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Critical Moments

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The delightfully unconscious Gracie Allen and the harassed but patient George Burns again team up for Paramount Pictures and the result is a mad, diverting, entirely amusing film called “Many Happy Returns.” The first few pictures which this famous vaudeville and radio pair made were second-rate but at last they have arrived with a vehicle that gives them the necessary latitude in which to give full vent to their antics.

The plot of “Many Happy Returns” is very thin indeed, nevertheless the film manages to hold your attention. It tells a completely goofy story about Gracie Allen whose father is the owner of a department store. While he is away Gracie takes over the management of the store and upon his return he finds workmen tearing down the edifice to make room for a bird sanctuary. He stops them just in time and realizes that he must get rid of Gracie. He calls in a psychiatrist who discovers that Gracie has a yearning for George Burns, a radio announcer in the store’s station. He tells George that if he will marry Gracie and take her on a honeymoon he will pay him $10.00 for every mile they travel. George accepts reluctantly and the couple start off to Hollywood. In the meantime Gracie’s sister and a tenor have won a moving picture contest and are on their way to the studio when her father has them kidnapped. Gracie and George are substituted and the most hilarious portions of the film concern their actions in the studio where Gracie’s questions just about disrupt the company. There is a climax when Gracie puts her father’s pet kidnapper to rout and the picture ends with Gracie and George off to China, George having demanded and gotten a higher rate per mile for his work in keeping Gracie away.


Guy Lombardo and his band have been interpolated into the picture and supply the musical background. In addition there is some extraneous entertainment of a musical nature which adds to the general gaiety and enjoyment of the film.


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s production, “Men In White,” based on the play of that name by Sidney Kingsley, should not cause any undue worry to members of the cast who are now doing the play nightly on the stage of the Broad-hurst Theatre. The picture is decidedly inferior.

In making the picture the producers and directors were evidently afraid that were they to transcribe to the screen this quiet, poignant drama which idealizes the medical profession, it would be lost on the great cinema audience. With a cast led by Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Jean Hers-holt, you might imagine that the result would be first-rate picture fare, especially since the original version was an admitted hit. Yet the picture turns out to be an overacted, over-dramatic, version of a clean, brave play. Where the playwright uses a whisper the film screeches; where the playwright chides gently, the picture nags like a shrew. In the play the acting was attuned to the thesis; in the picture everything is secondary to the acting. Mr. Gable may be an amusing fellow but the part of Dr. Ferguson is not exactly a comedy role and in the picture Mr. Gable seemed very unhappy. The rest of the cast was in no way distinguished although Myrna Loy as the sweetheart of Dr. Ferguson seemed to have understood what Mr. Kingsley was trying to say. Mr. Clark Gable as Mr. Clark Gable was as usual Mr. Clark Gable.

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