Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 2. March 20, 1957
Anastasia is the story of a beautiful young woman who appeared in Paris in the 1920's, and was claimed to be the younger daughter of the Royal Family of Russia, who according to rumour was supposed to have escaped when the rest of her family were executed. According to the film the young woman, suffering from amnesia, appears from nowhere and is discovered by three racketeers who fraudulently endeavour to establish her as heiress to the Russian Royal Family's fortune, amounting to some millions deposited in the Bank of England.
Anastasia is played by Ingrid Bergman who received for her performance the award of the New York Film Critics' Circle. I hope she gets an Oscar as well, for she certainly deserves it.
Yul Brynner as leader of the racketeers was excellent, though one was constantly reminded of his performance in "The King and I". The makers of "Anastasia" seem to have read in the fan-magazines that Brynner is the man most women would most like to be tyrannised by. As a result he seemed too domineering, though from the ecstatic giggles with which he was rewarded his interpretation seems to have been appreciated by the females in the audience.
Martita Hunt as Ladys-in-Waiting to the Dowager-Empress gave the only performance that was grossly out of place. As a scatty old rouged-up flooxy she would have been more in place in a Comedy of Manners. Helen Hayes, as the Dowager Empress gave a restrained and effective performance.
The director seems to have devoted most of his attention to the actors, with the result that the camera-work is rarely more than competent, though at no point is it less than competent Some of the opening scenes, in fact, particularly those by the river, were extremely beautiful.
The only serious drawback to the film was the ending, which was decidedly trite. Here, the film departed from the play on which it was based to give us a Happy Hollywood Ending. A great uity in view of the sensitivity which characterized the film as a whole.J.S.
Mr. Shaw, who is always up to miss chief in some theatre or other, is being played again by Victoria's Own Drama Club. G.B.S., as we of the inner circle are wont to name him, had a theory, or at least a verdict, on most things, and one which he argues most eloquently is that Shakespeare was a man (a very worthy one) who had many of the finer parts that had made Shaw the greatest of all English dramatists.
"The Dark Lady of the Sonnets" is his last word on Shakespear's encounter with that woman; it appears to him that far from being the hopeless flouted victim of a frail woman, Shakespeare, because of his manly qualities and Shavian opinions, was very much the questing poet in search of Gloriana and one who had no illusions about the handy surrogate. Lady Mary Fitton. Why Lady Mary Fitton? That is another story upon which Shaw wastes a great deal of his preface.
Briefly, Shakespeare, while waiting for an encounter with his dark lady, who is no better than she should be, becomes entangled with Elizabeth the First whom he discovers sleepwalking on the terrace of the Palace at Whitehall. Before the dust clears Elizabeth (read by Elizabeth Keraley) is made aware that her Beefeaters (David Vere-Jones) are not above permitting the occasional poet (John Gamby) to meddle with the ladies-in-waiting) (Junne England).
Strangely enough this forms only one tenth of the entertainments in the Little Theatre on the night of Wednesday the 20th, when the Drama Club is hoping to find some new talent among the Freshers when they get down to discussing the new year's programme.—J.G.