The Stage in Review

At the Capitol Theatre. A First National picture, directed by Archie Mayo, from a story by Bradford Ropes. Screenplay by Earl Baldwin. Music by Henry Warren and Al Dubin. Dances directed by Bobby Connolly.

The cast:

Al Howard Al Jolson

Dorothy Wayne Ruby Keeler

Molly Howard Glenda Farrell

Luana Bell Helen Morgan

Duke Barton MacLane

Irma Patsy Kelly

First Blonde Sharon Lynne

Bandmaster Phil Regan

Fred Gordon Westcott

Mexican Akim Yamiroff

Al Jolson, the Jewish comedian, makes a fine comeback in the films with the picture “Go Into Your Dance.” Absent from Broadway for some time, Jolson was given a tremendous reception when he appeared in person at the gala opening of the picture at the Capitol Thursday evening.

Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson’s intimate friend, was the master of ceremonies. In his inimitable Cantor manner he provided fine entertainment for the large audience when he introduced one by one all the celebrities who filled the theatre’s boxes, eager to see Al Jolson in his new production.

But the real treat for the audience came when Al Jolson himself improvised a musical program which lasted over an hour. Constantly applauded for encores, Jolson created a sensation when he sang in Yiddish the Jewish folk song, “A Cchazondl of Shabos.”

Ruby Keeler, Jolson’s wife who is starring with him in the picture, also appeared in person on the stage together with her husband. She appeared deeply touched by the rousing reception they were given. It was at the Capitol that Jolson met Ruby Keeler seven years ago, a meeting which led to their marriage.

The appearance of Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler and Eddie Cantor in person was merely a prelude to “Go Into Your Dance,” the picture in which the Jolsons appear on the screen. This picture is one of the best musical treats now to be seen on Broadway. It is richly staged, well directed and well played. Its staging is in many ways original.

Al Jolson plays the principal role of an actor who always walks out on his producers. He thus loses his chance on Broadway, though everyone knows that he is one of the best actors in the country. Glenda Farrell, who plays the role of his sister, is interested in bringing him back to the stage under any circumstances. Ruby Keeler, a friend of his sister and a dancer in a Hollywood club, undertakes to help Miss Farrell in her ambition. She begins to exercise her influence on Jolson as a partner on the dance floor and ends by falling in love with him. The result is easy to imagine.

With “Go Into Your Dance” proving a success from the very first night, it can be predicted that a new era is now opening for the Jolsons. The picture will no doubt have a long run since it provides good entertainment produced in fine taste. B. S.

Because of the premature leak in the Pulitzer Prize announcements last year, not even the Pulitzer Prize winners themselves will be notified in advance of their selections. Thus, for the first time, they will not be present at the banquet scheduled for tomorrow evening (Monday) at which the winners are to be announced.

A number of Jewish playwrights, with chances of winning the play award, will thus be kept on the anxious seat a little longer. For though a number of them publicly state that such prizes are meaningless, it is doubtful whether any of them aren’t hoping against hope that they’ll win.

The reason, of course, is that even though the selections may make little sense, they make much money for the favored. Thus Clifford Odets (“Awake and Sing,” “Waiting for Lefty” and “Till the Day I Die”), Lillian Hellman (“The Children’s Hour”), Melvin P. Levy (“Gold Eagle Guy”) and Samson Raphaelson (“Accent on Youth”), have a possible financial interest in the selections of the committee. Also interested, but not so much financially, are S. N. Behrman (“Rain from Heaven”) and George S. Kaufman (“Merrily We Roll Along”).

Last year the Pulitzer prize meant an extended run for Sidney Kingsley’s “Men in White,” and, more important, a Hollywood contract for the youthful author. This year, if Odet wins with “Awake and Sing,” it will mean an extended run and Hollywood for that talented author.

Lillian Hellman, already in Hollywood and with her play a sell-out, could probably command a salary boost if the prize comes her way. Levy, whose play has closed, would be the biggest gainer if his play, a long shot, should win. Not as prominent or as talented as the others, he would benefit most from the prize award. Raphaelson, an established Hollywood writer, would gain further prestige for himself and a longer run for his still going “Accent on Youth.”

Behrman and Kaufman are both established. The former can have a Hollywood contract whenever he wants one, being one of the most agile constructors of dialogue extant. Kaufman has been turning down Hollywood for years, while yearly turning out Broadway hits. A previous Pulitzer winner, it would mean little to him.

Of these six playwrights, Behrman by reason of his long succession of fine plays most deserves acclaim. Although an acknowledged first nighter among dramatists, he has never been accorded the respect that he warrants and that a Pulitzer Prize would guarantee him.

But whether any of those listed above will be the favored of Lady Fortune when she announces her choices this Monday remains to be seen. Some of them, most assuredly, stand a good chance— and if the Pulitzer judges pass by Maxwell Anderson’s “Valley Forge” we’ll take these six against the rest of the field on an even money bet. H. W. L.

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