Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin (Sep 1934 - Aug 1935)

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12 WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 1935 AS I SEE THEM . . . Reviews of New Films By ROLAND BARTON Boxoffice Rating • • + MARK OF THE VAMPIRE M etro-Goldwyn-Mayer 60 Minutes Lionel Barrymore Bela Lugosi Elizabeth Allan Lionel Atwill Jean Hersholt Directed by Tod Browning First three-quarters similar to "Dracula," but flops near end. . . . Will excite the gullible fans who always fall for this vampire-horror stuff. . . . OK for action houses. Here is the • old vampire legend again, warmed, or should we say chilled, up to satisfy those who are anxious to see "Dracula" under a different title, for the 'steenth time. "Mark of the Vampire" will please those fans a great deal, but more discriminating people will find it far too familiar to shock them much. In story and dialogue, it is a carbon copy of its predecessors, having to do with the goings on of those "undead" who return to life to live on the blood of the living. While the first threequarters of the film works up a fairly exciting horror story, the entire illusion is swept away by a solution that is far less credible than it would have been if the vampire angle had been worked out. You are suddenly told that the whole affair is staged to trap a murderer and there are so many important points left hanging in mid-air that you are sadly disappointed. PLOT: Holmes Herbert is found dead, supposedly from vampire wounds inflicted by Lugosi, who, together with his daughter, is believed to roam the countryside from sunset to sunrise. Lionel Barrymore, a professor of occult sciences, joins Lionel Atwill, the local inspector, in trying to discover any human responsibility for the crime. Herbert's daughter is also found unconscious with the mark of the vampire on her throat. Jean Hersholt, the girl's guardian, is finally found to be the murderer, and Lugosi, with his vampire act, was merely trying to force a confession from Hersholt. SURPRISE! Fans who like this type of story will thoroughly enjoy the picture up to the point where the plot is disclosed. The horror element is successfully captured in several scenes. This affords many exploitation angles for action houses. Billed as "the successor to 'Dracula'," it should do above average in the nabe spots. ELK. Boxoffice Rating • • + THE PHANTOM FIEND Olympic Pictures Ivor Novello Elizabeth Allan Directed by Maurice Elvey A horror tale that really will thrill the shake-and-shudder fans. . . . Fast moving mystery and action. . . . Lack of names will not hurt it where they like this type of film. Right on top of G-B's mystery-horror film, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," comes another one of those weird nightmares from the thick fogs of London to make American audiences spend a tremulous hour on the edge of a movie house chair. "The Phantom Fiend" possesses such an exciting scenario and such macabre atmosphere that Americans who have a penchant for horror tales will swallow it whole — and like it! The cheap, catchpenny title will not aid its boxoffice value in better class houses, to be sure, but, of course, the classy folks hardly consider horror films their fare. Elizabeth Allan has been seen in a number of major releases, but her name can hardly be termed a marquee attraction. However, the lack of important names will mean little in nabes where they like their mystery mystifying and their horror frightening. It has the thrills and the chills, so what else matters! PLOT: Just at the time when all London is frightened by a murder scare, instigated by the mysterious slaying of several women by a maniac, a strange eerie musician takes lodging with a poor family. The unsuspecting daughter falls in love with the peculiar foreigner, until the police net slowly closes in on him and proves him to be the killer. There then follows a series of wildly exciting incidents in which the murderer escapes and gets his hands on the girl. Like all shake-and-shudder melodramas, this lends itself to a wealth of exploitation stunts. It requires some degree of courage to watch it and the public should be "warned" about it. Boxottice Rating • % THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN Paramount 78 Minutes Marlene Dietrich Lionel Atwill Cesar Romero Edward Everett Horton Directed by Josef Von Sternberg Dietrich rolls her eyes and looks enticing in a rather odd and engrossing sexdrama. . . . Action is slow. . . . Will not appeal to the masses. . . . NG for children. This is undoubtedly the most daring sex film that has come out of Hollywood since the clean-up crusade was instituted. It is rather slow. It has little dramatic substance. But it is strangely engrossing — an unusual and distinctive film, if not a popular one. Marlene Dietrich is again director Josef Von Stern berg's puppet, looking more beautiful than ever, but incessantly rolling her eyes coyly. The story is simply the chronicle of a gorgeous Spanish harlot's influence over a middle-aged army officer; how she heartlessly wrecks his life, while he is ever aware of her cheapness, her faithlessness, her cruelty. But, like the eternal man — he always comes back for more! The subtle implications of man's frailty against the flesh will probably be lost on most people, who, if they accept merely the surface plot, will laugh at the amorous persistency of the fool. PLOT: Cesar Romero, Republican revolutionist, sees Marlene Dietrich during the Spanish fiesta and follows her to her home. He arranges to see her that night. After leaving her home, he meets an old friend, Lionel Atwill, whom he tells about his intended rendezvous with the beautiful woman. Atwill warns Romero not to see her and proceeds to tell his younger friend of his unfortunate affair with her. In a series of flashbacks, Atwill then describes how he became infatuated by the girl, how she used his mad sexual passion to degrade him, to rob him. He induces Romero to swear that he will not see her. They part and the young man finds himself unable to resist the temptation to teach the woman a lesson. He meets her, Atwill arrives, and the friends have words, ending in a challenge to duel. Atwill shoots into the air and is wounded by Romero. While he is in the hospital, Marlene, who has honestly fallen in love with Romero, arranges passports for them to leave the country. She changes her mind at the last moment and sends off the man she loves to return to the one who so insanely loves her. Where Dietrich's name means something, this will do Average business. Elsewhere, it will go below. Exploitation should stress the unusual theme — the eternal story of man — the fool! Children's attendance should be discouraged. Boxoffice Rating • • — HOLD'EM YALE Paramount 62 Minutes Patricia Ellis Cesar Romero Larry (Buster) Crabbe William Frawley Andy Devine Warren Hymer George Barbier Directed by Sidney Lanfied Gets flavor of Damon Runyon dialogue better than anything since "Little Miss Marker," but yarn isn't very strong. . . . Lacks names. . . . An ordinary programmer that will go below par at boxoffice. This is another Damon Runyon yarn, better than some of the very bad ones, but far from equal to the few good ones. It has the author's unique and amusing dialogue and situations, his colorful characters, but it is never more than an uninmportant bit of passable entertainment. While it boasts no marquee names, such expert troupers as William Frawley, Warren Hymer, Andy Devine, George E. Stone and George Barbier, carry the comical complications conceived by Runyon in a manner that gives them flavor. The story, however, is a fluffy bit of Runyonism, without the sentiment of his "Lady for a Day" or "Little Miss Marker." PLOT: Patricia Ellis is bored with her studious boy friend, Larry Crabbe, so she falls for a gaudy (Continued on Page Nine) BOXOFFICE RATING We have been requested by many exhibitors to use some simple system of indicating our rating of the boxoffice value of the films reviewed below. The "point" system of evaluation, at best, can give you only an arbitrary estimate of a picture's drawing power, so we urge you to read the entire reviews. Some pictures are particularly suitable for certain types of audiences and this must be covered in the detailed criticisms. • Means POOR • • Means AVERAGE • • • Means GOOD • • • © Means EXCELLENT Plus ( + ) and minus ( — ) will be used occasionally to indicate slightly above or below the point rating.