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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 7. June 13, 1945

Film and Stage

Film and Stage

There have been few worthwhile films screening in Wellington in the last few weeks. Naturally all entertainment has paled beside the College's own dramatic presentation, but we can now start seeing films again. There are a couple of interesting prospects, both Warner's, in In this our Life and George Washington Slept here. Repertory's next play is The Importance of Being Earnest, and, if you can stand it, the musical comedy Katinka opens shortly.


* Comedy

Kismet is a screamingly funny film, if you look at it the right way. Marlene Dietrich has shown herself occasionally to have considerable intelligence in screen work, and she must have had her tongue in her cheek with this little number. As for Ronald Coleman, well, he must have been able to act at one stage, the way they talk about him.

The Canterville Ghost

* * * * Comedy.

The Canterville Ghost is quite delightful. You can tell every turn of the plot several minutes ahead, but it has been produced and acted in a very engaging manner. The pride and joy of the film and of my heart, Margaret O'Brien, is practically the only woman, and you don't miss the others. This little girl is the only screen infant most people can bear, and if Hollywood can keep its hands off her, and leave her direction to a sympathetic character with a sense of humour who won't let her get above herself, then she will go on stealing scenes and films from grown-up stars, and a good thing too, the way many of them are. It is very obvious that the people in her films are extremely fond of her. There is an air of intimacy and cosiness (and credibility, too) in The Canterville Ghost that is unexpected when the scary nature of the story is considered. Robert Young, who has that sense of humour required above, and Charles Laughton, a solid-looking ghost, back up Miss O'Brien, and have fun doing so.

The plot is Just one of those things, supposed to be by Oscar Wilde, with a Young Man being a bit of a Coward, but Regenerating himself at the End. All the bit players are good, though most are stock characters like the British Servant and the Dowager and the Brooklyn Jerk. I don't think Hollywood has really got beyond the Yank at Eton stage yet.

Best scenes: the entrance of the Lady de Canterville, and a very British tea-party given for American Commandos. Recommended highly, this show.

In This Our Life

* * * Drama

In this our Life is just one hell of a film. In it Bette Davis, the bad sister, and Olivia de Havilland, the good one, have a terrible time amid sordid surroundings and doings. Everybody's very poor, see, but Davis has her eye on Money, but there's a young chap, and also her sister's husband, and she goes away, and then there's an accident, and the family is divided against her, but her sister forgives practically everything, and—oh well, it's all very grim and everyone suffers all the time.

There's something gone wrong with the film that needn't have. I think Bette Davis has said, I haven't Acted for a long time, here goes, and has turned on the bitchiest performance of her somewhat bitch-studded career. Dash it, we know she can act. There's no need to take on like this. The real trouble is that none of the characters seem at all like human beings. They are too bad, too shiftless to be true. Yet, in a way, I suppose the acting is good. One certainly can't say that Davis gives a bad performance. But everybody tries too hard. The characters themselves are so very squalid as to appear grotesque. The photography is good, and the sets excellent.

You'd better see this film, but be prepared to ask yourself whether life is really Worth living. The only consoling factor is that Ellen Glasgow's book hasn't been followed faithfully. It is quite the grimiest and most dreary little yarn I've laid eyes on, and everybody dies.


Repertory's last show was The Distaff Side, and the less said the better. I don't care if the play is by John van Druten, it is bad, and the acting of the one or two good people didn't make it any better. This play's chief fault is that the characters talk too much. It's the old one about the all-wise matriarch who gets everybody's troubles. There's even that scene with the old family friend who wants to marry her, about Would you live your life over again the same way? Yes, I think I would. People talk and talk and talk, and nasty little psychological messes are revealed on all sides. Give me Extrav. any day.

The Society is producing Winter-Set shortly, and this will quite probably be the finest thing they've done in an age. The play is, of course, a classic, and George Swan, their best producer, should make something rather momentous of it.

You tell me, sir—I think you err—
That drinking brings on sorrow,
I'm telling you, it is not true—
Whenever I can borrow
Sufficient cash, I make a dash
Down to the "Trocadero"—
Or else the "George"—and freely gorge—
At drinking I'm a hero.
Full many a drop it takes to stop
My thirst, but when 'tis over,
I am not sad, but ruddy well glad,
And rolling in the clover.