DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, an adaptation of the play by Alberto Cassella; directed by Mitchell Leisen; a Paramount production. At the Times Square and Brooklyn Paramount Theatres.
Death in the person of the good-looking, suave Fredric March, all dressed up in a glittering uniform which shows off his manly figure to advantage, returns to earth for a three-day holiday. That in substance is the idea behind “Death Takes a Holiday,” the picture now playing its second week at the New York and Brooklyn Paramount Theatres.
A year or so ago a play bearing the same title was current on Broadway. It was the work of an Italian named Alberto Cassella. The present picture was adapted for the screen by Maxwell Anderson and the result is one of the best screen attractions seen around these parts since “The Three Little Pigs.”
Fredric March, as we said above, plays the part of Death or Prince Sirki, as he wishes to be known in his earthly sojourn. He wanders into the palatial palace of Duke Lambert in Spain and is welcomed warmly by the assembled guests. Only the Duke knows that the Prince is death and sure enough the ladies around the palace show more than a casual interest in the Prince, in fact he, himself, goes for a blonde (Evelyn Venable) in what might slangily be called, a big way. This of course complicates matters no end but life is life and death is final and the inevitable happens.
The cinema has a fine chance to spread itself with a theme of this kind and they have taken full advantage of the possibilities. The lines are clever, the cast knows what it is about and the camera work is interesting.
With Death on a holiday nothing can die; flowers rebloom, a man jumps from a high building and walks away unharmed, a school burns with no casualties. Life goes on with an unprecedented cheerfulness.
Despite the constant presence of Death, the picture has many bright moments. Mr. March brings to his role a fine understanding. Miss Venable in a difficult part performs with skill. Helen Westley as a Duchess lends an air of reality and Gail Patrick as one of the ladies who makes her bid for the Prince’s attention is convincing.
“Death Takes a Holiday” is superior cinema fare. It was a fine play and it is now a picture worthy of your attention.