“Shooting Star”, now running at the Selwyn Theatre, is not a play; it is a starring vehicleâ€”for Francine Larrimore, who occupies the center of the stage for the too greater part of a long theatre evening under a metaphorical, if not literal, blinding light which the playwrightsâ€”Noel Pierce and Bernard C. Schoenfeldâ€”seem loath to have her share with other performers. And when Julie Leanderâ€”the part performed by Miss Larrimoreâ€” is not herself on the stage, then she is none the less the chief concern of every man and woman on the stage. When they speak, they speak of her, and when they don’t speak of her, you can sense what heroic restraint the playwrights are imposing upon them during those occasional moments of silence. More than amends have been made Miss Larrimore for that previous starring vehicle, “Brief Moment”, in which that naughty applause-stealer, Alexander Woollcott, was intruded in the scenery.
Having written which, it is only fair to add that a play about a star of the theatre is apt to fall into the error of becoming a starring vehicle. “Shooting Star” is obviously inspiredâ€”if that’s the wordâ€”by the career of the star of “Rain”, Jeanne Eagels. Putting aside for a moment one’s hostility to a one-actor play, one must confess that Miss Larrimore does magnificent things with her fat role. She could slop over, and doesn’t. She takes a lot of punishment for her almost exclusive occupancy of the stage. The play is emotional enough for furtive tear-wiping, but not for bawlingâ€”which is all to the good. The playgoer should make an effort to differentiate between natural irritation against the over-emotional damn fool whose life and personality are portrayed and the really admirable way in which Miss Larrimore portrays a role the original of which, in private life, we would flee from as from a plague. Good work, Miss Larrimore! Still we should have preferred a play. H. S.
On the R-K-O lot, five leading writers have been placed on important assignmentsâ€”H. H. Haneman, former editor of “College Humor”; Robert Gore-Brown, author of “Cynara”; Tiffany Thayer, author of “Call Her Savage”; Albert Shelby LeVino and Gertrude Purcell. Among the stories these authors will prepare are “Long Lost Father”, from the novel by G. B. Stern, and “Green Mansions”, by W. H. Hudson.
From Mero-Goldwyn-Mayer we learn that the “Late Christopher Bean” will be a co-starring vehicle for Marie Dressler and Lionel Barrymore, under the direction of Sam Wood, and that Helen Hayes will commence work as the star in Edith Wharton’s “The Old Maid”, as soon as she completes her final scenes in “Another Language”.
Alice Brady has signed a long-term contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and will make Hollywood her residence.
“Chrysalis” is being adopted for Paramount by Thomas Mitchell, Keene Thompson and Sidney Buchman. The play will feature Meriam Hopkins, Fredric March and George Raft.
And a letter written by a fan in London, reached Lionel Barrymore at the studio. The envelope was addressed: “Rasputin, U. S. A.”
“Victims of Persecution”, now at the R-K-O Cameo Theatre, traces the life of an outstanding American Jewish leader who is subjected to racial discrimination because he dares to defend the rights of a Negro. It shows how hatred grows in darkness, and how persecution of one race may easily lead to another. Judge Margolies (the leading character in “Victims of Persecution”) might easily have become another Mendel Beiliss, Captain Dreyfuss, or Walter Rathenau, had he not been living in America. This picture is a Bud Pollard production, with English dialogue, featuring Mitchell Harris, Betty Hamilton and Juda Bleich.