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Critical Moments

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Broadway has become, this week at least, social-minded. Today at the Rivoli Theatre, Edwin Carewe aided and abetted by many religious, social, fraternal and liberal organizations, will present a Raspin Production entitled “Are We Civilized?” while a few blocks south, at the Rialto, a Mentone Production by Emil Lengyel, called “The World in Revolt,” is finishing the first lap of what the theatre’s managers hope will be a long run Both these pictures are serious and sincere attempts to present to thinking cinema fans some idea of the unrest sweeping all countries.

Of the two films, “Are We Civilized” is the more propagandistic. Its theme is that mankind, having used its collective brains to erect a civilization in which everyone may be free from economic worries, today is following a path that will lead to eventual annihilation of the human race. Race hatred, religious and racial bigotry and greed are the three enemies of mankind and instead of eliminating these factors, nations at present are making a fetish of each, the film sets forth.

“Are We Civilized?” has as its object the awakening of us all to these dangers. This film obviously voices a plea for tolerance, understanding and human kindness. The sincerity of the producer is patently genuine and the film sets forth in indelible scenes a picturization of “The Golden Rule.”

The plot is simple and straightforward, dealing with the manager of an international news agency who revisits his native land after it has adopted a new form of government. Formerly a free and enlightened country it has become another Germany under Hitler. The owner of the news agency (William Farnum) is disgusted with what has happened and at a dinner in his honor protests censorship, race hatred and the stifling of individual freedom. His hearers are outraged and he is asked to leave the country immediately. His son who is engaged to marry the daughter of the chief of the censorship bureau of the nation, stands by his father and is beaten by a mob for hi loyalty.

The dramatic episodes occur when the father, who is visiting at his son’s home, enters to find soldiers destroying his son’s book. He protests to the minister of propaganda and in his presence recounts a history of mankind to show that hate breeds hate, violence brings more violence and that only through human understanding can men live with one another. The minister will have none of this talk and leaves. A few moments later the father goes out into the streets to appeal to the crowd watching the burning of the books, and he is answered by being struck by one of the volumes.

This blow aggravates an old war wound and he dies, but not before he has convinced the minister that freedom and truth will persevere.


In proving this obvious truth the producers have performed an admirable service. By using old news reel clips and shots from silent pictures they have pieced together a sketchy history of mankind from Biblical times to the present. Unlike the hash swept together for “The Hitler Terror,” “Are We Civilized?” is well cast and dialogued, thoughtfully directed and put together with skill and intelligence. It is sentimental and idealistic but its simplicity should appeal to all classes. Its lack of bitterness, its restraint and freedom from epithets should make it palatable to all tastes. “Are We Civilized?” has dignity and strength and is well worthwhile.


In “The World In Revolt” the producers have confined themselves to news reels, but here little attempt was made to coordinate the material into a film with continuity. Graham McNamee supplies the comment for this film, which in snatches gives the audience an idea of the unrest in the world today.

Germany, China, Cuba, Italy, Austria, Ireland, France, India and Russia are the countries racked with internal strife and each is seen through the eyes of the cameraman as it struggles through its difficulties. The most interesting portions of the film concern Russia. In this section is shown the fall of the Czar, the Kerensky and Lenin regimes and much about Russia today under the five-year-plan. Much of the material will be familiar to steady patrons of the cinema but there is a great deal which should prove interesting. It is not as outspoken as “Are We Civilized?” but it says a great deal by merely reproducing things as they are. The only lush note in the film is an epilogue which presents America as having escaped to a large extent the unrest that is disturbing the world and which shows our country out of the depression and well on the road to recovery.

Mid-western papers, please copy!

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