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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 5. May 24, 1951

Film ... — Re-Reviewed — Abnormally Politically Sensitive

Film ...


Abnormally Politically Sensitive

Few times in the history of aim-reviewing has a film been so flagrantly misrepresented as "State Secret" which was reviewed by 'Partisan' in the last edition of Salient. The review is deliberately and dangerously misleading.

1.The critic's point that "the idea of Douglas Fairbanks Junior being a surgeon comic" is invalid. One is not supposed to imagine Mr Fairbanks as being a surgeon; on is supposed to accept the fact that he is acting the part of a surgeon and for the time he is not Fairbanks, actor, but Marloy, surgeon.
2.He did not perform any extraordinary feats of he-man-ship in this film. Indeed, the whole action of the film was remarkably restrained. There are countless opportunities for the performance by Mr Fairbanks of those feats for which he is notorious, but advantage of them was not taken.
3.The critic appears to be abnormally sensitive. The scene of action was not "supposed to represent a country east of the Oder," by which I take it that he means Soviet Russia. I cannot see how "Partisan" could deduce any clue from the film which country it is supposed to represent. He had a choice of three or more totalitarian states and he picked Soviet Russia. Why?
4.No-where in the film were the people "sullen and unapproachable." Excitable, yes, suspicious, yes; but on the whole they were quite friendly. The reviewer contradicts himself in the next line by mentioning the "eminently pleasant cable-driver," and I might add the barber and the taxi-driver.
5.The people in the film were not "technically backward." I imagine the critic bases this statement on the fact that the farmer's carry their hay in carta—a common practice in all the world's most civilized countries." They were technically backward and yet they have slick sanitoria, motor highways, and railways." The contradiction arises from the misrepresentation in the view, not in the film.
6.The most flagrant misrepresentation is that "Partisan" called the vaudeville singer, played by Glynis Johns, "whore" and "prostitute." This was not the case and I challenge "Partisan" to produce one fact from the film that will prove that the singer was a "prostitute." If the critic cannot sustain interest in his review by honest criticism he should not attempt to sustain interest by filling his column with misrepresentations.
7."'State Secret' consist of nonsensical contradictions woven into a hymm of hate." The contradictions exist only in the mind of the critic (who stands alone in the world of critics); the political super-sensitiveness of the reviewer enables him to imagine a message where there is none. Many were the opportunities for the hero to make idealistic orations on the advantages of the democratic (or even American) system; they were all passed over. The restraint of the film was remarkable at a time when propaganda films are all too common.

I do not think "Partisan's" outpouring of misrepresentation, false arguments and unsustained arguments is worthy of the term "review." Perhaps if when reviewing a [unclear: shan] "Partisan" forgot politics and remembered constructive criticism, the result would be better.