The Private Life of Don Juan (United Artists) (1934)

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CURRENT FEATURES ♦ BIOGRAPHIES ♦ PLAY DATE READERS Doug Comes Back In Dashing Role Athletic Star Plays “Don Juan ” in New Korda Film (PLAY DATE READER) Douglas Fairbanks fans will wel¬ come the agile star back to the. .Theatre today in one of those colorful swashbuckling roles with which he is generally identi¬ fied. The picture is London Films’ “The Private Life of Don Juan,” which offers the dashing Doug an oppor¬ tunity to wear more colorful costumes and achieve more daring feats than ever before. Based on the popular legend of the handsome, matchless heart-breaker, this Alexander Korda production from the pens of Frederick Lonsdale and Lajos Biro, pokes sly fun at the great lover and plays with the amusing idea of his being deprived in middle age of his romantic name and glamorous reputation which are buried with the remains of an audacious impostor killed by an angry husband. Just how badly he fares thenceforth with the very ladies who had previously been as good as conquered by the very mention of his name makes a delight¬ ful and highly imaginative comedy romance, which ends up with the great lover admitting defeat and re¬ turning to his wife. The intriguingly lovely Merle Oberon, who is perhaps the most talked about and glamorous new per¬ sonality in the film world, is seen op¬ posite Doug as Pepilla, the Spanish dancer; Benita Hume plays his wife, while Binnie Barnes, Joan Gardner, Patricia Hilliard and Princess Natalie Paley represent a few of the many other amorous episodes in Don Juan’s romantic career. Lavishly mounted, “The Private Life of Don Juan” boasts the largest and most pretentious sets ever built in England and hundreds of breath- takingly beautiful costumes designed by Oliver Messel. The film is re¬ leased through United Artists. CAN’T SETTLE DOWN Benita Hume Spends Large Part of Her Time On High Seas ’Ticixt England and America. (BIOGRAPHICAL FEATURE) The demand for brown-eyed Benita Hume bridges two continents, with the result that the lovely Londoner has never been able to settle down comfortably on either side of the At¬ lantic. This Fall, her fourth trip to Amer¬ ica found her torn between the Broadway stage, the ever-alluring Hollywood and a return to her native England to continue making films Benita Hume 8 —One Col. Player Head (Mat .05; Cut .20) under the direction of the brilliant Alexander Korda, in whose “The Pri¬ vate Life of Don Juan,” she plays one of Douglas Fairbanks’ leading ladies. This romantic comedy, which Doug made in Elstree for London Films, is released through United Artists and may currently be seen at the. Theatre. Graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Benita gained valuable training in stock com¬ panies and appeared in several Eng¬ lish-made silent films before she de¬ cided to invade the American theatri¬ cal world seven years ago. The boat had scarcely docked, however, before she was called back to England by an astute producer. Three and a half years later, she made her second trip to New York to appear with Ivor Novello in the suc¬ cessful Broadway production of “Sym¬ phony In Two Flats.” She remained for the run of the play, then returned to England and scored in Korda’s film, “Reserved For Ladies.” She later made a big hit on the London stage in “The Party” and this resulted in an attrac¬ tive Hollywood contract. In the course of this third trip to America, Benita made several films. Merle Oberon Owes Discovery To Wife of Alexander Korda (BIOGRAPHICAL FEATURE) Merle Oberon of the strange, haunting beauty and the deep, mysterious eyes has captured the imagination of the film¬ going world, and in every town and hamlet the old, inevitable questions arise. Who is she really?—From where did she come? Blessed with an almost unearthly grace and an inherent glamour that does not depend on bizarrely-shaped eyebrows or Tribute To Korda “DON JUAN” A GAY ROMANTIC COMEDY Climaxes Doug’s Love Of Stories With Spanish Backgrounds (PLAY DATE READER) “The Private Life of Don Juan,” which brings Douglas Fairbanks to the .Theatre for a .run today, climaxes the athletic star’s long-standing prefer¬ ence for films with Spanish themes and backgrounds, which began with “The Mark of Zorro” and followed through in “Don Q,” “The Gaucho” and “The Black Pirate." The most pretentious production yet offered by London Films, the pro¬ ducers of the sensationally successful “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and “Catherine the Great,” “The Private Life of Don Juan,” is a swashbuckling romantic comedy from the pens of Frederick Lonsdale, distinguished Lon¬ don playwright and Lajos Biro, bril¬ liant Hungarian playwright and scenarist. Bero also collaborated on writing of the two earlier London Films screen triumphs. The story of the film, which was directed by Alexander Korda for re¬ lease through United Artists, treats the great lover in rather cavalierly fashion and expounds the amusing theory that, deprived of his name and reputation by a trick of fate, Don Juan was no greater lover than the next fellow—if as great. When an amorous amateur who has been successfully impersonating the matchless philanderer, is killed by an outraged husband, all feminine Seville goes into mourning for the real Don Juan. Don Juan enjoys the “joke” until he realizes that the day of his easy conquests is at an end, for it is impossible to convince any of the women he approaches that he is not an imposter. After half a dozen dis¬ illusioning experiences, he is finally compelled to go back to his wife. The beautiful Merle Oberon, whom American audiences will recall as the tragic Ann Boleyn in “The Private Life of Henry VIII,” is seen opposite Fairbanks as a glamorous Spanish dancer, and Benita Hume, Joan Gard¬ ner, Binnie Barnes, Patricia Hilliard and Princess Natalie Paley are other dominant feminine figures ir\ the re¬ splendent tapestry before Which the comedy is played. 6 Don Wahn’ in 6 Se-vi-a’ Pronouncing Hero’s Name And Scene of Triumphs Director Korda’s Problem (CURRENT STORY) Pronunciation presented a real problem to Alexander Korda in direct¬ ing “The Private Life of Don Juan,” Douglas Fairbanks’ new film at the .Theatre. It will probably surprise the major¬ ity of Americans who will counte¬ nance none but the Spanish pronun¬ ciation, “Don Wahn,” to learn that England pronounces the name of the great lover exactly as it is spelled, that is: “Don Ju-an.” American ears will not be offended, however, for Korda discarded the British preference in the matter. The pronunciation of the city of Seville in which most of the action of this London Films production for re¬ lease through United Artists takes place, presented the second stumbling block. For in England, the capital of Andalusia is pronounced “Sev-il,” ac¬ centing the first syllable, while Amer¬ icans generally say “Se-ville,” with the accent on the second syllable. In this instance, the problem was solved by sticking to the Spanish pronuncia¬ tion, which is, of course, “Se-vi-a,” accent on the second syllable. The question of Spanish pronuncia¬ tion reminded Doug Fairbanks of a story. It seems an Easterner stopped at the Hotel La Jolla in San Jose, Cal¬ ifornia. When he pronounced these names exactly as spelled, the hotel clerk politely corrected him, explain¬ ing that the Spanish “J” is pronounced as “H”. The Easterner mulled over this amazing intelligence until the day of his departure. Then he astonished the clerk with a “Well, so long. I’ll be back in Hune or Huly!” including “Only Yesterday,” “Gamb¬ ling Ship,” “Clear All Wires,” and “The Worst Woman In Paris.” Eng¬ land, however, had never quite relin¬ quished its native claim on her, so Benita eventually found her way home again. She made three films, “Don Juan,” “Power” and “Eighteen Min¬ utes,” and the last of these was no sooner finished than she found herself on the high seas again on her fourth voyage to America. “DON JUAN” REAL Great Lover Whom Fairbanks Brings To Screen Was Flesh And Blood, Not Legend (CURRENT FEATURE) Although the average American believes him to be a merely fictitious character, every Spaniard knows that Don Juan was a real flesh and blood person. No one who has visited Seville can have any doubt that a real Don Juan existed, for there is a statue of him in one of the city’s most beautiful plazas. The inscription on the statue reveals that his real name was Miguel de Manara, and one has only to visit Fairbanks Selects Hungarian As First Director In Nineteen Years (CURRENT STORY) Douglas Fairbanks is not accustomed to taking direction. As a matter of fact, he has been his own director for the past nineteen years. So it was a grand tribute from a great star to a great director when Doug placed himself wholeheartedly in the hands of Alexander Korda when he came to make “The Private Life of Don Juan,” his new London Films’ production for release through United Artists. The wisdom of this decision is evi¬ dent in the finished production, at the.Theatre, which has been hailed as Doug’s best film, and the star’s enthusiasm over the outcome is contained in his expres¬ sion of admiration for the distinguished Hungarian director. “Alexander Korda has brought characteristics out of me which I had no idea I possessed,” says Doug. “It is as if I had always been drawn in plain black and white. Korda puts in a lot of intricate shading—little characteristics which it is almost im¬ possible to observe in oneself, but which a clever director has the knack of discovering and bringing out.” Those who had access to the set reported that they had rarely seen such perfect harmony as prevailed during the filming of this most ambi¬ tious offering of the producers of “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and “Catherine the Great.” Korda they found always suave and quiet while directing, even when he had to control large crowds. He sel¬ dom raised his voice above a conver¬ sational tone. And the famous Fair¬ banks geniality was, of course, an important factor too in the smooth¬ ness and dispatch with which this gay romantic comedy in which Merle Oberon, Benita Hume, Joan Gardner and Binnie Barnes are importantly cast, went forward. the birthday of the original Don Juan, he placed a wreath at the foot of the statue, a gesture that was greatly ap¬ preciated by the Andalusian admirers of the great lover. Fairbanks also visited the ancient convent from which Don Juan is said to have eloped with a fair inmate, and he spent several hours in the city archives pouring over the ancient vol¬ umes dealing with the adventures of the Spanish hero whom he was re¬ creating for the screen under the di¬ rection of Alexander Korda in “The Private Life of Don Juan.” Doug had his heart in this role for not since “Robin Hood” and “The Three Musketeers” has he had a film which offered him so glamorous and swashbuckling a characterization as the name part in this picture. the ingenuity of makeup artists and cameramen for its being, Merle has troubled the dreams of astute Holly¬ wood producers ever since she played the tragic Ann Boleyn in London Films’ “The Private Life of Henry VIII.” Eager fans will see her again when “The Private Life of Don Juan,” Douglas Fairbanks’ new romantic comedy, produced abroad by London Films and released through United Artists, begins a. day showing at the. Theatre. Born In Tasmania An Australian girl, who first saw the light in Tasmania twenty-two years ago, she was born O’Brien- Thompson and christened Estelle Merle. Taken to India as a child of seven, she lived in Calcutta until four or five years ago, when she grew bored and travelled to England. She had given little thought to a professional career until a woman friend pointed out that there was only one right and proper place for a face like Estelle Merle’s, and that was, clearly, the motion picture screen. She got herself a small part in a film Harry Lachman was producing at Elstree, entitled “Aren’t We All?” Lunching in the studio commissary one day, she attracted the attention of Mrs. Alexander Korda, who en¬ thusiastically pointed her out to her distinguished director-husband. Signed By Korda Korda immediately gave her a role in a film called “Service For Ladies.” Then he signed her to a long-term contract and trimmed and altered her over-long name to its present perfect and glamorous proportions. Merle Oberon appeared in two more films, “Wedding Rehearsal” and “Men of Tomorrow” before she at¬ tracted general attention by her ap¬ pearance in “Henry VIII.” She has since scored a triumph abroad in the English version of “The Battle,” a French film success. The story goes that Merle had four trunks packed, preparatory to embark¬ ing for Hollywood to accept a de¬ cidedly dazzling offer, but Korda and Doug Fairbanks persuaded her to re¬ main in England and be the latter’s leading lady in “The Private Life of Don Juan.” Remain she did and upon completion of this colorful produc¬ tion, she was immediately co-starred with Leslie Howard in Korda’s pro¬ duction of “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” so Hollywood simply had to reconcile itself to waiting some more. Camera Magic Puts Roofs On Roofless Film Village (CURRENT STORY) A complete village, with artificial moonlight streaming down upon it, was erected for “The Private Life of Don Juan,” Douglas Fairbanks’ new London Films starring vehicle, for United Artists release, currently show¬ ing at the .Theatre. Complete, that is, save for one de¬ tail.—None of the houses had a roof! When newspapermen, visiting the set, commented upon this architec¬ tural oddity, Perinal, director Alex¬ ander Korda’s famous cameraman, asked them to look into one of the cameras. They looked, and Presto! every last house was magically sup¬ plied with its respective roof. The secret was that a few inches from the camera were suspended miniature roofs, which had been care¬ fully adjusted to the view, for the few shots that would include the roofs of the buildings. Russian Princess In “Don Juan” Princess Paley, who is also known as Natalie Lelong, is seen as one of the beauties who cross the great lover’s path in “The Pri¬ vate Life of Don Juan," Douglas Fairbanks new London Films’ ro¬ mantic comedy currently at the _ - Theatre. Natalie, who is the daughter of the Russian Grand Duke Paul and granddaughter of Tsar Alex¬ ander III, has been starred in French motion pictures, but this marks her first appearance in an English-speaking role. “The Private Life of Don Juan" was directed by Alexander Korda for release through United Artists. DON JUAN IN TWO FAVORITE POSES