FREDA BRUCE LOCKHART
WALT DISNEY continues his self-appointed mission of educating the world in the
mystery of Nature red in tooth
and claw. A Tiger Walks ("IT", Studio One) is a very comprehensive parable, showing what happens to a small backwood's community when a tiger escapes from a circus to prowl the neighbourhood.
The people most immediately concerned are first the sheriff (Brian Keith) and his wife (Vera Miles) and daughter (Pamela Franklin). They are the good citizens of Disneyland and naturally love animals,
So the good sheriff does not wish to shoot the tiger. He tends to believe Raja's keeper (Sabu. Flaherty's original Elephant Boy) who wants to call and reassure Raja by friendship and catch him with nets.
But there are other elements in the population. The governor is an ambitious small-town politician. Egged on by his agent, he wants to declare a state of emergency, call out the troops, helicopters. jeeps and even some light artillery to liquidate the frightened tiger who has already killed one human tormentor.
Then there is the hydra-headed public, an army of poor silly nitwits who panic like a flock of frightened and hungry sheep. Lastly at the very bottom of this hierarchy of human folly arc the vulture newshawks, the latest villains in today's movies.
The good fairy is the sheriff's daughter, Julie (Pamela Franklin, child-star also of "The Lion"). From bottle-feeding the tiger kittens. Julie becomes a devoted supporter of the tiger's cause.
The sheriff's problem is to do his duly of protecting the public in a common-sensible manner while remaining an enlightened father who can explain God's plan for the animal world to his teenage daughter. It is a complicated lesson, hard for all of us who love animals, perhaps inordinately.
Unfortunately, Disney cannot bear to take it to as mature a stage of understanding as he did in "Farewell My Lady", the parting of a small boy from his dog.
But even though the lesson is over-simplified and ends sentimentally with the children processing to the chant of "save that tiger now" and collecting money to buy it safe retirement in a zoo, there is a lot of good sense and good drama in the picture.
And the tiger kittens, mewing plaintively, are irresistible.
JACQUES BAR ATTER, director of Sweet and Sour ("X", Paris-Pullman) has gone far towards mastering the profitable tactic of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.
In the case of Dragees an Poivre, to give the film its original and spicier title, this means to caricature or expose a typical teenage screen idol Cierard (Guy Bedos) and his colleagues engaged in "cinemaverite employing the techniques dignified by the term cinemaWrite, The ensuing extraordinary entertainment is like an all-star charade with fireworks, an international Green Room rag in celluloid. The story-line, or continuity, is like a music-hall programme or a list of turns linked by larger chorus scenes.
Thus, besides Gerard, a cruel caricature of the more moronic type of idol all set for Venice and Hollywood, are his movie-making friends "The Zooms", led by Elizabeth Wiener as Frederic the emema-verita fiend and pretty Sophie Daumier as Jackie.
Filming in the Bois de Boulogne gets Jackie involved with a PeepingTom Club and the Republican Guard, Francois Perier and Jean Richard appear as papas pushing prams; Monica Vitti, Antonioni's exciting star, appears as an actress in the film with a 'very different director, Roger Vadim.
Lovely Anna Karina's sketch sends her upstairs with an amateur plumber, Claude Brasseur, whose unchivalrous interest in unstopping the basin ends in elementary farce. Simone Signoret herself romances dreamily over a foreign legionnaire, made by Jean-Paul Belmondo into the least romantic of scullions.
Most of these episodes are carried out at a hectic pace and to the frenzied accompaniment of a fertile and varied selection from the pops. The grand finale dares to evoke "West Side Story". both by a musical quotation and a flickknife, but ends up with the twist and Gerard's departure for Hollywood.
I found the extravaganza noisy and exhausting. but undoubtedly entertaining if only for the sight of so many top French stars in informal mood.
LATER this month, on May 20, 21, 22 the Catholic Film Institute under the umbrella of the National Catholic Centre for Radio, Television and Cinema is presenting a three-day film festival at the Royal Commonwealth Society, Northumberland Avenue, W.C.2.
Only the opening film on Wednesday. May 20th, is specifically Catholic in subject — Le Dialogue des Carmelites.
It had once been announced that the celebrated story of the Carmelites who went willingly to the guillotine in the days of the French Revolution was to be made by the great Catholic director, Bresson. Plans were changed but the present version is one no Catholic filmgoer would wish to miss. It has not been previously shown in this country, so this is quite a scoop by the Catholic Film Institute. Billy Budd is included as a sharp contrast between good and evil. This seems to me far-fetched but it was well played and wellmade and full of brutality.
The third festival feature, Le Soupirant is a wholly charming, original and funny French comedy with a "U" certificate, a rare Combina.tion which needs no other justification for its place in the Festival.
Included in the supporting programmes are to be award-winning television films from the religious side, such as Rome and the Vatican Council and the delightful "Father Casey and the Land War". Tickets and details from the Catholic Film Institute, 48 Great Peter Street, S.W.I. The C.F.I. is also now publishing a modest fortnightly bulletin which contains the official moral classification of each film.