find their in very' had taste.
With this considerable technical innovation in the movies which is arriving just in time to fight the TV absenteeism, it seems to me that the arbiters of taste will have to get very busy. It's going to be much easier to offend than with the flattics.
THE MAN BEHIND THE GUN (London Pavilion: Certificate U) Director: Felix Feist I1' would be easy to call this a run of the mill Western, but I find there is just too much killing, stabbing and
head-hashing in .it. No wonder that American parents and teachers are worried at the type of Western films that are being pumped into their homes by way of TV.
There i. in too much violence in them :uicl hand to hand slaughter. Killer-in-c ief here is Randolph
h p Scott who has been detailed to clean tip mid-19th-century Los Angeles. I simply lost count of the dead bodies.
THE STORY OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN Plata: Certi&ate U Director: Sidney Gilliat THEATRICAL progression is a peculiar thing. Offcnhach shook Paris out of the musical doldrums in the early part of the 19th century. In turn, it look the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan to break the Offenbach monopoly in l2ondon. An unnhtrusive little curtain-raiser entitled "1 rial by Jury" was the breech in the walls.
After that, London clamoured for and got the amazingly successful run of comic operas that not only caused . the partnership ilnpressario D'Oyley Carte, to build a theatre for it but filled the theatre for years to come with a public that would not let them go.
Sir Alexander Korda celebrates his
21 years in British film production with this colourful, deftly tailored dual biography, with a generous slice of the operas thrown in.
My chief criticism is that while it gives ample room to Sullivan to show his ycarnings for a wider field, it never mentions Gilbert's other life his plays or the 'Bab Ballads" from w h i c h he freely borrowed his librettos.
We are shown a personable, genial and very attractive Sullivan played with considerable charm by Maurice Evans and an imperious. overhearing vet very likeable Gilbert (Robert Morley). who emerges as the materialistic and practical side of the part nership.
Coming most fortuitously in the Coronation period, the film Is aglow and aglitter with the pomp and circumstance, the gaiety and pageantry of prosperous Victorian England.
Does the film presuppose a familiarity with the stories and scores of the operas which the cinema public at least does not possess! Many have only seen them at amateur performances or at term-end concerts by boys' schools. When they are performed in London they are at West End prices that many cannot afford. That is England's loss, but it is a fact all the same.
Generous excerpts from "Trial by Jury" to "The Gondoliers" are excellently presented, Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and a distinguished cast of singers dubbing the vocal score. D'Oyley Carte himself is a gentle and eminently diplomatic creature as Peter Finch portrays him. with l ileen Herlie staunchly supporting him as his wife Helen.