Variety (February 1950)

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Wediiesj« 7 « Febrniuy J, 1950 CKsinging public tastes and the added impact of theatre divorce- ment are confronting Hollywood with new talent problems that stu^ dios must grapple with if they want to come out on top. That’s tho conviction of D.; A; Doran» Par-- j anibunt studio exec, who thinks that divorceihent will speed a re-| vamped approach tp, the prbblein of getting new faces before piej cameras.’-- -. Doran believes that “good looks” i in players no longer carry the bbxr j office wallop of past years, More- over, because top stars “can al- ways command their price in this markets since there aren’t enough of them to go arOurid/* the added pressure for. cosl-saVirtg which : di- vorcement spells means a height- ened heed for Hollywood , to get those hew facesV particularly from the Broadway legit stage. . “We’ve been inclined to hold on to looks as the test on star values ” Doran sairl. “That tendency is a hangover from silent days. The public is demonstrating that talent is far more important than looks: Look at Paul Douglas, for instance. He ahd others of hiS kind have Caught the public imagination.’’ Legit continues to produce a covey of: new stars every season; arid Holly wood inust* follow that lead, Doran declared. “Jiilie Har- ris ; fcurrently in the legit. ‘Meni- ber of the Wedding’) isn’t a coyer girl ideal,” he explained, -^^but she has .\yhat it takes at the boxoffice. Hollywood has still' to swalldw completely this fact. Henry _ Gins- berg (Paramount studio chief) is alert to this idea, and we are doing our utmost to develop hew people.” Doran sees a jcloser parallel be- tween films and* legit in other re- spects. For instance, the growing tendency to hire talent for a par- j ticular part. “No longer will we : take on a big number of players and let them sit around,” he said. “Our treatment is getting closer and closer to the. theatre. Rodgcr.s & Hammerstein don’t sign up 25 players on long contracts because thev will make: three nlays.” Divorcement has driven home the le.ssoh that pix, like plays, “are a terrifie gamble,”. Paramounter declared. .“In the theatre, a play closes in a couple days, if it’s bad. and there is no way of getting back an investment. On a bad picture, you really lose your shirt in the' present market. You don’t get back 50% of your negative cost. There are no theatres to count on to bail the studio. “Our problem in divorcement is simply to make better films at a better price,” he added. “I re- member the days in the past when 10% of a studio’s product lineup could carry a season’s output. But enormous costs of films nowadays makes it impossible to pick up the losses on bad films. The public goes to an attraction these days and not to the theatres out of habit, “Casts used to sell pictures, but not anymore,” Doran opined. “If the public says it doesn’t want a picture, then Garbo, Gable or any- one : else won’t do it ainy good. If the film is good and has a top cast, all the better.; But it niust first be good.” Doran sees diyor^ihent mean- ing closer liaison between the stu- dio and the h. o/ {Stories must be. studied and ref studied with ut- most care aind tn^en handpicked. . “The days of maKihg eight pic- tures at $1,000,0001 apiece is non- sense and done with,'V he added. ‘Tf a subject and cast warrant :a . $5,000,000 outlay for a picture, you ; make it. If it is too much, you .' don’t try to cut at the expense of I quality, you just don’t make it.” ■ A meeting of the Veterans Hos- pital Camp Shows board of direc- tors slated for Friday ^3) in New York will determine the fate Of that organization providing enter- tainment to disabled vets in niili- taiy and Veterans AdmihiStration ho.spitals throughout the country- Meeting was necessitated by the sudden announcement last week that the VHGS. parent orgahiza- tioh, United Service Organizations, was to disband as of yesterday (31) with only, a skeleton force to be maintained as a nucleus for a group which could resume large- scale operations in a national emergency. Abe Lastfogel, VHCS president, who is also William Morris; Aficiicy general manager, came east late last week to take part in the de- liberations as to whether there’s the possibility of contihuing the organization. , USO’s defnise came suddenly. As a matter of fact, VHGS Was notified several weeks ago that a US6 board ineeting would he held Saturday (4) to formally admit VHGS as a member agency of the USO. Friday’s meeting v/as origi- nally slated; for the purpose of passing a resolution accepting the USO’s bid to elevation of that body as a member agency! The other USO member agencies include Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Asshs,, National Catholic Community Service, Jewish Wel- fare Board and Salvation Army. USO has been in operation since 1940, when it tOofe over from the Friends of the Ariny arid Navy^ which was organized to entertain draftees. U$0-Camp Shows was formed as a separate corporation to service the training camps as well as war theatres all over the world. At the conclusion of the war, VHCS took over USO-Camp Shows’ function with jurisdiction Confined to entertainment in hos- WILL MAHONEY THE INIMItABLE Starting Fob: 9 ; the flamingo, las VEGAS ■•'•Direction- ”■ ASSOCIATED BOOKING CORP- ^ Hollywood, Jan. 31. • Metro is dickering with MiauricC Chevalier for latter to take a role in its upcoming filmusical, can in Paris.” Pie’s title* is based on a George Gershwin -coinpositioh» find will ihcludib many Gershwin humbers. 4 ilieatres In N# VHCS has sufficient funds to last until the end of March. NAMES FOR LONDON Hollywood, Jan. 31. Val Parnell, managing director of the Moss-Empire theatre circuit of Great Britain, and his wife are en route to Miami, from where they plane to London Feb. 7. While in Hollywood, Parnell, who books acts for the Palladium; theatre. London* inked Abbott & Costello, Danny Thomas, Tony Martin and Jimmy Durante for vaude appear- ahce.s. It’s understood that Red Skelton and Evelyn Knight were also pacted., Whole roster of talent was booked via; the Wiliiam Morris agency, although Eddie She:rman’s Abbott St Costello booking will* be handled on a split-cpmmission basis under Sherman’s old contract. llSG-orOvcr Cos. Washington, Jan; 31. One indication of where and how the Admihistration’s new tax pro- gram is expected to hit show busi- ness came over the weekendwhen it was disclosed that the proposals will ask increased tax rates for ^1 corporations earning :$119,000 and more a year. This Would affect all but the very small independent film producers, and would hit the large legit ‘ producers, exhibitor chains, large radio stations and nets, and various other branches of entertainment. Hearings open Thursday when Secretary of the ’Treasury John Snyder will take the stand to tell the House Ways and Means Com- mittee what the ' Adniinistration Would like to have in the way of new tax legislation. The program is not expected to include a reduc- tion in the 20% admissions tax nor in the 20% bite on nitery tabs. However, the film industry in. par- ticular—through Council of Motion Picture Organizations—is expected to make a strong and; unified plea at the hearings to have the levy cut back to the prewar 10% rate. Abram F. Myers, chairman of the COMPO committee on taxation and legislatiori, met last Friday with D; C. reps of the newsreels at the headquarters of the Motion Picture Assn, of America. Myers explained how the reels could help the tax cut drive, largely following the lines of his discussion with hewsreel editors in New York. To ■ 2/1 closed find check for ^ .... kse Send VARIETY for (Pleaii* piVini Street .\ . • • • • • ^^ k • i * .v. * • • .. ♦ * . . . • • •«• • • 9 ii, .Zoiie* • • •. State. ., ^ Rcguldr Subseriptipn Rdtei On* Yf Qr^$10.00 two Ycars^$18*00 Coiiodo ond UFortign—$1 Additionol ptr Year ^KfE'fr Inc. 1H WMf 4Mh Street . Mew Yorh 19, N. Y. Not Even a SouTenir! For three months Daily Variety mugg Mike Kaplan lugged 70 pounds of recording equipriient, a camera and a typewriter around Israel to fulfill radio and magazine commitments. He lost 25 pounds In the process, but acquired 26 tape recorded 15-niinute programs, 1,000 pix and several notebooks containing quotes fiom ^e hun- dred s Of people he talked to While roaming the tiny .country. Unable to carry it through Europe with him, Kaplan shipped the reborder, tapes, negatives and notes home, accompanied by book material he had been Working on before leavihg the U. S. He hasn’t seen the stuff since^it ‘ was lost in transit somewhere between Naples and New York. The loss probably makes Kaplan the first person to spend three months in Israel and return Without even a snapshot to remember the trip by. One of Broadway’s most im- portant blockfronts is in for . a facelifting that will give the entire Times' Square area a mew appear- ance, Robert W. Dowling, prez of City Investing Go., disclosed this j ! week. The change will be made in • the property on the west side of . Broadway between 45th: and 46th I. streets and part way up the block 1 oh the two side streets. Fbur theatres, all belonging to ^ Cl, are included in the iarea. They | [are the A.stor and Victoria oh' Broadway, the Fulton on 46th ; .; street; and the Bijou on 45th street. [ • Since the other three haive all been j recently remodeled, the only in-1 terior to be renovated will be that of the Astdr. Revision which Dowling is plan-, ning will put a facade on the four ! theatres tjiat will give them the I sweeping appearance, of being idl i one building. It will go from side- , walk to roof and .provide tre-r mendouS billboard space for ad-1 vertising the attractiohs ini the j houses. ; Street level Will be marked by i new store*'fronts of a uniform ap- | pearance, in place of the present varied facades. Old-fashioned of- fices over the theatres will have their windows hidden : by the sweeping new structure erected in front, of them. Dowling refused to estimate Monday (30) how much the change vvill cost- He said it will be start- ed as soon as various architectural designs have been studied and a satisfactory one agreed on. The change is a much less ex- pensive version of Cl’s original postwar plan for tearing down the four houses and adjoining proper- ties and erecting a new building with modern theatres^. That was scrapped as being tob costly dur- ing the present era of high build- ing charges. The present plan is a temporary substitute, v^ith Dowl- ing still aiming eventually to put up a new structure. Cl prexy said that he is also still planning two new 1,500-seat legit houses in another part of the Times Square area. Company owns i the ground for. one and is attempt- ! ing to buy property closeji by to , erect the other at the same time.' Dowling said he expected that' work wouldn’t begin for at least' two j^ears. Chi for Carson Unit Los Angeles, Jan, 3i. Jack Carson, .^ho rec e nt ly ankled Warners, closed 'a stage deal calling for two '(yeeks of yaude at the Chicago theatre, starting Feb. 3. Troupe includes Janis Paige* Robeii Alda, Diana 'Garrett and Tommy Wells. Following the Chicago stand, CarsoH .goes to N. Y. T:oJ huddle with his sponsor, General Foods, about radio and TV shows. TRAFFIC LAW WOULD NIP T1 IN Alps Albany, Jan. 31. i ^ Legislation to ban television sets in automobiles is under considera- tion by the New York State Senate > under an amendment to: the traffic ' law introduced by Sen. Thomas G. Desmond. Bill would make instal- lation of a video receiving set in any motor vehicle a misdemeanor I punishable by a fine. " ■ Several, other . legislators. have i also introduced amendments to the penal law affecting obscene shows, phonograph disks and printed mat- ter. New' bills would change the offense from a misdemeanor into a felony, with penalties upped to im- prisonment of two-and-a-half to five years and fine of not more than $5,000. in Mexico City, Jan. 31. , Joselito Rodriguez, pic producer^ is telling the film trade Of his latest, “Cuando 16s Hijos Odian” . “When the Children Hate”), by distributing rolls and buns be j bakes himself. I He’s an ex-baker. RKO execs aren’t ture whether they’re glad or sorry about the unusual news coverage given.last week to a sneak preview of “Stroni- boll” at a Long Beach, GaL, the- atre, The “sneak,” which didn't prave much of a secret, resulted in a United Press story that got considerable front-page space in the New York World-Telegram and many other papers throughout the ' country. V Unfortuhater so far as RKO execs are concerned, is that considerable Opinlori on the plC—most :of it un- favorable-4-was' quoted in the stdry as having come from; the audience, the theatre manager, an RKO stu^ dio official arid a newspaperman. Since the film won’t be tradeshq\yh in the 31 exchange areas until Feb. 14, RKO is disturbed about: the premature ppinion-airihg. On the other hand, considered highly encouraging is the fact that there is ehoiigh interest in the In- grid BergmamRoberto Rossellini film to merit a story by UP on its trunk wires throughout the coun- try and the front-paging of it by so maiiy piapers. That is seen as indicating a great public curiosity about the film, and RKO sales execs have known ever since “Stromboii” was privately screened for them several weeks ago, that it is on this curiosity appeal that the film’s ultimate gross hinges. Viewed as the most damagihg statement in the Up; story was the purported quote from the unnamed studio exec; “1 thought it was one Of the finest things ever done: But it’s going to be hard to sell. It’s a 20-minute travelog of Strhmboll in an 89-minute film. When things get dull, they throw In a littlb sex* They can’t sell it as sensational, though. It’s definitely not another •Outlaw.”^ Palmer Waslin, manager of the theatre, was quoted as sayinig “There was a lot of enthusiasm when the name came on the screen, but the picture wasn’t accepted too well. There’s a lot of Italian in it.” Came lo See Western UP pointed but that the audience had come to see a western and thus wasn’t the perfect setup for this type of thing and that the “pic- ture probably would get a better: reception in big city art theatres. World-Telegram headlined the yarn; “Ingrid’s Film ‘Stromboii’ Proves Flop at Preview.” , New York Journal-Americah’s head wa.s: “Call Ingrid Sexy, ‘Stromboii’ Dull.” Daily Variety in Hollywood pub- lished ya review of the pic last Thursday (26) under the explaiia" tion that it Is not the publication’s custom to review films before a final release print Is ready and that “sneak” previews are ignored. It is departing from that custom in this case, however, the paper said, “because the making of the picture was attendant with an international scandal.. but these occurrences caused a news service to cover, a showing in Long Beach and flash nationwide the opinions of un- named executives and Oxlilbitbrs . A member of this newspaper’.s staff attended the Long Beach ‘sneak’ because of his personal in- terest. He was not assigned to re- view it . If further editing changes the film materially. Daily Variety will review it again.”, ’ The review stated that “Strony boli” “hits a peak in artistic tri umphs. Direction, acting, photogr raphy, music—all technicai credits —are of the .very highest calibre. Only seeniing failure to be con- nifected with the film as of today will be the: ohb Where it really- counts-—at the boxoffice—for the picture inakes no ; bids whatsoever toward, commercialisni ■. /From aii artistic standpoint, Ingrid Bergman gives one of her finest perform' anes . As her ; co-star, Mario Vi- tale Is limited diie to the fact that he does not understand English Remaining thesp jobs are 1 itt 1 c more than bits, tending to give realism to the film.” “When the film’s simplicity tend.'? to bog down the story/’ review con- cludes, “the camera is there to speak for. It, admirably catchini^ the picture’s better ingredients; the stirring volcano sequence, an aGtiial fishing expedition,, a gener pus amount of . sex and nym.v travelogjike shots of Strpniboli.” “Stromboii” opens late in Fehry ary at the Capitol, N. Y.