Menu JTA Search

Critical Moments

Download PDF for this date

The laments of those who attempt to milk a livelihood out of Broadway were loud and constant this past week. The cold, unpleasant weather that descended upon this city, plus the opening of but two new plays, neither of which elicited any great praise from the reviewers, were the dominant factors in this woeful situation. It seemed more like the first week in August than the height of the theatrical season.

The new legitimate arrivals—”Prisoners of War” at the Ritz and “Three Men on a Horse” at the Playhouse—are not calculated to cause much cheering. The first named is doomed for a quick finish and although “Three Men on a Horse” is a lively farce it does not appear to have any real staying power.


“Three Men on a Horse” is the work of John Cecil Holm and George Abbott. It is a comedy {SPAN}###ut{/SPAN} a timid soul and his experiences in that brazen sport of horse racing. The meek fellow is a greeting-card poet who has the knack of picking winners at the track. He is an amateur tout and does not bet on his hunches. Coming in contact with a group of bettors who are down on their luck he is able to help them beat the “bookies.” The big moment comes when he picks a horse to beat the favorite. The bettors put all they have on this likely nag and sit back to listen to McNamee broadcast the race. The favorite, according to Announcer McNamee, wins and all seems lost but, after all, it is McNamee announcing, which of course means that the sport commentator had as usual made a mistake. The timid soul’s choice actually won and all is forgiven. As I intimated above Mr. Abbott, who directed the piece, is in excellent form and has made the most of the material but at best it is pretty thin stuff.


Despite weather conditions and the sobbing of the producers Broadway has not given up. Some of the plays continue to do very well. “Anything Goes,” “The Children’s Hour,” Lillian Hellman’s dramatic and stirring play; “Personal Appearance,” “The Petrified Forest” and “The Great Waltz” are sell-outs and will run on through the Spring. Of the new plays Noel {SPAN}###ward’s{/SPAN} “Point Valaine,” despite indifferent critical comments, is a hit. The same may be said for Elisabeth Bergner in “Escape Me Never.” Slated to stay but twelve weeks it is certain that it will remain longer than that. Katharine Cornell in “Romeo and Juliet” must also be listed in the hit column. Originally Miss Cornell was to stay but a month; now she announces that “Romeo” will play on until February 23. “The Barretts of Wimpole Street,” in which she starred two years ago, is due for a four-week revival beginning February 25.

The coming week will be active theatrically. “On to Fortune” at the Fulton and “Loose Moments” at the Vanderbilt will both open Monday evening. On Tuesday at the Cort “It’s You I Wanted” will have its premier. Wednesday is beau’s night, but on Thursday “The Closed Garden” will raise a curtain at a theatre not yet announced. On Friday “The Field of Ermine” comes to the National.


In reporting theatrical news for you this column has remained quiet about the Yiddish stage. I assure you my omissions were intentional because little of interest has happened in that field, however, a Yiddith play has come to {SPAN}###{/SPAN} and it should not be neglected. Its English title is “60,000 Heroes” and it was written by a young man named Benjamin Ressler. The Jewish Art Players are doing it at the Jewish Folk Theatre.

Since Maurice Schwartz deserted Second avenue for Hollywood the Yiddish legitimate has been in a bad way. It has been so difficult to get plays produced that Mr. Ressler had to go to Buenos Aires to see his production acted. Only after a successful run there was it possible to get a showing for it in New York. It is based on a fantastic idea—how the Jews try to get into the good graces of the Christians by fighting the Turks for them and thus save Christianity and incidentally Judaism from both the Christians and the worshipers of Allah. With a keen imagination and a sensitive feeling for psychology of the Jews Ressler shows how, through a series of blunders, the non-descript Jewish soldiers are able to vanquish the Turks but, alas, they do not get their reward. There is a great deal more to “60,000 Heroes” than I have outlined here and you must see it. It is well acted, capably produced and a completely absorbing spectacle.


The Paramount decided at the last moment to permit “Lives of a Bengal Lancer” to move on and in its place offer “Wings in the Air” with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant. As the title indicates the plot revolves around aviators and aviation. In writing about the cinema the other day I forgot to mention “Baboona,” the Johnsons’ picture which is at the Rialto. It is the result of another of their African hunting expeditions and is about up to par. My only objection to the film is the “mugging” of the Johnsons and especially Mrs. Johnson, who doesn’t seem to be able to keep out of camera range. At the Roxy the feature will be “Secret Bride” with Barbara Stanwyck.


Gaumont-British discovered that the title “The Unfinished Symphony” failed to appeal to the American public so they changed it to “Lover Divine.” It remains, however, but a fair sample of the cinematic art…. Maxwell Anderson will see his play “Valley Force” made into a film. I hope Columbia, which is doing the picture, will make it a lot more exciting than the play…. When the Warner Brothers made a picture out of Somerset Maughan’s novel, “The Sacred Flame,” they called it “The Right to Love.” It will play the Rivoli in a few weeks.

Joseph Greenhut enlisted as a private in the Union Army at Chicago in 1861, and rose after active service to the rank of adjutant-General on General Hecker’s staff.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund