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CAME It A !
"The Digest of the Motion Picture Industry"
"THE CONQUERING POWER"
Rex Ingram comes back after his very successful "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" with another unusual photoplay of, however, an entirely different type. "The Conquering Power," as most of us know, is June Mathis' screen adaptation of Balzac's "Eugenie Grandet," a literary work containing much valuable picture material which has been used to excellent advantage in the scenario. Being the story of a man's great avarice and his final destruction by the gold he worships, it contains pronounced possibilities for the utilization of many wierd effects, such as the dying miser's terrifying hallucinations. These artistically managed visitations are ghostly enough to hand a shiver to the "blase-est" of mankind, but that it may be rescued from the classification— uncanny, the production's love theme is treated with a very human, wholesome sweetness.
Any inconsistencies in the French village life of "Eugenie Grandet's" time are quite cleverly excused by the editors in explanatory titles at the picture's off-set, wherein it is stated that no attempt at absolute detail accuracy has been made in the telling of this story of the ages; consequently there is nothing mentionable on that score. The photography and lighting are causes for continual joy, and some almost startling effects are obtained with them.
Ingram has already proven his sense of the dramatic, but he re-proves it here with his superb direction of a delightfully "trouping" cast.
From the standpoint of vivid characterization the picture belongs to Ralph Lewis, who interprets Pere Grandet, a miser whose death is as fascinating as it is repellant. Moreover, it is a masterpiece in the hands of this actor, who has long been forging his way to the highest pinnacle in dramatic achievement. Lewis' interpretation makes Pere live for us today as he unquestionably once lived in Balzac's sensitive mind. To us Grandet is both abhorrent and pitifully childlike in his passion for his beloved plaything— gold. Indeed, there is almost a tear where he glees over the cradleful of glittering pieces, and it is possible that this action strikes the really big note in the play. Throughout, Lewis' tempo is consistent in this performance, which ranks among his best, if there are any to approach it.
Alice Terry's most convincing wcrk is also seen here as Eugenie Grandet, Pere's stepdaughter, whose unselfishness finds her love and whose patience restores it after the intervention of years and misunderstanding. Infinite care in the direction of this part is continually perceptible without, we may say, being obvious. In any event Eugenie more than gets the sympathy she goes after and her romance Is exceptionally beautiful in its tenderness.
Charles Grandet, the gallant young Parisian who captures Eugenie's heart, is rendered quite picturesque by Rudolph Valentino, whose Latin characterizations are coming so much into prominence.
A well chosen type to play Charles' illfated father is Eric Mayne, and Carrie Baumery, adds a significant touch as Eugenie's mother, who is but another possession of her dominant husband, Pere.
Edward Connelly assists the opposition in the role of the notary, Cruchot, who would marry his son to Eugenie, the heiress, while that nondescript young man himself is made the ridiculous village lout by George Atkinson.
Some carefully placed comedy, bordering the slap-stick, is handled by Mary Hearu,
who plays Nanon, the Grandet servant.
Willard Lee Hall and Mark Fenton each have a few good scenes as the Abbe and M. des Grassins; while Bridgetta Clark and Ward Wing complete the list of players as des Grassin's wife and son, save for C. E.
(Not Edna Gregory) Playing "Stella " in "Short Skirts " at the Superba This Week
Collins, whose make-up for the ghost of gold is more than hideous.
Whether or not "The Conquering Power" will prove a sensation is a matter for speculation, but it is a well rounded drama, more than happily comparable with those which are being foisted upon the public this sunim.er. Of it Ingram has made no spectacle — he intended none. It is enough to do what one sets out to do.
"SCRAP IRON" Kinema
Hundreds of fans and no mean representation of the profession turned out to see Charles Ray's "Scrap Iron," which re-opened the Kinema theatre this week, that their curiosities might be satisfied regarding this actor's directorial ability, for in this picture we have Ray's first personally-directed production. Oftentimes we find a star's pictures deteriorating when he undertakes the megaphone holder's job in addition to his own, but in this particular instance we have a knockout story with several new twists correctly put over to gain the desired effect, so that we have only the best to report. One thing is certain, this picture will bring Ray a new host of admirers in the country's mothers, for "Scrap Iron" concerns a boy whose mother is his only sweetheart. Of course this story of Chas. E. Van Loan, from the Saturday Evening Post, includes the inevitable girl, one who hurls the lad with her disloyalty, only to return rapidly to his side when success is his, but oh! — what a relief it is to see our hero in the last sequence literally give the little roughneck "the gate." We were intensely afraid he'd open his arms and stand there dumbly, as they have a habit of doing. Aside from this decided "kick" there are several more, and far greater suspense than Ray's productions have been able to boast lately. Technically "Scrap Iron" is very good.
The star is seen this time in a somewhat different role. He does John Steel, who is dubbed "Scrap Iron'' by his associates because he respects a mother's wishes ,«ufaciently to refrain from a boxing career. All of that sensitive youth that is so individually Ray is brought into play in this youngster, who is endeared to the audience by the homely details which surround him. A rare appeal is created by the actor for this boy and much heart interest is a result. The Ray fans will get much of joy from Johnny Scrap Iron.
The girl next door is cleverly characterized by Vera Steadman, who makes her a very human, very wicked little minx. She has little sympathy, however, which makes her final abrupt exit an occasion for great satisfaction rather than otherwise.
Lydia Knott is lovely as John's beloved mother, while Tom Wilson offers some rich comedy with Bill Dugan, John's faithful traiuer.
Tom O'Brien, Stanton Heck and Charles Wheelock are well placed in Battling Burke, Tim Riley and Matt Brady, an "ath/etic club" triangle.
Al Ray assisted the star in his dirfcxtion of "Scrap Iron," which is a First National release.
"THE GREAT MOMENT"
There are unquestionably thousands of our less classically inclined brother and sister (particularly sister) readers of fiction who will welcome to the great benefit of the box office the release of Elinor Glyn's initial photoplay attempt, "The Great Moment." They always get a kick out of Elinor and to make the prospect of this entertainment even more attractive they know that this production also serves as Gloria Swanson's first star picture. It is to be readily admitted that the psychology of this combination is worthy of considerable admiration, due to the fact that both of the artists in question appeal largely to the same class of fans, which forms, by the way, no mean piece of the general populace.
That "The Great Moment" has for the most part an annoyingly aged and exceedingly sheer plot which has difficulty in holding its elaborate sets and superior cast together, will probably detract not one whit from the picture's value so far as the majority of its audiences are concrned, for hasn't it all of the madly impassioned moments that its authoress' name guarantees, not to mention the bizarre costumes and barbaric head-dresses that they affect for Miss Swanson out at Lasky's? These flesh-pots will be accepted avidly by many even at this stage of advanced fan education, but the profession is going to emit one resounding laugh over it all. Speaking of garments, in this instance, it is agreed that there is a great value attached to the sensational in any fiction, but it must not out-distance reason, as has Mrs. West, who seems to be running away with herself in the designing line. Detail must not kill drama, as it does here.
The star fills quite typically the role of Nadine Pelham, a daughter of England's nobility, who comes to America to meet a man and a fatal serpent. Gloria may be depended upon to be exotic always. Her followers will be delighted with Nadine.
Milton Sills' portrayal of Bayard Delaval must be reviewed the same way, i. e., he convinces with his role, which is perhaps better played than written. Delaval should not have been dropped for such lengthy stretches in the story. It loses him value.
Alec B. Francis is well established in the (Continued on Page 16)