Salient: An organ of student opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 23, No. 4. Wednesday, May 4, 1960
Film Fare — Cinema Scene—A Poor Tribute To Muni
Cinema Scene—A Poor Tribute To Muni
"The Last Angry Man"
Paul Muni. a notable star of Hollywood in the 1930's ("Scarface," "The Good Earth," etc), has reappeared after an absence of seven years in the film "The Last Angry Man" (IV). More of a one-man show and a disguised tribute to Muni the actor, the movie is somewhat pretentious. Indeed, were it not for some fine photography by James Wong Howe, who did his work on location in Brooklyn, the movie would lose its chief mainstay and probably collapse about the producer's ears.
In the main roles. Paul Muni, David Wayne and Luther Adler give mixed performances. Both Wayne and Adler as the T.V. executive and the doctor's friend give competent performances; both are well cast. Of Muni it can only be said that the script does not do him justice, nor does he do the film justice; whose fault this I do not know (it probably isn't Muni's —he can't avoid getting old). As the film has all the exterior appearances of being a story about one man, played by one man, it is a disappointment. Also, technically, the movie is not up to much —there is some erratic continuity which should never have been passed.
"The Middle Of The Night"
Pregnant with dramatic content, the screenplay of "The Middle of the Night" (II), has its basis in the not uncommon ideal of compassion for the underdog. Paddy Chayefsky who gave us "Marty" and "Bachelor Party" has here written a telling impressionistic account of the struggle of two people against social conventions and conformity. Unfortunately. Chayefsky's characters are a trifle too arbitrary, and though the script never stoops to the level of melodrama, there is a certain dearth of material substance, a lack of genuineness about the script and action-theme. The treatment of the screenplay is no doubt largely to blame (or this, though I had the impression the primary fault lay in the direction, and that Delbert Mann did not feel quite at home with his subject.
The system of grading films is as follows:
As the two chief characters, Frederic March and Kim Novak are two capable players who here, turn in two sensitive and keen performances.
An intrinsic part of any film with such a setting and subject as Chayefsky's, the art direction in "The Middle of the Night" is superbly handled. Stock shots are at a minimum and the camerawork undertaken for the most part in low-key lighting with hard contrast accentuates the movies more emotive sequences 'superlatively. However, and only purists will probably insist that, the banal use of neuroticism and psychological misfits in the movie is the main drawback in on otherwise fine film.
"Carry On Teacher" (V) is another in the pathetic series of "Carry On" movies. Script, direction, photography are all used with wilful purpose in this film to produce what is one of the most disgusting comedies ever. Carry on you British producers, you've only yourselves to blame if British films are, by 1965. non-existent. "Upstairs and Downstairs" (IV) is another British comedy, superior to "Teacher" but nevertheless quite conventional. It stars, amongst others, Mylene Demongeot and Daniel Massey the best of a bad bunch. "The Sisters" (III) is the first part of another Russian trilogy dealing with the era of the Revolution. Music is by Kabalevsky and unfortunately the film's music score tends to detract attention away from the rest of the movie—a bad thing. "Operation Petticoat" (V) a comedy from U-I studios is crammed full of witless jokes; the humour is too banal. "The Scapegoat" (V) though with an impressive line-up of stars—Alec Guinness, Bette Davis, Pamela Brown and Irene Worth—is a film worth missing. Perhaps the only film worth mentioning here this week is the delightful French short about a goldfish and its owner, "The Golden Fish" (I). Right from the beginning with the titles presented a la Saul Bass, through the film with its superb music score substituting the normal spoken script and its remarkably fine photography, one is captivated by the way this little movie has been composed.
Forthcoming productions to Wellington cinemas include a large number of "epic scale" films. "On the Beach," Stanley Kramer's adaptation of Nevil Shute's novel starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire is coming to the Majestic. A film ballet lovers will find worthwhile is Paul Czinner's "The Royal Ballet." This is expected to be the most outstanding ballet film yet made. Films from Britain include the thriller "Libel" directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Dirk Bogarde and Olivia de Haviland; and "sink the Bismark" starring Kenneth More. Fred Zimmerman's controversial "The Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch will soon be here; "Anatomy of a Murder" has just come on at the Embassy and will undoubtedly attract many (and I hope not disappointed) people. Finally it should be mentioned that the Paramount-Internationale is holding an Italian Opera Film Festival starting April 28. Films to be shown are " Rigoletto," "Force of Destiny" and "Cinderella." Of the last named, C. A. Lejeune the London critic wrote— "The happiest example yet of the way these things should be done. An operatic film first and a filmed' opera second."