Critical Moments

It is with a feeling akin to shame that I realize that I have failed to report on “The Old Fashioned Way,” the new W. C. Fields’ picture which is playing at the Paramount. As you probably do not know a new film is brought into the Paramount each Friday which ordinarily wouldn’t leave you much time to go over and see the funniest picture of the season, I have a suspicion that the management will hold the film for another week at least.

As an old devotee of vaudeville I have been an admirer of W. C. Fields since boyhood. To me he was always one of the drollest of the stage’s funny men. His entrance into pictures was a boom as far I was concerned and his increasing popularity with picture fans is a confirmation of truism— Fields is a comedian that never fails to amuse.

In “The Old Fashioned Way” Paramount, who made the picture, have given Fields a vehicle that by itself would be very ordinary. It is the story of a troupe of “ham” actors whose rendition of such a tear jerker as “The Drunkard” was greeted by yokel audiences with a minimum of politeness. Fields plays the role of McGonigle, the pompous, boisterous leader of the troupe whose loud clothes and manners endear him to nobody. There is little plot or continuity to the film, simply a loosely constructed story in which Fields is permitted to exercise his talents as a comedian. He has many scenes, all of which are funny. Even his old gags, and I mean old, still retain some entertainment value. His bit with Baby Le Roy, one of the screen’s more natural child actors, wherein, after being pestered to distraction by the cuteness of the youngster, he has his revenge when the child’s mother leaves the room, will delight all who have had playful children inflicted upon them. Mr. Fields also does a scene in which he is forced to listen to an aspiring female vocalist perform. His silence while he fidgets, is the most eloquent I have seen on a screen.

“The Old Fashioned Way” is entertainment of a high quality and if the antics of W. C. Fields do not keep you in a constant state of high laughter I suggest that you visit your physician and have your liver examined.

WHOM THE GODS DESTROY

The attraction at Radio City Music Hall this week is called “Whom the Gods Destroy.” It is as serious as it sounds and incident-dentally a superior sort of a film. The story concerns John Forrester (Walter Connolly), an eminent theatrical producer, and what happens when he rescues himself from a shipwreck. It is thought that he has been drowned and he has been acclaimed as a hero but in reality he saves his own life by donning a woman’s coat and getting in a life boat. He returns home to New York quietly but realizes that if he makes himself known he will expose his own cowardice and bring shame to his wife and son. He, therefore, takes up a new life but through the years watches his family progress. Later he makes contact with his son who is trying to keep the Forrester name alive in the theatre and secretly helps the boy.

As you can guess a theme of this sort has in it great dramatic possibilities and it may be reported that the cast headed by Walter Connolly acquit themselves with distinction. “Whom the Gods Destroy” is strong cinema fare and thoroughly worth your serious consideration.

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