The other night at the Cameo Theatre on West 42nd street Amkino presented the latest of its productions made in Soviet Russia. It is a picture called “Broken Shoes” and deals exhaustively with the part children can play in a revolutionary movement.
The plot is rather a simple one and concerns a group of children, ranging in age from one to thirteen years, whose abject poverty is the direct result of the exploitation of workers by the capitalists. A strike is in progress and the chief victims are these children. They are underfed, badly clothed, and forced to look for sustenance in garbage heaps. In the schoolroom they decide to help the strikers and after a fight in which the students wearing swastikas are vanquished the children organize to aid actively the cause. The climax finally arrives when the children join a parade of strikers. The police attack and one of the most pathetic of these children is killed in the fight, but in the end the spirit of the workers prevails.
PUT ON THICKLY
As entertainment “Broken Shoes” is far removed from the fare handed to American audiences. It reeks with propaganda and in the desire to get across “the message” every element of good drama and art has been sacrificed. Horror is piled on so thickly that an American audience simply will dismiss the whole thing as pure fabrication. Had some attempt been made to temper the scenes and situations the picture would have been much more successful from every conceivable angle.
CHILDREN ACT WELL
There are but four adults who play roles of any importance. The rest of the cast is made up of children and I have never seen such fine acting. These youngsters, I have been told, are pupils of Barskaya’s, who directed the picture, and if any of the Hollywood boys see these kids in action there will be a determined effort to bring some of them to this country. Sensitive, unconcerned, talented, these young actors and actresses play their roles in a natural and believable manner. They are a joy to anyone interested in the stage or screen.
“Broken Shoes” is too long, often tedious, sometimes improbable and too intense, but it is nevertheless very much worthwhile. You simply cannot miss this chance to see children act as children should.
The photography is competent and striking. The musical accompaniment was done by D. S. Block and V. J. Shebalin. There are English titles by Alexander Bakshy.
NOTES FROM THE THEATRE
The Borough Park Y. M. & Y. W. H. A. won first prize for its presentation of David Pinski’s one act play, “Laid Off,” in the intermediate group contest held at the Y. W. H. A. headquarters, for the best acting displayed by an amateur company. Among the other competitors for the prize were the Jamaica Jewish Center, Bronx House and the Institutional Synagogue…. Looks as though “The Shatter’d Lamp” will have a good run, the various Jewish organizations are applying for “benefit” rates…. The concert in honor of Professor Albert Einstein will be held at Carnegie Hall on Sunday evening.