Variety (Mar 1949)

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VVLSt REVIEWS We4ne«dat* Bfurcli 2, 1949 Mother is a Freshman (COLOR) Hollywood, Feb. 25. 20th-Fox release of Walter Morosco prot cluction. Stars-Loretta Youngi Vjin John- win; feature! Rudy VaUee> -Barbara laaw- rence, Robert Arthur. Betty Lynn, Griflt Barnett. Kathleen Hughes. Directed by Lloyd 'Bacon. Screenplay^ Mary Loos. Richard Sale: based, on .story by Raphael Blaui camera (Technicolor)..'. Arthur E. Arllng; music, Alfred Newman; editor, William Reynolds. Tradeshown Feb. 24, '49. Running time. 80 MIMH. Abby Abbott,. . . , . .Loretta Young Prof. Richard Michaels.,.,. .Van Johnson Prof. John Heaslip '. Rudy Vallee Louise Sharp;, . .Barbara Lawrence Beaumont Jackson.. .... . .Robert Arthur Susan Betty Lynn Dean Glllingham..,...... Grifl! Barnett RHoda Adams ..Kathleen Hughes George .: ..- . . .. .. . Eddie Dunn Mrs. GilUngham... ,!... . .. Claire Meade Miss Grimes Virginia Brissac Mr, De Haven Charles Lane Mrs. Grammerton. Kathryji Card Butch:, ... .... . i ,. .Richard Taylor BeUlah... ...... ... . .'.. .'. Marietta Canty "Mother is a Freshman" is a nifty piece of entertainment, cram- ming a lot of fun into a snappy 80 minutes of footage. Trapped out In a fancy color garb, smartly cast, brightly dialoged, it's the type, of romantic comedy that carries an audience along a-, pleasure path that: makes the ticket price worth while. • Story could easily have bogged down in less understanding hands, Mary Loos and Richard Sale fash- ioned an adroit, clever script frdm the Raphael Blau story, punctuat- ing it with witty dialog and situa- tions that come off with a sock. Sympathetie directorial treatment from Lloyd Bacon, emphasized with bits of business and deft tim- ing, transfers the yarn, to the screen as ArstcUss entertainment. Picture belongs to three player.s; cohStars Loretta Young and Van Johnson, and featured actress Betty Lynn. There are able assists from others, but these three domi- . nate thei footage and: the fun. The plot to-do concerns Miss . Young's decision to take advantage of a family scholarship endowment and go to. college. She's a widow who . has run short of cash while wait- ing for a trust fund to come duei Her daughter, Miss Lynnv already is a student at the college and, • along with all the other co-eds, is in love with Van Johnson, lit pro- fessor. Mother proves to be an able student, book or look-wise, and beats out her fellow co-eds for the prof's affections. First 15 minutes of the show gets all the story twists established and by the time mother gets to college the pace is racing and holds that beat to the finale. The Loos-Sale dialog .is topnotch, pertly reflect- . ing the college student and adult in our times. Script is human and . treats the situations in a manner to make them credible. Backing the handsome maneuv- ering of the three previously men- tioned . players, are topnotch per- formances by Rudy Vallee, as a prissy lawyer; Barbara' Lawrence mother's college roommate; Kath- leen Hughes, another co-ed; Robert Arthur, romantically earnest stu- dent; and Griff Barnett, a wise dean. . Of high interest for the femmes : are the costumes worn by Miss Young. Miss Young also adorns the typical campus outfits, offering the strongest kind of competition to the sweatered and skirted co-eds of the Utah U campus where the pic- ture was filmed. Walter Morosco's production su- pervision is marked by the^particu- larly apt casting of the jroles, use of beautiful campus setting, and the sterling physical values that make this one a treat for the eyes. The Teehnlcolored lensing by : Arthiir JB. Arling shows oif the cast and sets. On the music side, Alfred Newman has a strong credit. Worked into the score are back- ground vocals of such tunes as "M-O-T-H-E-R," "Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" "Dream" and other pops that fit naturally. Brog. A Kiss In the Dark Hollywood, March 1. W.irncr Bros, release of Harry Kurnitz production; Stars David Niven, Jane Wy- manj features Victor Moore, Wayne Mor- ris, Broderick Crawford. Directed by Del- mar Daves. Screenplay, Kurnitz; from «tory by Everett and Devery Freeman; c.imera, Robert Burks: music. Max Stelner; editor; David Weisbart. Trader shown Feb. 28i '49. Running time. 88 wins; ■ E!ic Phillips .David Niven Polly Haines ... Jane Wyman Horace Willoughby... i... . Victor Moore Biuce Arnold .Wayne Morris Mr. Botts .....Broderick Crawford Peter Danllo.. i........ . Joseph Buloff Mme. Karina..........Maria Ouspensk<tya Schloss... .................:'... Curt Bois .Benton................,. .Perclval Vivian Martin Soames....... .Raymond Greenleaf chief lure in attracting returns for this one. Zany farcing has been given a capable production backing by Harry Kurnitz, who also scripted from the original by Everett and Devery Freeman. Physical values are not lush, but are sufficiently smooth to background the romantic antics which the good direction by Delmer Daves point up. Starring opposite Miss Wyftian is David Niveh as a high strung con- cert pianist. Plot revolves around the upset played with the normal pattern of his life when his busi- ness manager buys an apartment for him. Ex-owner of the informally operated menage, and the.; oddly assorted tenants whom he has coddled, practically adopt the re- luctant pianist; and before he knows it, he has been turned into a human being with an appreciar tion for a well-turned gam or a well-Swung right uppercut. Miss 'Wyman gives Niven the. gam treatment, and also will re- mind audiences that she has ex- tremely atteactive unden)inning. As a model of sports wear, she has a chance to strike plenty of cheese- cake poses in the brief costumes which she 'enhances. Actress also handles some snappy dialog , and situations ably for comedy values. Niven gives an excellent reading to his part. ^ ,v Victor Mopre is a choice laugh- getter, as the former apartment owner, a man of eccentric hobbies. His deft sense of timing generally sparks a good flavor of fun, Wayne Morris, insurance sales- man and Niven's rival in -Miss Wyraan's affections; Broderick Crawford, ha ra s se d nighttime worker whose nerves crack during his daytimes in the noisy apart- ment; Joseph Bulofl, Niven's grasp- ing manager; Maria Ouspenskaya, .Curt Bois and others hold up their assignments capably. . A lot of classical music is woven into the score, plus the venerable Victor Herbert jtitle number; In- terspersing of serious music is treated straight but adds to the comedy, particularly as used to chase Crawford from his daytime slumbers. Robert Burks* lensing displays players and settings ably, and a concise job Of editing has been contributed by David Weisf bart. Bi'Ofl- Miniature Reviews "Mother Is a Freshman" (Color) (20th). Delightful, credible romantic comedy for all types of audiences. "A Kiss In the Dark" (WB). Zany, tomantic f arqe with good laugh content. "EI Paso" (Color) Par). Sturdy commercial western slanted for good reception in the action market. "Tale of the Najrajos" (Col- ttct (Metro). Slow-moving doc- umentary about Indian lore for special situations; "The Walking Hills" (Col). Fine westerner with solid cast for good b.o. in all situations. "Sheriff of .Wichita" (Rep). Good Allan "Rocky" Lane oater for the Saturday matinee "Devil's Daugrhter" (French). Pierre Fresnay, Fernand Le-- doux, Andree Clement in mel- ler;' strong .for arty spots. "Ride, Ryder, Ride!" (Color) (EL). Sturdy oater for the Saturday matinee trade. "Bomba. the Jungle Boy" (Mono); .Good programmer for the kiddie trade Inltialer of ■ new series. ' "Hidden Dancer" (Mono). Routine low-budgeted western. "Rozina. the Love-Cliild" (Czechoslovakian). Ponderous costume tragedy, mild even for - fdreignrlanguage spots.. Kl Paso (COLOR) Hollywood, Feb. 26. Par<™ount release of William Pine-Wil- liam Thomas (J. Robert Bren) production, stars John Payne, Gall Russell, Sterling Hayden. George "Gabby" Hayes, ^ Dick Foran; features Eduardo Noriega, Henry Hull, Mary Beth Hughes, H. B. Warner, Bobby Ellia. Directed by Lewis R. Foster, Screenplay, Foster; based on story by J. Robert Bren, Gladys Atwater; camera (Cinecolor), Ellis W. Carter: music, Dar- rell Calker; -editor, Howard Smith. Trade- shown Feb. 25, '49. Running time^ 108 -MTNS. , , ' Clay Fletcher.. .. ... . .... .. John Payne Susan Jefters............ Gall Russell Bert Donner . . Sterling Hayden "Pesky" George . "Gabby" Hayes Sheriff La Farge: Dick Foran Don Nacho Vasquez. .. Eduardo Noriega .Tudge Jefters ... ,i . Henry Hull Stagecoach Nellie M3ry Beth Hughes Judge Fletcher..... i...... H. B. Warner .Tack Elkins Bobby EUts ■John ^Jkins,. .. ArUiur Space Mrs.' Elkins . ..Gatherine Craig Indian Chief.............Chief Yowlachie Indian Joe.................. Steve Garay A nifty combination of the best tricks and thrills of the standard western programmer with a fea- ture story makes "El Paso"'an ex- cellent entry for the action market. It will show a healthy profit in all but the de luxer situations. Only detraction from the slam- bang way it goes about its wild west story is the length of footage. The 103 minutes running time needs decisive scissoring, particu- larly to tighten the flat ending. Up to that point, ■except for overlength of the mass battle in a dust storm, It carries . a load of spectacular action and has a gusty handling that will set very well with lovers of brawling outdoor stuff. Lewis R. Foster directed from his own script, detailing early days in El Paso right after the War Be- tween States and what happens to a southern attorney, who comes west on business and to look up an old love. Affronted with lawless- ness of the town, domineered by a Switch from heavy drama to romantic slapstick , by Jane Wyr man comes off rather neatly in "A Kiss in the Dark." Actress doesn't have a particularly strong vehicle With which to make the switch, pic- ture being'the lightest kind of fluff, but it plays at a good pace and carries a lot of pleasant laughs. As the Wyman name ha.s. gained lustre from her recent 'successful /'Johnny Belinda," it should serve as . the i The Wandering Jew '*The Wandering Jew," Ital- ian-made film opening at the Little Met, . N, Y., tomorrow (3), was reviewed in Variety from Rome April 14, 1948. Pic, which reincarnates in its hero the Jew doomed by Christ to eternal wandering, was thought by reviewer "to have a strong potential for export success, with particularly favorable re- actions on American market." Reviewer also felt, "that ex- cept for .symbolical angle, pic registers very well, with plenty of sti'ong action, impressive scenes and an excellent cast headed b.'y Valentina Cortesc" .ijiow under contract to 20th- Fax). gang of cutthroat^ .the attorney sticks around to. save the people. He finds that Blackstone's rules of procedure must be reinforced by sixgun, becomes a marauder him- self, only to see the .error of his ways, and refdrms.'; ' ' ' A casting surprise is John Payne as the barrister turned gunslinger. Story gives as logical explanation of the twist, Payne having been a Confederate cavalry captain. He sits easy in the saddle and In gen- eral, gives an excellent account of himself. Chief star of the film, however, as far as the smallfry western -fan is concerned, is whiskered George "Gabby"- Hayes. He has a running gag routine with a couple of slick Indian traders that's good for chuckles -and gets the most from the scenes. Gail Russell is the heroine, tied to a drunken father played by.Heftry Hull, both fit in well. Sterling Hayden is not too convincing as the gang, leader. Dick Foran does okay by the crooked sheriff assign' ment. There's a colorful Mexican rdle filled by Eduardo Noriega as a fast two-gun slinger. A good action treat is his coaching of Payne in swift drawing of the frontier weapon. Mary Beth Hughes spots neat comedy touch as a gal who regularly works the stagecoaches relieving gents of their pokes. Cinecolor hues used in the lenS' ing show up the outdoor setting beautifully but are muddy when the camera moves indoors. Loca- tions add sweep to chase sequences being raw, western scenery of rough mountains and dales. Script is based on a story by J. Robert Bren and Gladys At- water, and Bren served as associate producer to Pine & Thomas. Ex- cellent camera work is contributed by Ellis W. Carter. Brog. Tale of the IVavajos (COLOR) Metro release of John A. Haeseler pro- duction, story, Haeseler, ILirry Chandlers narration, Edwin Jernme; music, Lan Adomian. Tradeshown N. Y., Feb. 24, '49. Running time, M MINS. A chance to do a much-needed documentary on modern American Indian life was muffed in this indie production which Metro bought out. "Tale of the Navajos" starts out as an intere.sting factual record but soon loses its way in mystical lore and legends. Standout aspect of this pic is the superb Techni- color lensing by an unbilled cameraman of the western land- scapes with their astonishing rock formations. But too much accent is placed on scenery and not enough on people to carry atten- tion; Film can be slotted as a dualer in special situation.s. Slight yam binding together the panoramic shots concerns the search of an Indian and white boy for a lush pasture land located on top of a remote mountain, accord- ing to one of the Navaja myths, Several sequences showing the kids climbing the perpendicular cliffs are fascinating as are the glimpses of the wild life. But the film meanders, for the most part, very slowly through its story. One. of the major flaws is the repetitious background narration which weaves a soporific instead of the intended hypnotic effect. Constant ' references to Indian I god.s, without explanations, are bafl-'inK, while fragments of Navajo ; nn < "V are drdned bWr and -over« again. Herm. The Walking Hills (SONGS) Columbia release of Harry Joe Brown Sreduction, Stan. Randolph Scott, Ella alnes; features William Bishop, Edgar Buchanan. Directed' by -John : SturgM. Screenplay. Alan LeMay: additional dia- log, Virginia Roddick: camera,, Charles Lawton, Jr.: editor, William Lyon; score, Arthur' Morton; musical director, M. W. Stoloft.' Tradeshown'N; Y.. Feb. '9S, '49. Running time, ^8 MIN8. Jim Carey:.......,.«..'.,. Randolph Scott Chris Jackson EUa Raines Shell .. ., ...,. sWllUam Bishop Old Willy.. ,;.^.»...... .IklEar Buchanan Chalk... ............... .Arthur Kennedy Fraiee .................. . John IrcUind Johnny............... .Jerome Courtland Josh.:.ii....... .. Josh White Bibbs...... .... Russell Collins Cleve... V-.. -:. i.........Charles Stevens King .................Houseley Stevenson Young King., .Heed .Howes An intriguing theme, good cast and tight direction combine to make "The Walking Hills" an out- of-the-way westerner for nice play at the boxoffice in all situations. Pic has a full share of straight ac- tion but the main kick derives from its gallery of sharp portraits of an assorted group on the prowl for. a buried treasure in Death Valley. : , Screenplay's attempt to handle, the cross-currents of greed for gold and a three-^way romantic tangle is not fully successful due to a slightly hazy plot structure. But the main outlines of a sharp human conflict are made to emerge none- theless in an atmosphere of eler mental drives and against the hos- tile background of the desert. Mainly responsible for this are John Sturges' controlled and modu- lated direction, some standout-'per- formances and superlative scenic photography, toned with sepia. Opening in a. Mexican border town, yarn introduces eight men who-' accidentally stumble on some information pointing to the location in the desert of a 100-year old wagon train presumably loaded with bullion. Joining together to protect their interests against out- siders, the group comprises a horse, breeder, a private detective who's just nabbed his man, the wanted murderer, two other shady charac- ters, a Negro entertainer, a bar- keep and an old-time prospector. Later, they are joined by a gal, EUa Raines, who becomes the pivot for the romantic triangle: - Major portion of the film con- cerns the digging for the treasure and developing hatreds among the men. Brawls break: out and finally mount to a point where three men are killed, including the dick and two of the criminals. At the climax, a terrific sandstorm blows up which scatters the searching party for a time and then uncovers the gold. The amorous complications'are solved with JVSss Raines riding away with the> wanted murderer who goes to turn himself in. In the lead role, Randolph Scott, as ' the horse-breeder^ contributes one of his standard straight-jawed, straight - shooting performances. Miss Raines has a relatively minor role which she acquits competently. Excellent characterizations are con- tributed by John Ireland, as the «I Am With ¥on' "I Am With .You," Swedish- made picture which has been dubbed into English for U. S. distribution, should be natural for the religioso circuits but has little to offer the commer- cial boxoffice, even in the art houses. Story of a Protestant Swedish missionary, the pic- ture was lensed entirely on lo- cation in Southern Rhodesia and the authentic African set- ting, coupled . with a fairly- interesting .story, make it an okay production. Entire theme, plus the dialog, revolve around the missionary's soul'^aving venture among the Afri- can natives, however, which will militate too strongly against its t h e a t r i c a 1 b.o. chances. Dubbing job. is a good one. Even close study of the actors' lips reveal little trouble with synchronization and the voices chosen to match the actors are suited to each. Even so, the lack of near-peffect synch work is present in sufficient measure to indicate that sub- titling, to which American au- diences are already accus- tomed, is still the best method of foreign film presentation in this country. The story itself has the missionary losing faith after his wife and only Child both die in Africa. He's ready to resign his post and return to Sweden when a young na- tive girl proves to him with her unbounded faith, despite severe difficulties, that he must stay and try to convert others. The picture opened Monday (28) at the Normandie, N. Y., for its American bow. Rudolph Carlson Productions, indie N. Y. outfit, is handling domes- tic theatrical distribution, with Religious Film Assn., N. Y., dl.s(ribbing it in 16m foftn to churtihes; schools, etc. detective; Arthur Kennedy, as a surly underworld drifter; William Bishop, as the murderer; Edgar Buchanan, as the old-timer; Russell Collins, as the barkeep, and Jerome Courtland, as a young cowboy who's also wanted by the police. Josh White adds importantly to the film >with his renditions of a-ccuple of blues numbers and folk baUads. Hcfjn. Sheriff oH Wiehita Hollywood, Feb; 25. Republic release of Gordon Kay pro> ductlon. stars AUan"Rocky" Lane; Fea- tures Eddy Waller, Roy Barcroft, Lyn Wilde, Clayton Moore, Eugene Roth, Tre- vor. Bardette. Directed by R. G. Sprinfj- steen. Screenplay, Bob Williams; clmera, John MacBurnie; editor, Tony Martinelli. Previewed' Feb. 24. '49, Running time, 60 MINS., Allan "Rocky" Lane, .Allan "Rocky" Liinc His Stallion ................ Black JiKli Nugget Clark .. .:.... Eddy ; WiilU-r Sam Stark . ..... . ... ... . . Roy Bam-oft Nancy Bishop Lyn WilUe Raymond D'Arcy......... .Clayton Moore Howard Thornton...... . . Eugene Rolh. Ira Flanders............ Trevor Barilelte Jack Thorne............House Peters. .Ir. Jenkins.. : ................ Enrle Hodeins James . .v. . . . . . . . .......Edmund Cobb Warden,.r........ ........John Hamilton Will..... .i ... i..........., .Steve Raines Joe.Jack O'Shea Allan "Rocky" Lane gives the proper authority to "Sheriff of Wichita" to make it okay fodder for the juve patrons of oaters. Moppets may ^ave some trouble following all .the story twists^ but the action is strong with enough tricks to please their fancy. In putting his original script to- gether. Bob Williams made it a bit more complicated than usual with straight western plots, but it's never confusing. This time Lane is on the trail of a five-yearrold Army payroll robbery. The lieutenant who was convicted of the crime escapes prison after receiving a mysterious letter. He goes to an old fort, only to find other recipi- ents of . similar missives gathered there with Lane unravel- ling Of the payroll disappearance. It comes.out okay when Lane finds the money, clears the lieutenant and the name of a dead major,Vand the crooks go to jail.* .' R. G. Springsteen's direction'in:<: jects plenty of chases, a number of fist fights and a spectacular Stunt or two, such as Lane doin^ a home-base slide, to appeal to the kiddies. Aiding Lane and his lion. Black Jack in solving the western mystery, are Eddy Waller, Lyn Wilde, Clayton Moore, House Peters, Jr., and others. Villainy is ably contributed by Roy Barcroft, Trevor Bardette, Eugene Roth, among others. ; : . Production supervision by Gor- don Kay helps to maintain general suitability of the Lane series lor the market-at which it is aimed and technical assists measure up. I ' ■ Brog. Ilevll's Daughter (FRENCH) International Alliance Films release Of Pathe-Cinema'SaHa production. .Stars Pierre Fresnay, Fernand Ledoux. Anilree. Clement. Directed by Maurice Saurel. Screenplay, M, G. Sauvajon, Henri Deeoin. Alex. Joffe from story by .Toffe, Jean Le Vitte: camera, Armand Thirard; editor, Bretonneche. At Ambas.<iador. N. v.. starting Feb. 2Si. '49. Running iime. »8 91 INS. ^ Saget..........:.......... Pierre Fresnay The Doctor..' .Fernand Ledoux Isabelle. . .. .;,>.... .... .Andree Clement Aunt Hortense. Therese Dnrnv Clement .. Albert Rcmy N'A Qu'Un Sou;........ .Serge AndrcKtiy Little Boy..:.....;...... Albert Glado George,................ .Francois Patrice S-ilnt-Jean,. Felix Cliiiirie The Mayor Robert Seller The Priest.. , Pierre Juvenet The Bartender............Paul Frankcur Watchman... i Andre Wasley Policeman i.......... . Amato Ludovlc Mercler.......... Henri Charret (In French; Enfjflish Titles) , Although made in France over three years ago, "Devil's Daugh- ter," . is an intriguing liuman-in- terest drama in the pre-war French cinematic tradition. Picture smacks of the old nuances, bright direc- tion; nice portrayals and marked realism for which French produ- cers were known before the war. It will draw well in arty and foreign- language houses, and'may even go okay in other American- theatres. There is nothing particularly original In the story of a notorious bank robber being able to a.ssiime the guise of a returning villafier who. has made a fortune in the U. S. when the latter is accident- ally killed in an auto crash N"' Is the situation which finds him emulating a rich do-gooder and a man of distinction among hi.s old townsmen. But M. G. Sauvajon, Henri Decoin and Alex Joffe have dressed this up, given the not un- familiar situations verve and made it .iell. One medium employed i.s lliat of having the town doctor, wlio liad dressed' the robber's woun(l,s isup- posedly suffered in the aiifo acci- dent), gently blackmailing the bandit into giving accidcnlalLv- found money to various local chan- ties. The point that the medico knows the masquerading niillion- aire to be the daring robhcr is deftly but quietlv eslabli.'ilHMl carl.v. While the robber likes Die pi'C''^'' heaped on him for his frr">-.'iiving, (Continued on page 20)