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Critical Moments

October 25, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Gaumont-British, the producing company which has been making an intense and serious attempt to crash the American picture market this chilly Autumn, has thus far proven a major contender for box-office honors. “Power,” “Chu Chin Chow,” “Man of Aran” and “Little Friend” were all films above average and each found favor with American audiences. However, the most recent of the GB importations, “Loyalties,” which opened at the Mayfair Theatre yesterday, is definitely below par.

“Loyalties,” as it is presented on the screen, is a rather faithful picturization of John Galsworthy’s play so successfully played both here and in England about ten years ago. Basil Dean, who produced the play, also produced the picture, and that, I believe, was a mistake. Not that Dean is not a competent producer, but a play and a motion picture are not the same thing, and when a director does little more than screen a transcript of a play the result lacks the full dimensions expected of a film.

As a picture “Loyalties” suffers from this defect. It seems crammed, unexpanded, needlessly confined to a small canvas.

The action opens at a house party at Newmarket, England, during the horse races, where the smouldering animus of Captain Dancy, impoverished army officer, against De Levis, a wealthy Jew and social climber, is aroused by the latter’s accusation against Dancy, who, he charges, has stolen from him a large sum of money. Loyalty to class and race is seen in the die-hard support accorded Dancy by his society friends. A crisis is reached when the Jew, with superb dignity, supplies what was then considered a crushing retort to the insult thrown at his race.

As I remember it, it was some remark about the Jews having been a civilized, cultured race when the gentiles were still uncouth and ignorant barbarians.

There is no doubt that this play, directed against the narrowness and prejudice of English society towards the Jew who wanted to mingle with them was pro-Semetic and gave the Jew all the best of it. The picture version does not minimize that point, but right now, with the Jew struggling for his life, it all seems a trifle dated. It is no longer vital for the Jew to achieve recognition in gentile society circles. He is now busy striving for the more right to exist as a human being.

But even that criticism is not damning. “Loyalties” seems somewhat dated for other reasons. The technique used in filming the story reminds one of the silent flicker days. The acting, especially that of Basil Rathbone, who plays the part of the Jew, is a bit overdone and melodramatic.


The Trans-Lux Movies Corporation will open a new Trans-Lux Theatre tonight in Brooklyn, at 561 Fulton street. The house, which will seat 500 persons, will specialize in news reels and short features. . . .

“The Czar Wants to Sleep,” a picture imported from Russia, will have its premiere at the Cameo Theatre on Friday. It is said to be an elaboratelly conceived satire on court life under the mad Czar Paul I. . . .

Elmer Rice’s latest, “Between Two Worlds,” will open tonight at the Belasco Theatre. Joseph Schildkraut and Rachel Hartzell will play the leading roles. All the action in the play takes place aboard a trans-Atlantic steamer. Aline Bernstein designed the settings.

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