By George Joel
Gaumont-British, England’s leading film company, recently used no fewer than twenty-four full pages of advertising in a theatrical weekly magazine to tell American showmen that they intended to invade these United States with their cinema products. The first shot in this war was “Power” which may be seen at Radio City Music Hall.
Opening their campaign in New York the British company was wise in releasing such a picture as “Power.” Certainly the Jews have many just complaints against the treatment accorded the race the world over but as far as the cinema goes they have, in this country and England, come off very handsomely. “The House of Rothschild,” one of the most widely attended and successful pictures of the year, was favorable to the Jews, and now this adaptation of Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel “Jew Suess” which may be equally well received, is certain to create some more much needed good-will.
Conrad Veidt, the German actor who defied the edict of Hitler by refusing to return to Germany, plays the role of Joseph Oppenheimer in Feuchtwanger’s epic novel of pride, oppression and vengeance in eighteenth-century Germany. You will remember the book â€”it is the powerful and moving story of Oppenheimer, a sensitive, determined man who, raised in the Ghetto, strives to reach power so that he can save the Jews from oppression. Insulted and laughed at, Oppenheimer attaches himself to the court of the weak, ambitious, sensual Karl Alexander, ruler of Wurtemberg and makes himself indispensable to this petty monarch. He finally becomes the most powerful man in the kingdom but at an unholy price. Unknowingly, he betrays his own half-sister to the lusts of Karl and indirectly causes his own daughter’s death. But before he is marched to the scaffold and hung in one of the most dramatic scenes ever caught by a camera, he has his revenge and is able to save some of the Jews of Wurtemberg.
Ironically enough Oppenheimer, who has all his life fought for the rights of a Jew, finds that he himself is only half-Jewish and although were this knowledge to be made public his own life could be saved, he goes to death screaming the Hebrew of his mother.
Produced by Lothar Mendes on a lavish scale the atmosphere of a German principality is caught with striking realism. The scenes in which the Gentiles jeer and harass a poor Jewish peddler are cleverly pictured. The supporting cast, especially Frank Vosper as King Karl; Cedric Hardwicke as the rabbi; Paul Graetz as Landauer, the Jew; Pamela Ostrer as Naomi, Oppenheimer’s daughter, and Benita Hume as Marie Auguste, play in an usually brilliant manner but it is Conrad Veidt in a difficult role which calls for great acting talent who really makes “Power” a picture far above ordinary.
‘SPRING FRESHET’ AND VOODOOISM
Owen Davis’ new play” Spring Freshet,” which opened at the Plymouth Theatre last week may be dismissed in a very few lines, Mr. Davis has written some very fine plays but this story of life in a small Maine village fails to come off. It is, to be brief, just dull.
Another play that will receive little attention from the public is “Wane With Your Gods” by Kenneth Perkins which is at the Mansfield. This two-act melodrama deals with the subject of voodooism and the seduction of a Creole girl. The audience never does understand what the author is trying to do. Mr. Laurence Schwab, who produces very fine musical comedies, produced this piece and I am afraid the venture will add nothing to his stature.