Variety (Jan 1943)

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January 6; 1943 Thirty-seventh P^SEETf Anniversary FLOCK OF NEW FILM FACES ON HORIZON TO OFFSET DWINDLING MALE STARS From World War I, Which Intrenched the Star System, This Global War Bids Fair to Destroy It, Especially the Men EMERGENCY COMPELS QUICK FLICK CLICKS 'ALICE' IN JIVE By H. Allen Smith By JACK JUNGMEYER Book atlracling beaucoup comment around N. Y. tagged 'Alice In Won'.'erland.' Tome snagging terrif bally despite fact it's channeled at juve trade. Amon<; nip-ups noted is one by Alec WooUcott, pastured crick. Intro is by Wooll- cotl. 'Info Plaase' mob upping interest in story via rave quotes from text. Retail store check reveals pop price not luring kiddies from current yen for prose of torso-tosscrs and fanners. Steady sale of book confined to uppercase non- draftables. ■Variety' cuffo-mugg caught talc in isorint edition with WooUcott blurb. Author hancocks self Lewis Carroll but understood he's really English Rev. named Dodgson. Illus- trations by John Tenniel nsg, considerably below par set by cartoonists who etched Thaw trial. Author making obvious play for Coast cash. Story ap- parently started as script for Disney tinter. Meller getaway soon dwindles to dull slapstick. Femme lead lacks s.a. needed foi b.o if pix go for this one. Tale opens with grade school siren at leisure on stuff called grass. Minx is apparently on o'imwit side and half asleep in first sentence. Action opens when talking rabbit enters. Author not satis- fled to have gabby hare, also has Easter-cgger lugging a watch. Perils-of-Pauline gimmick has doll prattfall into deep well searching for hassenpfeffer. Arrives at spot resembling Hialeah inflcld to find flagon tagged 'Drink Me.' Stuff's ap- parently dynamite and subdeb discovers self preshrunk. Throughout story she's continually shriveling or adding poundage. Author angles for wet hanky trade with femme bawling constantly, once yowling a puddle of eyewash that nearly drowns her. Doll Anally locates looney rabbit and gels her claws on a fan. Chance to hypo story here but author's clerical back- ground apparently damp-blanketed peeling. Routine slides through meetings with mob of Disney char- acters and girl has such a groggy noggin she thinks she's dame named Mabel, also a dopess. Encounters mouse and tries to sell him bill of goods on a puss named Dinah. Ani- mal gab IS strictly hoke throughout. Hayfleld sequence flnds heroine snagging leaf from a buttercup and for mo- ment reader feels the w.k. terp turn is about to begin but siren doesn't even shed her rayons. I Needs Abbott & CosUllo Switch | Daffy characters include King and Queen, assorted grem- lins and some tarts. Author shamelessly fobs off oldies in- cluding feeble gag about Cheshire Cat grinner. Tries to needle action with pot-throwing sequence, but Abbott Si Costello scriptcrs do better. Introduces drunken turtle who spews puns faster than Hope, and wastes chapter on al fresco brawl involving another rabbit and a draft hatmaker. This sequence is a direct theft from The Man Who C T D," though in this case dialog smells. Author's effort here was to create psychopathic ward situash but idea brodies and merely resembles tabletalk at.Lindy's. Climax spotlights screwy croquet game (oke fodder for WooUcott, a wicket man) followed by shabby device of jury trial done a la Cliff Nazarro with all hands orry-eyed. Understood Disney unlikely to option yarn despite bends It's getting via literati and caviar mob. Story ed at major studio reported interested. Intro describes author as' celi- bate, hence his scorn for s.a. motif. Tentful of animals in- volved but even they've been Paulmossed. Siren's gams never mentioned. Mess might be succored for pix as nabe house throw-in. Script needs Ben Hccht to unsapolio story, handing Lana Turner femme lead and subbing Errol Flynn for rabbit. Cole Porter score would help particularly in sequence in- volving tarts. Understood author already plotting sequel involving tragic character labeled Humpty Dumpty. Has Laughton In mind. Sgts. Tap Camp B.O. Till Detroit, Jan. 3. Accu.sed of being the ringleaders of a group which allegedly stole between $6,000 and $8,000 from Fort Custer's picture threatres, three Army sergeants were under military arrest and facing a general court-martial on charges of conspiracy to embezzle. The Army asked their names be withheld pending the trial. According to George T. Shank, post commander, the thefts occurred during a period of more than a year and were discovered a month ago after 11 soldiers, the majority non-commissioned officers, were (luestioned by a board set up to check the post's theatre shortages. Several are said to have confessed and will be witnesses against the ringleaders and several more may be ordered to court-martial. The exact sum taken from the four theatres at Fort Custer could not be determined, it was said. In most instances, it was said, soldier ticket takers and sellers conspired to sell admissions, withhold tickets from the boxes and offer them for resale, pocketing the funds. Reports on the amounts varied, one soldier having ad- mitted 'the take was worth at least $100 a week to me,' and another saying he got $20 weekly. One soldier's father made restitution of $260 for his son's part In the conspiracy, the first of its kind uncovered in the Army's picture houses. Hollywood, Jan. 3. The two great wars embraced in the life-span of motion pictures have had a profound and opposing influence on the character and trend of the industry, in some major respects. World War I confirmed and intrenched the star system in the young and exuberant film world. The Global War, in its first year for America, shows indi- cations of destroying the star system, especially on the male side. War drains on the male rank have been greatly accelerated during the past few months, both through the draft and the individual's patriotic urge, even when deferment or military immunity were indicated. In the past month over 100 mem- bers of the Screen Actors Guild have withdrawn to enter the services, including Clark Gable and other stars, while only 65 new applications were made, mostly junior members and extras. Vr.c vets are going out of film circula- tion faster than the new ones are coming in. Stars and familiar faces, idolized for years on the screen, are gone with the wind for the duration—often before their last-made pic- ture has been edited for release. One Year Later NO PEBMANENT TOUNG MALE STABS I Young players of military age and the qualities which usually go with star calibre will suddenly be toplined In one or two pictures and proceed naturally into the armed services, to be succeeded as briefly by others. There cannot hence- forth, for the war's duration, be any permanent young male stars. And the indications are that this impermanency of familiar names and faces will establish a corresponding habit on the part of flim audiences, especially among the younger customers, toward less and less definite hero worship. It may even the women stars, although that is less likely. Studios were foreseeing the male casting problem, the star dearth, some months ago, and are now frantically con- cerned to make compensation. An indication is the increased stress on getting sureflre properties, of a calibre strong enough to carry the player, competent though he will have to be, or with the female roles dominant. What will remain as more or less permanent reaction to these^ problems affect- ing the star system will, of course, depend considerably upon how long the war lasts. Also to be figured is the star- worshiping trait of the American people, in and out of the realm of Aim and theatre.. The star system, therefore, if doomed, will die hard and slowly. FAST CLICKEROOS I The young and not-so-young males who reached promi- nence this past year had to win their status quickly, for the most part. There was little time to groom them, to rate them along. Often they made the marquee in one or two pictures after a running start. In numbers and importance the men equalled the feminine newcomers, and in calibre they compared with the general run of topline recruits for any previous year. Heading the rosier of 1942 personalities and newly-blazoned names were Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, George Montgomery, William Lundigan, Robert Stack, Roddy McDowall, Paul Henreid, Van Johnson, Macdonald Carey, Dana Andrews, William Bendix, Gene Kelly, Jean Gabin, imported full-fledged from France; Walter Slezak, Otto Preminger, as an actor (previously a director). Gig Young. I THE FEMMES I Looming on the distaff side were Teresa Wright, Betty Hutton, Marsha Hunt, Diana Barrymore, Maria Montez, Ann Baxter, Alexis Smith, Jane Frazee, Joan Leslie. Ann Ruther- ford, now grown up for mature stardom; Lynn Bari, grad- uated from stock; Marjorie Reynolds, Barbara Britton, Susan Peters, Signc Hasso, Louise AUbritton. Gloria Jean, now a teen-age singing actress; Michele Morgan, Irene Manning. Nancy Coleman. Sensing the shortened time element, no crop of prospect.s ever worked harder to reach quickly the top brackets than this 1942 group of war-conditioned players, male and female, child and juve. The curve of their effort and rise coincided with a big boxoffice season. That was an advantage. But they had also to compete their performances, the evidences of their stellar calibre, against the sheer'excitement and stir- ring nature of the novel battle pictures which tended to subordinate the personal equation of the wallop of the drama. Ann Baxter, combining marked talent, charm and youth appeal, is an outstanding star product of the year at 20th- Fox. Memorable was her role on loanout for the Or.son Welles picture at RKO, "The Magnificent Ambersons.' She played opposite Monty Woolley in 20th's 'The Pied Piper.' Her rise is testimony to careful coaching and executive rating through minor but increasingly important roles until she was fully ready for topline assignment. She now has a lead with Tyrone Power in 'Crash Dive' and was a contender for 'The Song of Bernadette.' VAN HEFLIN AND ALAN LADD I Van Heflin, with versatile talent and persuasive personality. Is Metro's banner toter for the year. He showed his calibre and range in 'Grand Central Murder.' 'The Feminine Touch.' •The Seven Sweethearts,' 'Tennessee Johnson' and in the lead In 'Presenting Lily Mars.' He came to films from the Kath- arine Hepburn legit starrer, 'The Philadelphia Story.' His click in pictures was swift and impressive. Alan Ladd made it in one at Paramount in the acrid 'This Gun for Hire,' which got critic kudos and public favor. He followed with conArmed excellence in 'The Glass Key' and "Lucky Jordan,' his saturnine crook characterization measur- ing up with the best of the veterans' performances in similar parts. Ladd is one of the younger players who is exempt from military service. At Paramount, too, MacDonald Carey made his bid and hi.- (Continued on page 65) By LIEUT. CIAUDE BINYON Lleot. Claude ' Blnyon 'Miss Snyder, come in here a minute. 'Look, Miss Snyder, I've got four pictures to finish befor* the end of the year, and you're getting, paid to sit in that outer office and see that I don't get interrupted by a lot ot jerks. I've got an idiot niece that could handle your job. Miss Snyder, but IH be satisAed if youll only sit on that big, fat cushion of yours and weed out the ]erks. Where in the devil were you? 'Well. . . where were you before thatT ,Why can't you stuff enough In your stom- ach to hold you to noon? And where were you before you went out to eat? 'But you said you went there after you ate. You mean to stand there and teU me that you went be/ore ond a/ter? What's the matter with you, Miss Sny- der? 'I'm not prying into anybody's personal affairs. I simply said . . . Took, Miss Snyder, will you for God's sake quit crying and get out ot here?' ONE YEAH LATEB 'What are v<m talfcin0 about—'flood momtnfl'? Fifty' five minutes on that Imisy bus, Mist Snyder, and In my own car I used to make it in eight! Me, with 14 top pictures to my credit, riding to work on busSea with that stinking A hook! 'Did you read what General Eisenhower, said, about how essential picture^ are for the soldiers? Who produces those pictures? Me, with a stinking A book! If I wasn't so essential I'd cut mv throat. 'Look, Miss Snyder, how do you get down so early every morning? Oh, you do? Your oum car? A C book? 'What in hell kind of a war is this? After all. Miss Snyder, I hate to keep bringing this up—but I've got an idiot niece— •Oh . . . Red Cross work, huh? Oh . .. Yeah . . . •Uh—look. Miss Snyder. ' This is everybody's war- right? We're all in it together—right? It's up fo oil of us to do uihatever uie con fo help each other—like share- the-ride and things like that. 'Now, I was thinking— 'Sure, Miss Snyder. Co fight ahead. Til ujatch the oj^^tce till you get back. 'Sure, Miss Snyder. Take your time.' Draft the Draft Board 'How do you like those guys! I read in the papers that they'll start calling marrifed guys in about six months, and they're trying to make me lA now! What do they think my wife is—a mirage? 'I'm no guy to carry a gun. For 10 years I've been running my wife's restaurant-being kind to drunks, busting up Aghts, smiling at dopes. I'm soft! I'm peaceful! 'You know what they ought to do to that draft board? Yeah. I know—but you know what they ought to do? DraK 'em! Draft 'em and then shoot 'em. 'Okay, but they're not going to get me. Know what Vm going to do? Join the Navy! 'Sure, I've got an in. They can use a guy like me, to run one ot their big commissaries. Say like in San Diego. They need me. They need a man they can say to, 'Now we've got 5,000 men to feed; how much food would you order?' So I tell 'em. Could you tell "cm? See what I mean? 'I don't know what they'll offer me. Maybe a lieutenant Maybe a lieutenant commander. It depends on how many men to feed. 'I'm not dumb. A Navy sails on its belly. They need me.' ONE TEAR LATEE 'Right here on the slceue—this tells u^haf I am. Second cook, third closs. No, I ain't the man directiv in charge. Tlieu got a goof that had an in. 'No, I ain't beefing. There's a war on. No complaints, Mac. That lousy draft board. •Oil, I'm up at three every morning, busting eggs into a 200-gallon pot. A slow fire does it, Mac. A slou> fire and keep stirring. That u'ay vou keep the top 100 gallons from slaying raw while the bottom 100 cooks up. Honest to Cod, f stir 'em tcilh a shouel. ■Mashed potatoes, too—200 gallon pots. I could puke. JVo. I ain't beefing, Mac. 'Finally I get the stuff cooked, and these Macs come busting in acting like ihey were shoppers before the war. There I am. standing u>ith the eggs and the tnoshed potatoes, trith o spoon in my hand and my hack killing me. So they look at the eggs and potatoes and they look at me; and every now and then a guy pipes up: 'Geei, Mac, don't give me none of that pap.' 'My God, I'm human.' / could use a kind word. •You know what I'm going to do after we win this warT Listen to my wife bellyache, Mac; she's got a right.'