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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 1, No. 1. March 9, 1938

Celluloid Estimate

page 3

Celluloid Estimate

Foreword: Film reviews are intended this year to take their place as a regular ingredient. The inter-relation of cinema and society is so inclusive that it is almost entirely overlooked. Generally it is thought of (if at all) under the head of Entertainment. which means the titillation of jaded senses by brainless coquettes like Joan Crawford or by vulgar ape-men like Clark Gable (who played Parnell without his heard lest it should mar his manly looks).

It is high time that genuine and fearless film criticism became the function of a university paper. What we read in the commercial press is almost always the reprint of blurbs sent in by the makers of the films themselves! Each company is given a free hand to boost its own goods—provided it pays the newspaper proprietors advertising money. And the review space given is directly proportional to the amount of advertising. No wonder every third-class film is hailed as an outstanding masterpiece.

It is hoped in the next issue to publish an article discussing the cinema as an art form and stating a few critical canons.


Ever since I saw "Dead End." I have been ransacking my baring for the reasons that prompted Samuel Goldwyn to produce It. Why should someone who for years has been preoccupied with photographing hair-dressed jezebels with million dollar legs suddenly turn out a first rate piece of realism? A change of heart perhaps, Unlikely. Well maybe someone did it while his back was turned. Maybe. Still it remains as inexplicable as the duck-billed platypus.

For the first time in my experience. a Hollywood camera man was permitted to use his camera dialectically. What I mean by "dialectically" is the presentation on the screen consecutively of opposed graphic ideas (i.e. thesis and antithesis).

For example—in "Dead End"—a blowsy old char pinches a half-eaten biscuit from a kid—while next shot, a 12 year old snob in a stiff collar tips his morning milk on the ornamental shrubs.

The meaning (i.e. synthesis) in implicit but sorely to a wide-a wake mind is as obvious as a roman nose.

The plot retains all the strength and indignation of the stage play. Closely-knit and never descending to sentiment, it is splendidly realistic throughout: e.g. tenement interiors. "Baby Face" and his girl friend.

Lines that Tell.

It had lines which were more revolutionary than any I have heard in a Hollywood picture before.

For the first time picketing was seen in its true light—Remember.

Deena pulls back her hat and says: "See that bump—one of your dirty cops did that today while we were picketing the store and three more girls were hurt bad."

Dave, speaking of the kids, says, "Enemies of society the papers say. What have they got to be so friendly about?"

And "Baby Face" to his girl—"Why didn't you get a Job?" Fransi—"They don't grow on trees."

Still I suppose one has to band the show to the six kids—brought over from the original stage show.

These six boys hold the picture to their own little destinies giving it colour and vitality all too seldom seen in latter purified days. Their speech has been cleaned up. of course, in the transition from stage to screen, their mouths have been washed out with the soap of Legion of Decency, but even under these handicaps the boys manage to make "Dead End" a vivid piece of dramatic literature.

Altogether a memorable show.

Emity Epilogue.

As I was being submerged in the avalanche of picture-goers who crowded the exits I heard one stolid little middle-class matron mumble—"Well how'd you like It?'" To which came the reply—"It wasn't very edifying, was it?"

It Just shows you how things are

But as Tommy says: "It all comes from learning." —J.D.F.