Inside facts of stage and screen (February 14, 1931)

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Pa°e Four INSIDE FACTS OF STAGE AND SCREEN Saturday, February 14, 1931 “PAINTED DESERT” Pathe Feature (Reviewed RKO Theatre Feb. 7) A glance at the credit sheet for this picture reveals a lineup of ■western personalities hard to beat. They sum up what any producer Would call a flock of naturals. Yet they fail to make the picture click. And it sets you to wondering how a picture could be anything but an outstanding hit with a cast like this. Look them over: William Boyd, William Farn'um, J. Fsrrel McDonald, Charles Sel- 3on, Bill Walling, Edmund Brecse, James Mason, Wade Botcler, Guy Edward Hearne, William LeMaire, Cy Clegg, James Donlin, George Borten, Ai St. John, Richard Cra- mer, Otto Freese, Ed Deering, Clem Beauchart, Richard Cramer. Shades of the good old days. For ja western feature in one studio bet- ter faces and talent could not be assembled. The cream of the field. Augmenting this high-power cast are several high-tension shots. The dynamiting of a mountainside and a mining shaft, runaway ore wagons, the falling of a wagon into the yawning abyss of a canyon that seems to have no bottom, a thirst- mad herd of cattle stampeded; big moments that thrill to the marrow of your bones. With the cast and action de- scribed here one would expect to see conflict that would stir emo- tions deeply. With Bill Farnum and J. Barrel McDonald crossing swords and Bill Boyd in between as peacemaker, and the rest of those hard-riding, hard-hitting Jiearties fanning the embers of ha- tred from opposing sides, one would •expect to see feeling flame hot at the climax. It doesn't. It smoul- ders along willy-nilly, occasionally giving off puffs of pale smoke. Danger and suspense are so indif- ferently brought out that audience interest at no time is above the pink-tea pitch. This is just another example of a mistaken idea of relative entertain- ment values. Human conflict well defined and kept actively in the foreground of a story has always been and always will be the ele ment that intensifies audience inter- est. The trouble with this opus is that dynamite, runaway ore wag- ons, ponderous pictures values in themselves, but merely incidental to human conflict are kept so dom- inatingly in the foreground that the humans in this story haven't got a chance. Movement en masse of ye-, hides, animals, earth and water are of enormous value as sustaining el- ements, but their relative value for intensifying interest will never com- pare to the human. "Painted Desert” offered only one continuity of action that accented the greater human menace ail'd that was where the thirst-mad herd of cattle were stampeded away from the water hole. Ted Price. “NO LIMIT” Paramount Theatre (Reviewed Feb. 7) Once upon a time there was a red-headed girl with an understand- ing universal in its appeal to the male regiment. She trusted her secretary no limit. The secretary got vigorous with the- red head’s bank roll and the titian-haired one hauled her into court to find out where the money was going to. The attorneys managed it, she learned what she wanted to know, exhibited mercy and pity when the ^secretary was convicted and the world listcned-in for something lewd and vile and got properly fooled. The many details of wild and lavish bank-roll burning” disap- peared from the front pages just about the time a picture entitled “No , Limit” came out of the can. But the picture contained none of the bank-roll burning. It concerned itself with a gambling escapade that had faded from the press long be- 1‘CIMARRON” RKO Orpheum Theatre Reviewed Feb. 6th After “Cimarron” had premiered and the avalanche of praise had subsided; after the tumult of cheers and applause had died down; I examined the “Cimarron" acclamation for one comment that described the real' reason for its greatness. I sifted the conclusions of directors and writers. I studied the previews and reviews and critiques of the Beatons and Parsons of the press. I probed and quizzed for an observation that, truly revealed “Cimarron’s” power. Of more than a dozen writ- ers critics and directors only two were conscious of the thing that gave this picture its heart beat. ’ Wh?t is it that makes “Cimarron” the finest of all the land rush and covered wagon specials? What is it in “Cimarron” outside of its magnitude that it has-in common with such pictures as “Holiday” and “The Divorcee”? What did Ruggles and Estabrook and those who conferenced this production, sustain in it that gives it major force and sweep. Those were the questions 1 asked? The direct replies from great and near great, the . answer to my searchings m every direction were the same old bromides. You have heard them so often you probably know them by heart. Brilliant direction, skillful adaptation, appreciative casting, marvelous make-up, virile performance, fine characterization. Ruggles, Dix, Berber, Estabrook, a lucky combination. They said all these things about Barry, Griffith and Harding when “Holiday” swept through; about Leonard and Shearer and “The Divorcee” when that picture cleaned up: a lucky combination. They said it about “AH Quiet on the Western Front” and “Dawn Patrol.” Lucky combination. And so, with the white hot glare of the spotlight on the Dix’s, Ruggles, Shearers, Leonards, Milestones, ’ and Hardings, the industry slips back into the beaten path of guesswork, waiting for a lucky combination. “Cimarron” graphically illustrates a guidance for future casting treatment and direction of specials. A little study and analysis of this picture would benefit directors and writers immeasurably. I wonder if they can get the glare out of their eyes long enough to see it. . Ted Price. fore. There was one reference to this escapade in the picture. It got a laugh. It wasn’t much of a laugh compared to the few the comic collected. Which doesn t speak well for “No Limit” as a comedy and its impossible story removes it from the field of drama. Button, button, whose got the kit- tie rations? Stripping the “No Limit” story to its timeliness and marquee value and setting down in all of its nak- edness its entertainment value and the whispered importance of dissi- pating unfavorable reaction to her escapade, this picture failed of its purpose. And as an acting piece it was just about as suitable to the true Bow as a fire escape on a chicken coop. Clara Bow can act. all hooie to the contrary notwithstanding. I saw her act in this picture. She has emotional capacity, heart, delivery and poise. She is capable of han- dling a powerful role. Para- mount has shown itself a keen judge of character, ability and story values , that fit. Were the whispers of unfavorable reaction so loud, confusing and potent that they up- set that judgment completely? Clara Bow’s' box office, her bill- board value is maximum. It hasn’t feathered out as most screen stars. She has stood the test of the mike. Her box office doesn't have to be weighed, nor is it necessary to ma- neuver a crash of the front page to boost it. She IS news. She doesn't have to make it. Such names as Valentino, Greta Garbo, Douglas Fairbanks; Mary Pickford and Clara Bow are hallmarks, sym- bols, standards. Deviltry lias its symbol as', well .as Pickfordian Pol- lyana. Clara is the symbol of naughtiness, indiscretion and mod- ern freedom. She is the living ex- pression of a universal desire. If this be true, and foremost showmen agree that it is, why al- low her escapades to influence the selection and treatment of her ma- terial? Clara Bow doesn't need a defense of her acts or a portrayal of them, for either entertainment or publicity. Her gambling escapade as referred to in this picture, the thing that this story prostrated it- self to, added nothing to her news potential or her picture. Let’s see Clara Bow in a story that appreci- ates her personality and talent. Ted Price. “BACHELOR FATHER” LQEW’S STATE THEATRE Los Angeles (Reviewed Feb. 7) Whoop.-dc-d.oo! It’s a swell ■corned}'. And. isn’t the Davies person a lucky gal. Story made to order for laughs and a director who knows proportion. Just the right amount of debonair rowdy- ism, breeziness and boisterous com- edy drama. This is the pattern for Davies to follow and the director Sadie Halperin Theatrical Agency GIRL REVUES—SINGERS—DANCERS— VAUDE ACTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS 808 Warner Bros. Downtown Bldg. Telephone VAndike 3234 to see that she keeps in it. Beau- tiful balance all the way here with continuity that never falters. Back- ground and technical excellence never obtrude. Business and gag-s at times, a bit daring and risque, but always with a ladylike impish- ness that never sullies. An Englishman, many times, married and divorced and now liv- ing alone, has his selfishness un- mercifully rubbed into him, so he decides to show ’em he has a heart and a sense of responsibility. He instructs his secretary to round up the scattered offspring of a hot past and gather them under the one parental roof. There are three little accidents to show up, and Tony, played by Davies, promptly disapproves of the long-faced brand of English fatherhood. Davies, immediately upon finding herself in a starched spine atmos- phere, proceeds to organize the step relations for bigger and warm- er smiles. The traditionaly cold and unhmnorous English visage thaws to the Davies downing, and so does the audience. From then on the payees are laughing on the crescendo. The finish is hoked for speed, but not obviously so. Good taste and a lot of art in this pic- ture. EAST LYNNE CARTHAY CIRCLE (Reviewed Feb. II) One respectfully removes the hat to “East Lynne,” for in it glows the hope and the future of the industry. It is one of the too far apart milestones in an art that moves ahead too slowly, One may debate “East Lynne’s” box- office, few will, and none will question its artistry. It is superbly, done. Probably one of the finest things coming out of the Fox Studio. Frank Lloyd did a great job. Bradley King and Tom Barry, the adaptors, deserve vast, credit also. And so down the line. Photog- raphy, costuming, recording, edit- ing, but with names like John Seitz, Joseph Urban, Sophie Wach- ner and Margaret Clancy one expects the superlatively fine. What we marvel at in this pic- ture is the feeling each ex- pressed for the subject. The technique of e a c h -blended and harmonized as a single personal- ity. At no time is one conscious of background splendor. When the stately settings of “East Lynne’s” interiors appear their majesty and dignity do not obtrude. They are so regally suited to the. character ization of iragedy. Follows now the girl friend's viewpoint. She wanted to sob but there was too much mascara on the eye fringe. Here's Mrs. Henry Woods’ sob- bie of the Eighteen Hundreds, brought to the screen again by Fox and Frank Lloyd. Plenty of opportunity to ruin this production by having Isabel (Ann Harding) too saccharine, as the good (?) wise, misunderstood by her stern Puritanical husband (Con- rad Nagel). Wise shommanship portrayed throughout by Lloyd by keeping most of the situations restrained, to a certain extent. Miss Harding, whether playing the smart, independent woman of today, as in “Holiday”; the girl who gambled and cheated to win, as in “Girl of the Golden West”; or the sweet belle of the England of yesteryear, as in this piece, is, as far as I am concerned the queen of ’em all. She brings into this meilerdrammer of old, a sprightli- ness that is associated with today. Supporting cast is excellent. Spe- cial recommendation should be given Clive Brook, who makes a .hand- some, really likeable villain. The story runs nearly the entire gamut of emotions and situations, all the way from cannons of war to a mother “playing bear” with her baby. Photography excellent, and sets executed by Joseph Urban, just perfection; especially the exterior of “East Lynne” on Christmas Eve, which portrays the true spirit of the title. All in all, Fox with the able as- sistance of Frank Lloyd, bis entire staff, and Ann Harding, Itaye achieved the almost impossible—a perfect picture. K. P. Presentations ORPHEUM SAN FRANCISCO (Reviewed Feb. 6) Fleshless on stage since two-a- day Orpheum died more than a year ago, Orpheum returned in- person entertainment with this pre- miere of Radio’s “Cimarron.” The length of the feature picture—125 minutes—held the prologue to 13 minutes, which is a short time . in which to accomplish much in the way of entertainment. Despite ali handicaps, however, Bud Murray and his local assistant, Don Sum- mers, did mighty well. Prologue was exact duplicate of that shown at the Los Angeles Orpheum. Uzia Bermani was at the helm of a 15-piece pit orchestra doing a brief music interlude selected from the picture. Curtain parted to re- veal a full-stage western exterior with George Scheffer vocalizing “Pale Moon” in fuff Indian regalia. A group of six Osage Indians then went through a short tribal routine, giving way to Harold Ames, who scored with a witch- doctor dance. Male chorus on for a brief vocal episode and then the effect of traveling covered wagons brought still more men and a half dozen women on, about 50 in all. Group did song from “Cimarron” to close the show, but responded with an encore. Pageant was rel- ished by the Orpheumites who haven’t seen flesh on the stage for some time. Length of the show prohibited Buss McClelland from an organ solo, but he assisted Bermani and orchestra in the concert. “Cimar- ron” was Vociferously applauded and at its closing was given a great reception, Wesley Ruggles’ direction coming in for' the great- est favorable comment. In the cel luloid introduction of cast preced- ing the picture, Rosco Ates was given the only reception. Business was okay for this pre- miere, but the next day was when they started flocking in to house- breaking ' proportions. Bock. FOX SAN FRANCISCO (Reviewed Feb. 7) The plenitude of productiomstuff 1 in the current celluloid attraction, “New Moon,” running him stiff competition, Walt Roesner moved the augmented concert group on stage this week, where he did "1812” as a straight orchestra num- ber, dispensing with the ballet and using only a limited vocal en- semble. Orchestra was boosted to 52 pieces and Charles Wilson was also on stage with the organ console, building up the number consider- ably. Lighting on this offering was great, but there were no other effects. In the finale orchestra pit rose into view, carrying a mixed .chorus of 25 voices, lending much •color and depth to the number. As a contrast Roesner then pre- sented Joaquin Garay, who for his fortieth weekly pop tune did “You’re the One. I Care For.” Got a neat response and then did “Pea- nut -Vendor” in Spanish, first time this has been done in any local theatre. This Saturday midnight- show crowd fell for it hard and Garay had to sing it a second time. Mel Hertz was at the organ for his usual Saturday night commun- ity songfest. Hertz is as good as ever, but he’s turned ritzy. His slides are now done in .modernistic lettering and carry the title "Or- ganist Entertainer,” but even that touch of high hat doesn't stop him from being the champ community sing king of these here what parts. Herman Kersken busted out With a new magnascopic screen for his swank upper Market street cinema palace. It’s okay, too, ex- cept that the entire larger screen is not visible from those comfort- able lower loges. A Laurel and Hardy comedy, “The Chiselcrs,” a Burton Holmes travelogue, Fox and Hearst sound news and Tib- bett and Moore singing in “New Moon” rounded out the quietest midnight show house, has hsid in a long time. Only two. empty bot- tles clattered against the cement floors during the entire oprv. For San Francisco that's a record in quietness. Bock. LOEW’S STATE THEATRE MORROCAN IDEA (Reviewed Feb. 12) It may be incautious to say that Fanchon & Marco's Moroccan is probably the most gorgeous Idea of the string, I don’t often use the word gorgeous. I wear sus- penders. truck driver brand, and that’s defensive, so you’ll have to accept my personal reaction to this swellelegant oriental layout that way. I don’t go much for wardrobe and scenery but this Fanchon & Marco stuff is so rich in color and warmth I've got .to exclamation point it. Speaking of Foreign Legion set- tings in a Beau Geste atmosphere with the technicolor in place and you get a meager idea of the thing. A couple of legionaires mixing with the gals in the open places downtown in Cairo and a cooch number done artistic. Ferdna and his “Modern Trilby” crashing with a sword through the basket trick for shivvers and breathholding. Then Oscar Taylor in a cello baritone voice doing at- mosphere for a levitation on one of the. landings. Neat and capable. Hadji Ali gulping water from a fish globe. Man has hollow legs. He emits at least a gallon of water in a manner that handled (Continued on Page 11) PARAMOUNT HOTEL In the Heart of Hollywood E. E. 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