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Critical Moments

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Now that the first six months of the 1934 picture season are over it is but fitting that a backward glance be given to those films that seemed outstanding to a fellow who spent many, many hours in the darkened recesses of Broadway’s cinema palaces. A compilation of this kind invariably leads to violent dissension and disagreement but the temptation is too great. Here are my choices—and I liked them in the order named:

“The House of Rothschild,” in which George Arliss proved that the screen can be a satisfying medium for a real actor in which Jewry was given a helping hand; “Catherine the Great,” a truly believable historical drama, making solid the fame of Elizabeth Bergner, the Jewish continental actress; “Viva Villa,” a robust, fictional account of one of the greatest rogues in modern history, really the best “western” to come from the Coast and demonstrating that given the proper role Wallace Beery can act; “Ten Million Sweethearts,” a light musical picture, a satire on the radio through which it may be concluded that light entertainment need not be fatuous and silly; “Twentieth Century,” the proof that John Barry-more can play character parts in a restrained manner and that a good play can also be a believable picture; “Your’re Telling Me,” a conclusive argument that W. C. Fields is the screen’s outstanding comedian and that he can be amusing for more than 200 feet of film; “As the Earth Turns,” a folksy, honest and simple story pointing out that sometimes a “clean” picture can also be entertaining; and “Little Miss Marker,” a delightful yarn about gamblers, starring the child star, Shirley Temple.

Among the players that I thought deserved applause, regardless of the pictures they made, I must name Leslie Howard, Ann Harding, Edward Robinson and Paul Muni.


Commencing tonight, Sidney Kingsley’s pot of gold, “Men in White,” the play that won the Pulitzer Prize and the gratitude of all practicing physicians, will play its last week after a run of eight solid months, during which time more than $350,000 was paid through the box-office window of the Broadhurst Theater. The first successful venture of the young producers, Harmon and Ullman, it was also the first work of the author. At this writing the producers have not definitely decided upon a road company, as many stock and amateur groups have already given the piece, but in London, where an English company is performing, the play seems to have slipped into the hit column.

Sidney Kingsley’s success has done things to all the boys on Broadway who have been waiting years for the “big break.” It has given them a renewed hope.


Rumors to the contrary, “As Thousands Cheer,” the musical hit of the season, will continue on through the summer. When Clifton Webb announced that he was tired and in need of a vacation. Sam Harris, the producer of the production, decided to close up for a month, but business has been brisk and it has been decided to keep going. Marilyn Miller is also out of the show, but her place has been taken by Dorothy Stone. Mr. Webb will not be replaced by any one actor, but various members of the cast will do his numbers.

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