Critical Moments

The flood of new theatrical productions which was ushered in with the turning of the leaves, is gradually subsiding. Starting about the middle of last month the new additions came on in a profusion that was almost embarrassing to those whose business it is to keep up with the tide but now, and happily, Broadway seems to have struck a steady level. This past week the new additions were three in number, “Lost Horizons,” “Personal Appearance” and “Hippers Holiday.” For this coming week “Within the Gates” and “Conversation Piece,” “Goodbye, Please,” and “Between Two Worlds,” are on the definite schedule.

“Personal Appearance” is a welcome addition to the comedy lists and even though it has as its main cog the kidding of Hollywood and the movie industry, it manages to be unusually amusing and clever, although I may be slightly prejudiced because of the appearance of Gladys George in the leading role, an actress whose sense of satire and burlesque always tickles me.

As its title indicates, “Personal Appearance” is concerned with that phase of cinema exploitation. Miss George as a movie star is on a personal appearance tour. She is motoring through the countryside on her way to a Pennsylvania city when her car breaks down. She is delightfully profane about it until her eyes light upon a very handsome gas-filling station attendant. She forgets her temperament and decides that this young man shall be her own. How she does not succeed in her carnal quest takes two acts in the telling, but it never for a moment becomes tiresome.

Kidding the movies became a fashionable and profitable pastime for playwrights a few years ago, but an over-abundance of this sort of thing tended to satiate the market; however, this new play by Lawrence Riley at the Henry Miller Theatre is bright, fresh and timely despite the hackneyed theme behind it.

About “Hipper Holiday,” which opened at the Maxine Elliott Thursday night, I must remain silent and report that it is a comedy by John Crump which I have not as yet seen. However, I should like to blow one more toot for “Lost Horizons,” at the St. James. There seems to be a diversity of opinion about its worth. Some of the reviewers say that it is verbose, diffuse and even confused. They also object to the spectacle of a spectre returning to earth after having committed suicide. Jane Wyatt who plays the living and dead young woman was, to me, very real and believable. Certainly a playwright can turn the wheels backward and show you what might have been! Kaufman and Hart in “Merrily We Roll Along” were highly praised for a somewhat similar trick. “Lost Horizons” is a much more excitting and honest play than “Merrilly.” It does not fall back on undefinable questions of aesthetics but deals with understandable emotions that are really vital to all of us.

NOTES OF THE STAGE

“Stevedore,” which took a Summer vacation and reopened a few weeks ago at the Civic Repertory Theatre, announces that it will continue for but two more weeks. If you have not seen this great play about the Negroes, now is your chance….

Despite its good notices, “Divided By Three,” the play by Mrs. Pulitzer and Mrs. Kaufman is not doing any land office business, but “Continental Varieties,” which started off slowly, seems to have caught on. The top price is $4.40, but that includes a glass of punch served during intermision….

There are still some of last Spring’s plays around and doing business. “Sailor Beware,” “Tobacco Road,” “Dodsworth,” and “The Drunkard.” This is the first time in years that as many as four productions were able to do a double season…..

THE CINEMA

George Arliss’s new picture “The Last Gentleman” at the Rivoli is a distinct disappointment. Not that it isn’t a better than average film, but simply because we all remember the great English actor in “The House of Rothschild.” Compared to that screen epic, “The Last Gentleman” is rather thin stuff. As you would imagine, this new Arliss venture is a film about what is meant to be a gentleman of the old school. Outwardly he is a gruff, unapproachable fellow, but you are given to believe that inwardly he is a grand old gent, doing good deeds, the likes of which would bring envy to the heart of a boy scout. There is not much plot in evidence except a surprise ending which all reviewers are pledged to keep a fairly dark secret. Most of the picture shows Arliss going about insulting the other players in the film and making everyone very uncomfortable.

The new Gaumont-British production is called “Man of Aran” and is being shown twice daily at the Criterion. It is one of those “saga” things and beautifully photographed. Robert Flaherty, the director took a camera to the Aran Islands, three bits of land which lie off the west coast of Ireland. These islands, inhabitated by about 3,000 people, are isolated. The natives live in a primitive state of society and are unaware of the outside world. Mr. Flaherty used some of these natives for his cast. The result is an extraordinary film which purports to tell how these islanders struggle against nature for a livelihood.

WHAT CAN BE SEEN ON THE SCREEN

The Radio Music Hall offers “The Age of Innocence,” with Irene Dunne and John Boles. It is described as a romance of New York in the ‘eighties. “Little Friend” with Nova Pilbeam is the English feature at the Roxy. “Now and Forever” holds over at the Paramount and “Happiness Ahead” at the Strand. “The Barrets of Wimpole Street” at the Capitol will also play a repeat engagement. “Miracles,” a Soviet-made film is the feature at the Cameo this week. Vladimir Gardin plays the leading role.

EINSTEIN LAUDS FILM

Professor Albert Einstein, after attending a performance of “Power,” wrote Mark Ostrer, chairman of the board of Gaumont-British, producers of the picture, praising its “good taste.”

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