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Critical Moments

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The past week kept diligent and conscientious first-nighters out of breath running from opening to opening but it does seem as though theatrical life will move at a slower pace until after the holidays. Business at the box-office has been gratifying and it is the fervent hope of producers that the bountiful days and nights last. If things continue, actors’ children will again believe in Santa Claus.

Last night not very much of note happened on Broadway. There were no new plays on schedule and if it weren’t for Eva Le Gallienne and her Civic Repertory Company and the Abbey Irish Theatre Players, there would have been nothing to write about. Miss Le Gallienne and her troupe gave “Hedda Gabler” as the second offering in their series and the Abbey Players did “Juno and the Paycock.” “Hedda Gabler” will be played through Wednesday night, and for the remainder of the week the play will be “L’Aiglon,” but this time without Ethel Barrymore. The Abbey Players will conclude their New York visit this week.


Saturday night, Larry O’Connor’s “A Roman Servant” was offered at the Longacre Theatre and accepted with some reluctance by a wide-awake audience. It is the story of a very noble and deceived husband who knows that he has been deceived; in fact, this nearly perfect fellow not only cures his wife’s lover of amnesia, but saves the gentleman from the habit of taking dope, As you expect, he gets nothing for his pains except seeing his wife, faced with the problem of making a choice, picking her lover. The good husband ends his trouble by a nice clean suicide. Despite a plot that has the germs of melodrama and exciting action, Mr. O’Connor’s play is lumpish, a trifle dull and heavy-handed. The dialogue is sodden and the acting somewhat indifferent.


“Broadway Bill,” at the Music Hall, and “The Captain Hates the Sea,” at the Rialto, are the two outstanding cinema dishes of the week. Neither is entirely filling, yet both contain some nourishment. “Broadway Bill” is based on a typical, shallow Mark Hellinger story. It has to do with a young married man who decides that horse racing is more exciting than life with his wife and her father. Our hero, played by Warner Baxter, owns a race horse and with this animal he expects to win fame and fortune. Naturally he succeeds, but not before despair has been his most constant friend. The love interest is supplied by his sister-in-law (Myrna Loy), who not only encourages our hero but aids him with money. She gets her reward in the form of Warner’s love. Frank Capra is responsible for the production and his work lifts the film out of the groove usually reserved for pictures of this type.

“The Captain Hates the Sea” is, after close examination, the old Grand Hotel idea aboard ship. A group of people meet for the first time aboard a ship making a Central American cruise. Before the ship docks you are given a pretty thorough idea of what these folk are like. To bind the film together there is a thin strand of plot having to do with a theft. Surprisingly enough, the film follows the loosely knit plot of Wallace Smith’s book of the same title and the dialogue supplied by Mr. Smith is bright and amusing. The main fault of the film is that it rambles. The characters are aimless and you never get the feeling that the whole thing is anything but a passing fancy of the actors and director.


Helen Deutsch, press representative of “Gold Eagle Guy,” sends the following letter, which is self-explanatory:

“It seems to me that you added rather a gratuitous slap at The Group Theatre and a hindrance to the success of the Jewish Braille Institute theatre party when you added, for no reason at all, to your announcement of the “old Eagle Guy” theatre party that it would take place “unless the attraction should close before then.” The play has received excellent notices, and thus far is doing better business than “Men in White” did in its first week.”

As a matter of fact, Miss Deutsch is justified in her complaint. “Gold Eagle Guy” is a grand, exciting play, one of the season’s treats, and the box-office will assure you that if business gets much better they will have to put in more seats. By the way, I was not personally responsible for the remark, having remained packed in bed-clothes all last week.

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