Harrison's Reports (1938)

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February 12, 1938 HARRISON'S REPORTS 27 "Blondes at Work" with Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane (Warner Bros., Feb. 5; time, 63 min.) A moderately entertaining program comedy-melodrama. It is the third in the series of "Torchy Blane" stories, with the same players enacting the parts they did in the previous pictures. In substance, it is practically identical to the others, with Glenda Farrell, as the fast-working reporter, getting all the scoops in town, and outwitting the entire police force. For the most part, the story is far-fetched; as a matter of fact, there are a few supposedly serious spots that may be greeted by the spectators with laughs. One such situation is where Barton MacLane, the police lieu- tenant, having found a handkerchief with lipstick on it as a clue in the murder case, shows it to a young lady, who worked in the cosmetics department at a store; she just glances at it and knows what kind of lipstick it was and what type person would wear it. This time, less stress is laid on the romance. In the development of the plot, a wealthy department store owner is found murdered at a hotel, where he had registered under an assumed name. Miss Farrell, ever on the alert to get scoops for her newspaper, finds the murder suspect, (Rosella Towne) before the police could get to her. She promises to help Miss Towne, who pleaded that she was innocent, if she would give herself up to the police. In the meantime, MacLane arrests Miss Towne's fiance as the murderer. At the trial, the jury finds him guilty of first degree murder. Miss Farrell, who had sneaked into a room adjoining the jury room and thus been able to get the ver- dict to her newspaper before it was publicly announced, is held for contempt of court and sent to jail. She is an- noyed when she hears that Miss Towne had herself con- fessed to the murder, and that she wasn't there to send the news to her paper. But MacLane cheers her up by showing her her newspaper with the story printed in it; he had sent it in for her. Albert DeMond wrote the original screen play, Frank McDonald directed it, and Bryan Foy produced it. In the cast are Tom Kennedy, John Ridgely, and others. Since the murder is not actually shown, it is suitable for all. Class A. "Action for Slander" with Clive Brook (London Film-United Art., Jan 14; time, 81^4 min.) This drama, revolving around a card-cheating scandal in British society, should appeal mostly to sophisticated audiences. The atmosphere is typically British and the players, with the exception of Clive Brook, are unknown here. The story lacks human appeal, because the hero (Clive Brook), who is the victim of the scandal, does not win one's sympathy. The reason for this is that, at the beginning, it is established that he was having an affair with a married woman, thereby bringing unhappiness to his charming wife. The fact that he later puts an end to this affair does not help matters much. The picture's high- light is the courtroom scene in the end, where the hero's lawyer tricks the accuser (Arthur Margetson), husband of the woman with whom Brook had been having the affair, into confessing that he had lied about the card-cheating episode. It is evident to the spectators that he had done so to avenge the wrong Brook had done him. The only sym- pathetic character is the wife (Ann Todd), for she shows nobleness in returning to Brook, when he needed her. It is because of her that he eventually brings the libel action, enabling him to clear his name and to take his place in society again. He and Miss Todd are reconciled. Mary Borden wrote the story, and Miles Malleson, the screen play; Tim Whelan directed it, and Victor Saville produced it. In the cast are Ronald Squire, Percy Marmont, and others. Unsuitable for children. Class B. "International Settlement" with George Sanders and Dolores Del Rio (20th Century-Fox, Feb. 4; time, 83 min.) A good program melodrama. Since part of the action takes place during an air raid in Shanghai, the producers have inserted newsreel shots of actual air raids and of people rushing for shelter; this adds considerable excite- ment. The story is somewhat far-fetched; since the action is, however, fast, it holds one's attention well throughout. And the constant danger to the hero and the heroine keeps one in suspense. June Lang and Dick Baldwin supply the light touch with their amusing antics and pleasant ro- mance :— George Sanders, soldier of fortune, undertakes a dan- gerous mission to act on behalf of Pedro DeCordoba, to collect $1,000,000 for ammunitions DeCordoba had prom- ised to deliver to Harold Huher and his partner (John Carradine), in Shanghai. Sanders had to use DeCordoba's name to do so. The moment he registers in the hotel trouble starts: Dolores Del Rio, a cafe singer, mistaking him for DeCordoba, tries to shoot him. Her shot misses, and when she finds out that Sanders was not the man she wanted she is happy. She later explains to him that she wanted to kill DeCordoba because he had been responsible for her father's death. Sanders completes the deal and returns with the money to the boat, only to learn that DeCordoba had died of heart failure. Wanting to return the money to Huber, and not knowing where to find him, Sanders enlists Miss Del Rio's aid. She arranges to take him to Huber's house herself. But her husband (Leon Ames), having heard about the money, gets to Huber's house first; he kills Huber and wounds Carradine, who manages to escape. When Sanders arrives and is forced to turn the money over to Ames, he feels that Miss Del Rio had doublecrossed him. Ames shoots him in the arm. Just at that moment there is an air raid and Sanders is wounded, too. Miss Del Rio goes to his aid; frantically rushing to the streets, she brings back a doctor; she gives her blood to save him. When the doctor leaves, she goes out for help again; but by this time Sanders had regained consciousness and leaves. Under government orders, Americans are compelled to evacuate Shanghai. Miss Del Rio is overjoyed to find Sanders on the boat. But until he learns the facts from Miss Lang he refuses to talk to her. Miss Del Rio helps him get the money back from Ames, who, too, was on the boat. Carra- dine, another passenger, kills Ames. This clears the way for Sanders and Miss Del Rio to marry. Lynn Root and Frank Fenton wrote the story, and Lou Breslow and John Patrick, the screen play; Eugene Forde directed it, and Sol M. Wurtzel produced it. In the cast are Ruth Terry, Keye Luke, and others. The shootings make it unsuitable for children. Class B. "Goldwyn Follies" with Adolphe Menjou, Andrea Leeds and Kenny Baker (United Artists, Feb. 4; time, 121 min.) An excellent box-office attraction, considering the mag- nificent technicolor work, the drawing power of the indi- vidual players, and the advance publicity the picture has been given. And the Hollywood background may still attract the masses. But it seems a pity that so much care should have been given to everything but the story, which, in itself, is trite. As a matter of fact, there is no story to speak of; it is more or less a grand and glorified vaudeville show, with individual acts that vary between very good and fair. The Ritz Brothers are, as usual, comical and provoke hearty laughter by their antics, despite the material given them. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, in their few appearances, are good and should delight all their fans, who have become familiar with them through their broad- casts. The outstanding feature is the dancing by Zorina and by the members of the American Ballet. There is one scene in which they appear against a background of blue and white which, for sheer beauty, has not been surpassed —it is breathtaking. There are scenes of beauty through- out, as a result of the color photography. The music is good, varying from the operatic (sung by Helen Jepson) to the popular variety. The story revolves around Andrea Leeds, a young country girl, who had been brought to Hollywood by Adolphe Menjou, a hardened producer, for he had felt that her humane reaction to things and to people about her would help him in his work. He sets her up in a house away from the studio and forbids her to meet or speak to actors, lest she would change. She meets and falls in love with Kenny Baker, a young tenor, who ran a hamburger wagon, but who aspired to become a motion picture star. She manages to get Menjou to listen to Baker sing over the radio, without letting him suspect that she had anything to do with it. Because she had expressed her delight with Baker's voice, Menjou engages him for a leading part in his picture. But when he learns the truth he is enraged, for he had planned to marry Miss Leeds himself. He in- forms her that, unless she married him, he would remake the picture with another singer in Baker's place; therefore, she agrees to marry him. Baker, having found out about Miss Leed's position at the studio, berates her for having fooled him and insults her about her relationship with Menjou. But when he hears of her sacrifice, he cools down and rushes to her side. He informs Menjou that he would gladly give up his career to marry Miss Leeds. But Men- jou. touched by the whole thing, relinquishes his claim on Miss Leeds, and blesses the lovers; he gives Baker a five year contract. Ben Hecht wrote the story and the screen play; George Marshall directed it, and George Haight. in association with Mr. Goldwyn, produced it. In the cast are Phil Baker. Flla Logan, Bobbv Clark, Nvdia Westman, and others. Class A.