The Firebird (Warner Bros.) (1934)

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GLE INPUT EOL INP your atiention, please REPORTER THE FIREBIRD DISTINCTIVE 4275 AND UNUSUAL CLASS FILM Writing, Action, Direction Superb “FIREBIRD” (Warners) There can be no criticism of a picture of the uniformly high excellence of “The Firebird” other than that it may be TOO good Public taste being what it is, a delicate theme such as this—directed, written and produced with due regard to delicacies and nuances—may be completely over the heads of the average audience. "The Firebird’ is therefore a challenge to the exhibitor's showmanship. Fad it come to you with a foreign jabel and a handful of rave notices from high-brow critics, you would give it a campaign much as you did—well, say "’Maedchen in Uniform.’ And with the impetus of such a campaign, ‘The Firebird” will duplicate the success of any importa tion. It is distinguished product and should be sold with distinction. Dieterle has directed with his usual authority. With the aid of Ernest Haller at the camera, he composes pictures of great beauty. The photography and lighting throughout are magnificent. So, too, are the performances. "The Firebird’ introduces a new star come into her own at last. Anita Louise, who has been slowly growing up in Hollywood, emerges here, not only a young lady of rare beauty, but an accomplished dramatic actress. Her reading of the murder confession brought down the house. Verree Teasdale likewise takes another step toward stardom. Here is a distinctive personality that, with proper exploitation, will put her name in lights before the season is over. In support Lionel Atwill, C. Aubrey Smith, Dorothy Tree and Helen Trenholme gave splendid account of themselves. Etienne Girardot and Spencer Charters are responsible for the majority of the comedy and handle it excellently. The story has been made into a fine, intelligent and sympathetic screen play by Charles Kenyon. It EMS The screening of ‘The Firebird” offers the interesting novelty of using the murder mystery pattern to pose a morals problem evolved from parental discipline and juvenile rebellion for tragic results. Written, played and directed with convincing intensity, its very departure from the lighter, standardized film mystery treatment which usually shapes merely to unravelment of crime offers absorbing entertainment, with deftly handled suspense both as to the circumstances and motivations for the killing of a philandering ego-maniac. Exceptionally good playing by Verree Teasdale, Lionel Atwill, Anita Louise and C. Aubrey Smith in the principal spots translates the tragic tale with power. Ricardo Cortez, in the role of the vainglorious and promiscuous actor-lover whose murder provides the crux of the play, is also effective. Verree Teasdale does an impressive job as the mother who seeks by fumbling confession to assume blame for the killing in place of her daughter, Anita Louise. Miss Teasdale with fine emotional quality avoids what might nave been a conventional situation. Lionel Atwill scores solidly as the husband and father whose suspicions lead to the confessions of both the wife and eventually the daughter. Anita Louise steps out with a magnificent characterization of the sophisticated, but overly coddled ingenue. Her revelation scene with C. Aubrey Smith as the police inspector, is outstanding. C. Aubrey Smith is flawless as a genuine head of police, and the picture is played without plot resort to the stupidity or buffonery of the gendarmerie, which has become acliche of murder mysteries. Comedy, while short in quantity, is deftly provided by Hobart Cavanaugh as Cortez’s valet and by Etienne Girardot as an harrassed professor who is more wrought up over noises than murders. Smaller parts are ably done by Dorothy Tree, Spencer Charters, Robert Barrat, Florence Fair and Helen Trenholme. William Dieterle’s direction deftly finesses his material for genuine suspense, sound character reactions and smartly sustained progression. Charles Kenyon has done an excellent job in the screen play, avoiding the trite, tying his dramatic sequences tight and holding an impressive singléness of mood, with no audience tricking to punch the tragic climax. is distinguished product and should be sold with distinction! Page Two