Film Daily (1921)

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Sunday, March 27, 1921 vi->4>i DAILY Bert LytelPs Latest Mildly Interesting Bert Lytell in "A MESSAGE FROM MARS" Metro DIRECTOR Maxwell Karger AUTHOR Richard Ganthoney SCENARIO BY Arthur Zellner and Arthur Maude CAMERAMAN Arthur Martinelli AS A WHOLE Good production but offers mildly interesting piece of entertainment generally STORY Not impressive screen material; dream phase unconvincing though well done DIRECTION Good on production angles; might have handled players more advantageously PHOTOGRAPHY Very good LIGHTINGS Satisfactory CAMERA WORK Good; double exposure work excellent STAR Has done much better work than this SUPPORT Raye Dean opposite star and others in minor parts adequate EXTERIORS All right INTERIORS Correct DETAIL Suffices CHARACTER OF STORY Selfish Englishman is reformed by a dream in which he sees himself as others see him LENGTH OF PRODUCTION 6,198 feet The picturization of Richard Ganthoney 's English stage play makes but mildly interesting entertainment. Being unfamiliar with the play it isn't possible to say just how the story was treated, but certainly it wouldn't have found much fame in the sober atmosphere which has been provided for the picture version. There is very little incident and what there is has been padded at length. The best thing in "A Message from Mars" is the message itself, in which the selfish Englishman in a dream is visited by a messenger from Mars who shows the egotist himself as others see him. During this sequence there is some unusually fine double exposure work with one, and often two, of the characters figuring in the double exposure. There is a long stretch of this and the whole is very well done. Bert Lytell is the almost ego-maniac Englishman. He is capable of much better work than he does here. He overacts considerably and has the appearance of giving more attention to the director's instructions than to registering egoism. Even after he has had the dream and learned a lesson in "charity," he fails to shake off the mask. He's let it grow upon him, seemingly. Horace Parker, a' wealthy egotist, is an amateur scientist who is cultivated by real scientists merely because of his wealth. Horace agrees to finance a project because he is to be given full credit. That night Horace is so rapt up in his importance that he refuses to take his fiancee to a reception. He remains at home alone and is visited by a man who served under him in the war, and who is in need of funds for his starving wife. Parker refuses to see him. In a dream that night Horace is visited by a vision who calls himself a messenger from Mars. He makes Horace invisible like himself and takes him to the reception where he sees another man making love to his fiancee. They also go to the scientists' club where the members are discussing him and his selfishness. Then the messenger makes a beggar of Horace. When the egotist awakens he has learned his lesson and rushes to the home of the man who sought money. He saves the woman from a burning building and opens his home to the homeless. Title And Star's Name Have Drawing Power Box Office Analysis for the Exhibitor You have a good title to announce in this latest Metro picture, which together with the star's name should give you little difficulty in bringing them in. But Bert Lytell has done better things than this. You can probably play "A Message from Mars" and give fair satisfaction. If you care to interest them from an angle other than the story, you might get your local papers to give you some space to devote to a short story teiiing how the big exterior sets for the picture were made in the world's largest armory. They should be interested in the result. Use catchlines in connection with the title such as "What is 'The Message from Mars?' The answer will be found at the blank theater." Or, "If you're troubled with egoism there's a cure awaiting you in 'The Message from Mars.' Try it yourself. It cured Bert Lytell in his latest Metro picture."