Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 10. July 19, 1957

Film Furore : — More Wrath

Film Furore :

More Wrath

So your film critic goes to the films 'to be excited, to become involved in human conflict, psychological or social". Good. His motivation is at least basically Aristotelian, And "I'll Cry Tomorrow" is a "dull, romanticised comedy". What nonsense.

Let's take it in stages, in words of few syllables. I thought that the book by Roth offered considerable scope for a talented actress. That talented young actress emerged in the form of Susan Hayward. She won a Cannes award for performance in this film, and for her acting in "The Jane Froman Story". She, by virtue of her skill, can (and has) made an empathetic audience "excited. . . involved in human conflict, psychological or social". Too bad the approach was biographical. "An idea may be taken from actual life, but the idea should be extended, the end being to produce a good story." That's silly, you know.

I would say, too bad the book wasn't written into the film. Cinema as an art form must take ideas from actual life—if the life is exciting, conflicting enough, the ideas do produce good stories. Lillian Roth's story is good. It's real, too. Real enough to inspire anyone with an ounce of compassion and sympathy for and experience of real human conflict, to "inspire them with terror and to induce compassion". That's life. That's art, What of Hayward's portrayal of conflict? A lesser person would have made a hash of it. A mess, in fact. Too bad, for example, about A.A.—"that's nice." It's not nice. It hides the point, the real point of the story being that she resolves her conflicts, "goes out and lives". But for some people, you know, it's hard to live. You may not be one of these. If not, you're lucky. Colin Wilson has spread his zeal over a few of them. For Roth, it took guts to go out and live. This isn't sentiment. It's not sloppy. It s life.

Alcoholics Anonymous have mellow-ship, give a sense of belonging—good; but not enough. Not nearly enough. Most of them have faith—not much in themselves, though. They know quite a lot about themselves. "And when you know quite a lot about yourself, you can do something for others. If you're in a mess, and if you've gotten yourself out, you can help others. You could probably help them anyway, but they might have broken in the interim.

"Roth found A.A.!" that's not true. She found herself—if you like, the shadow which she had pursued all her life. She wouldn't have found herself except for A.A. And people that find themselves after a long time "go out and live". They are stronger because they are aware of their weakest links. That's life. That's art.

The dialogue was depressingly mediocre. Stevens or Flaherty or Manckiewitz would have made a belter film. "Susan Hayward (revelled in the mediocre dialogue)". Really. That's not true, either. She used every gesture, every ounce of acting ability and insight into human failing and despair and torment and conflict that she has (and she has quite a lot) to squeeze the last despairing cry to choke the last heart-breaking, throatcatching sob out of the unwritten dialogue.

The conflict was there. Van Fleet portrayed a conventional perhaps slightly over-ambitious and insecure mother. Too bad.

What about Hayward? "When I go to the pictures I do not wish to be taught the evils of bad habits . . ." The evils are incidental to the drama, to the art: the 'bad habits' are the symptom of the conflict, and the conflict is the basis of all human art and of all "unrolling of scrolls (hat blaze in human heart and head" and of the guts of the human condition.

It wasn't a nice film? It wasn't meant to be. The plot was poorly adapted. A generation of cinema-goers suspects that this is not unusual. "A dull, [unclear: romantici] documentary"? You can't judge a film by its defects. Look for its little greatnesses, and occasionally you will see some genuine greatnesses in the unwritten, unspoken word. You can see them in this film.

See it again.—B.C. Shaw.

[I am not clear as to what Mr. Shaw is getting at. I think "I'll Cry Tomorrow" failed as a film, and seem to have made this clear in my review. It is suggested that I am therefore lacking in sympathy towards one who is involved in a struggle to find herself and to find life.—"Lillian Roth's story is good"—fine. I can well believe it, and would only like to see a film good enough to do that story justice. When I look for "the little greatnesses" in this film. I find only the greatnesses of the film it might have been.—J.R.S.]

Printed by The Disabled Serviceman's League 21 Lloyd St., Wellington, for V.U.C.S.A. Inc.