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Critical Moments

This weekend sermon will probably sound more garbled than usual—what’s more it is second hand stuff. You see, since Monday your reporter has been tucked away with a mild and rather uninteresting case of the flu. Whatever information theatrical you find herein has arrived at his bed-side through indirect routes, to be exact, from a close perusal of the daily prints plus a few things I know myself.

Up to Friday morning seven new plays opened on Broadway. They were “Page Miss Glory” (Mansfield,) “Africana” (Venice), “But Not For Love” (Empire), “Gold Eagle Guy” (Morosco), “Revenge With Music” (New Amsterdam), “The Lord Bless the Bishop” (Adelphi), and “The Night Remembers” (Playhouse).

According to the boys and girls who never miss a thing, having been forced to stay abed was not entirely a punishment, in fact, about a few shows the wish was expressed that bed actually was preferable. However, I am sorry I had to Miss “Gold Eagle Guy.” Not only because the long-mustached sad-faced Melvin Levy wrote it, but also because the Group Theatre who did “Men in White” sponsored it and because I knew something about the play.

CRITICS HAIL PLAY

It was, in script, a robust, lively, fast-paced melodrama about an ambitious sailor who, coming to San Francisco about 1862, determined to make his way to the top of the shipping industry. A ruthless man, he allowed nothing to deter him and he reached the pinnacle, even though he sacrificed the lives and careers of many men. How he got what was coming to him makes “Gold Eagle Guy” a lesson in retribution.

The critics, with few unimportant exceptions, hailed Levy’s play, Bromberg’s acting and the Group’s work with fine words.

Another thing I should have liked to have witnessed was the return of Libby Holman. Selwyn and Franklin fashioned a Spanish setting for the wealthy widow and reports state that she has lost none of the charm and appeal of her low-pitched, mellow voice.

The third miss of the week seems to be “Page Miss Glory.” This is Lawrence Schwab’s production. It was written by Joseph Schrank and Philip Dunning and staged by George Abbott. From what I can gather it is written in the “She Loves Me Not” tradition, only not quite so funny. The plot deals with two confidence men who make a composite photograph of a girl which wins a beauty prize. They are then confronted with the problem of producing the girl, which I understand they do after much merriment.

So much for the really good news. In between the praise and blame, however, a murder-mystery-horror play by Martha Madison called “The Night Remembers,” must be mentioned. It is very good in some spots, fairly exciting in others but rather slow in too many of the remaining moments.

HARLEM IN LOIN CLOTH

One of the seven plays discussed herein “Africana,” described as an operetta of life in the Congo, earned the most unanimous scorching. It is in two acts and sixteen scenes and concerns itself with the return to the Congo of an educated Negro. There is a large cast, dancing, changing, singing and wiggling. I suspect it is Harlem in loin cloth and tom-toms.

Not far behind “Africana” comes Thatcher Hughes latest, “The Lord Bless the Bishop.” The author a former Pulitzer Prize winner, was expected to do great things, but the present effort, from all reports, is feeble and unimportant. It is a light comedy concerning an artist, his wife and her wealthy father, a Bishop and very much in the way. Little of moment happens.

To make the list complete I must re-report that “But Not For Love” is life among small-time bankers in a small town out West. There is some problem about whether or not the couple involved can afford a baby. I am told that hardly anyone in the audience cared and many left before they found out. . .

CINEMA

Douglas Fairbanks returns to the Broadway screen Wednesday morning when his new picture, “The Private Life of Don Juan,” will be shown at the Rivoli.

This picture, his first in two years, offers the star in one of his typically swashbuckling, dare-devil roles and is full of swordplay and the famous Fairbanks stunts. It was produced by London Films and directed by Alexander Korda. The screen play is by Frederick Lonsdale and Jajos Biro. It is a United Artists release.

Gaumont-British will start off the new year 1935 with four openings. The first of these, “Ever green,” musical drama starring Jessie Matthews, will have its premiere at the Radio City Music Hall on January 3. Also scheduled for a New York premiere at the Music Hall, later in January is “The Iron Duke,” a dramatic version of the life of the Duke of Wellington, with George Arliss starring as the man who dictated peace policies and war treaties with an “iron hand.” The London opening of “The Iron Duke,” at the Tivoli on November 30, has aroused so much interest that the Prince of Wales already has signified his intention of being present. Prominent in the cast with Mr. Arliss are Ellaline Terriss, Gladys Cooper, A. E. Matthews, Allan Aynes-worth and Emlyn Williams.

“The Unfinished Symphony,” a dramatic version of the life of Franz Schubert, goes into the Roxy early in January. Marta Eggerth, Hans Jaray and Helen Chandler head the cast, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the chorus of the State Opera of Vienna and the Gypsy Band Gyula Howath providing the musical background. Later in January the Roxy will house “Jack Ahoy,” nautical comedy with music, starring Jack Hulbert. “Jack Ahoy” will have a $10-per seat preview at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Monday, December 3.

Followers of the cinema will have an opportunity to see an exceptional program December 2 (Sunday) at the New School for Social Research. The Artists’ Film Group will present the following films: Eisenstein’s “Death Day,” consisting of deleted portions of “Thunder Over Mexico,” Pudovkin’s “Life Is Beautiful,” Deslau’s “Montparnasse” and Charles Chapplin in “The Adventurer.” There will be a continuous performance from 2 P.M. to 11:30 P.M.

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