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Critical Moments

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“Midnight Alibi” and “Strictly Dynamite,” two current pictures of the light entertainment variety are among the crop of cinema fare that is now available for all lovers of air-cooled auditoriums and it may be safely said that the pleasant atmosphere is only part of the enjoyment because both of these Hollywood products are a little above average.

“Midnight Alibi” at the Strand is a First National production and Richard Bathelmess is the star. Although Mr. Bathelmess is a comparatively young man, his extensive career on the screen in both silent and sound pictures makes most of us think of him as an old time player. I have seen him in more pictures than I can remember but I do not recall ever having seen him in anything like the present vehicle.

Barthelmess was invariably cast as a very serious young man to whom the problems of life were more than passing personal reactions. In “Midnight Alibi” he has been given a light role, that of a polite gangster who while on a ship falls in love with a lovely girl (Ann Dvorak).

It soon transpires that this girl is the sister of a rival gangster Angie who has “muscled” Dance (Barthelmess) out of a racket. In fact, the rival gang tries to machine-gun Lance who escapes into the home of a wealthy, socially elite spinster named Abigail (Helen Chandler). For film purposes she becomes interested in Lance’s career and he in turn confesses his love for Joan. Abigail advises him to meet the situation bravely. While they are talking, Angie is killed and later Lance is accused of the murder. Only the fact that Abigail comes to court and substantiates Lance’s alibi saves the lad from conviction and, of course, he returns to Joan in time for a final love scene.

The plot is improbable and incredible but Barthelmess, in this light role, plays with great animation and charm. He is ably aided by Ann Dvorak, Helen Chandler and others. The screen play is an adaptation of Damon Runyon’s grand short story “The Old Doll’s House.” It is bright and lively.


The thoroughly amusing Jimmy Durante and the energetic Lupe Velez are, when thrown together in a picture or show, certain to produce entertainment of a high order. In “Strictly Dynamite” which RKO presented at the Rialto this team scores again. It is true that they have been in funnier pictures but the present one will do until another comes along.

“Strictly Dynamite” is another Hollywood jab at the radio, not a very clever jab but with some sting. Durante plays the part of a radio star whose passion is the use of long words and poetry. Being a radio star he is bothered by all sorts of admirers including the ladies, naturally this leads to complications that involve everybody in the picture and end only when the radio star has sent Lupe Velez, the most bothersome of the lady admirers, packing.

As long as Durante is before you the picture is amusing. In its serious moments it is ridiculous but fortunately Durante is around most of the time.

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