St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on January 24, 1943 · Page 55
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 55

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Sunday, January 24, 1943
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The S creen WSSA7 " A rs 4 Slick Customers Enliven 'Casablanca' By Covn McPherson IT probably is the writing, more than anything else, that makes "Casablanca," at the Fox Theater, the delightful, once-in-a-blue-moon picture that it is. That is the way with most delightful things on stage and screen. You keep tracing back and back for the fellow really responsible and you'll probably find him in a back room, with his collar open, chewing on a pencil and wondering, loudly, why In heaven's name, he ever became a writer. All right, then, it's the writers. Just the same, if we had been Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, Murray Burnett and Joan Allison and we had double-spaced such a script as "Casablanca," we would have kissed the Warner Bros, on both cheeks for lining up the cast that appears on the Fox screen Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Green- street, S. Z. Sakall, Peter Lorre, Leonid Kinskey, John Qualen, Dooley W uson and others. That kind of casting is the kind a police chief would do lining up most of the known slick customers of Hollywood to prevent any scene-stealing. At the same time, some histrionic larceny does go on. Aided by the writers, Mr. Rains takes a lot away from Mr. Bogart, splendid actor that he is. Sakall steals from Bogart and Henreid both quite easily, perhaps innocently. Dooley Wilson's piano playing always concentrates attention on Dooley Wilson, whoever else is around. The writers and Director Michael Curtiz, whose sureness and skill ere rarely to be questioned in any picture he handles, have given "Casablanca" an exotic atmosphere, a flow of action, surprises and punch to make it constantly interesting. There is witty comment on Vichy, the Nazis, the Italians and even the Americans. And there are such dramatic highlights to be remembered afterward as a group of loyal French singing "I,e Marseillaise" and drowning out the Nazis' barber-shop on "Die Wacht am Rhein," or a lovely and well-bred Bulgarian refugee offering to give her all to get her husband to freedom. But there is also excellent individual characterization and fine interplay of characters. a It Pays to Look Sharp In This Kind of Company For example, take Rick, the character played by Bogart. Kick operates a very successful gambling house and cafe In Casablanca, the French Morocco port now in American hands but not at the time of the action in the picture or even when the picture was made. Rick, in his day, has smuggled guns to Kthiopia, has fought with the Loyalists in Spain and the Nazis have put a price on his head, if and when they have the chance. He himself sees the agonizing flight of refugees around him and is not moved to do much about it. "I stick my neck out for nobody," he says, and keeps his eye on the cash register. It is interesting to watch this Rick, or Bogart, in his cafe, to see him exchange glances with a dealer in stolen visas, Sydney Greenstreet, or carry on a duel of wits with the French prefect, Claude Rains. Or try to be cruel to a former sweetheart, Miss Bergman. Rains' role is ideal for him. Under the thumb of the Nazis, this Capt. Louis Renault, whom he plays, has to be very shrewd, Indeed. "Only a poor, corrupt official" is the way Capt. Renault describes himself. He is that, since his position gives him every encouragement to be corrupt, and wonderful opportunities, but he has his sympathies, which are not with the Nazis, and a sense of humor along with them. Sometimes sympathies and humor get together, as when he says, after a devastating raid on Rick's place, "I told my men to be especially destructive you know how that impresses the Germans." The Nazis, headed by Conrad Veidt, are as untrustworthy as anybody else and "Casablanca" has pickpockets and thugs to round out its unreliuhles. One is allowed to suspect Miss Berg man's affections, too, but that's another story. In fact, that's the story of "Casablanca." Likes His Work So Well His Pictures Run Overtime, fm HIS fellow Preston Sturges, who brought forth "Strictly Dis 1 honorable" on the stage, "The Great McGinty," "The Lady Eve" and now "The Palm Beach Story" oa the screen, apparently likes his work. Since he writes and directs his own pictures, there is no other way out than to say that he is a very brilliant fellow end that the customers of the Ambassador Theater can write him the fan letters, if they so choose. This comedy starring Claudette Colbert Is full of laughs, at the expense of a deaf frankfurter tycoon,- a New York policeman, a railroad company, the Ale and Quail Club, the rich who hang around Palm Beach and anything else that comes to mind. Mr. Sturges not only has plotted "The Palm Beach Story" for laughs, and gagged it for laughs, but he tosses in laughs frequently when he doesn't need them. So "The Palm Beach Story" runs too long and that, except perhaps that it isn't sufficiently respectful to the war, is its only fault. Through the luscious lips of its heroine, Miss Colbert, "The Palm Beach Story" expresses the idea that it is quite cricket for a girl, although married, to use her charms to advance her husband's financial future. Nothing to that, you eay, done at every dinner party. But Mr. McCrea, the husband In this case, doesn't think so much of it. In fact, he's ready to beat up again money-burdened lad who tries to be helpful. So the trail goes from New York to Florida and the audience which comes in out of the fog, rain, sunshine or what have we, gets to go South on a fast train, ride on a yacht and put up in the kind of a shack that makes you thnk the housing shortage is just a filthy Nazi rumor. All of this is very pleasant in January, 1943, end we are bound to say that what is Mr. Preston Sturges pleasure is our pleasure, too. Maybe he can't get away right now, either. A Great Class B, If This Keeps Up. Paired with "The Crystal Ball," at Loew's, which is a comedy and not bad, is the latest of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer -hospital picture, one of the series which used to be called the Ir. Kildure pictures, before Lew Ayres reaction to military service became a subject of discussion and Dr. Jimmy Kildare had to take leave of the screen. The present film is called "Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant" and that is the rule now with the pictures in this series Dr. Leonard Gillespie gets the glory. Even in the days when the Dr. Klldares were going good, some reviewers felt called upon to insist that Dr. Jimmy was far less fascinating, for entertainment purposes, than Dr. Leonard. In "Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant," the cider physician is Interested in picking another young man to replace Dr. Kildare and it is to be hoped the newcomer keeps his place. For Lionel Rarrymore's performance as Dr. Gillespie should be preserved and developed and enlarged Into a movie institution, if possible. The Kildare pictures beg pardon, the Gillespie pictures-are written with a view of taking account of discoveries in medicine as well as solving medical mysteries. Sulfanilamide for pneumonia and insulin shock treatment have been tried in them long ago. It is of more than passing interest, then, In "Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant" to hear the good doctor lambasting the unqualified leeches of his own profession at one point and advocating group medicine, or something similar, at another. Give Gillespie a Class A picture once and we might see some fireworks. v! .,r ; ;-ip '" t-r : vO I ; i- : ' X J, : .; 1 f- ' , v 1 -mmJZ.t : ". It's a Woman's World On Broadway Now By John Ferris NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (AP). ITHER through accident or some design too subtle to analyze, women have made a fair bid to dominate the Broadway stage this season. Like the men, they've done some wretchedly disap pointing things; on the other hand, the successes have been distinctive, and the misses at least no more off the mark than the men's. E "THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY," FILM DRAMA OF A WASHINGTON (D. C.) WOMAN WHO REFUSES TO TAKE ANY PART IN THE WAR EFFORT. COMES TO ST. LOUIS NEXT THURSDAY NIGHT AS THE MAIN FEATURE ON THE BILL AT THE ORPHEUM THEATER, TO BE REOPENED AND RUN UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF LOEW'S INC. PLAYERS IN THE FILM ARE FAY BAINTER, AS MRS. HADLEY, EDWARD ARNOLD, VAN JOHN SON. JEAN ROGERS AND RICHARD NEY. 'Priorities of '42' To Give American Week of Vaudeville Kostelanefz and William Kapell With Symphony THE show which is creauea with reviving vaudeville on Pmailurav lat RTirinp rnmpa to the American Theater next Sunday night, following the conclusion of the run of "Porgy and Bess," current attraction. "Priorities of 1942," featuring Lou Holtz, Willie Howard, Bert Wheeler and Hank Ladd, ran 400 performances on Broadway and started a genuine "trend" in show business. "Priorities of 1942" made its bow last March, under sponsorship of Clifford C. Fischer, in association with the Shuberts. Wiseboys of the street saw it in no rosy light in advance, since vaudeville of the big-time variety had failed of too many resurrections. But Fischer had a hunch and one based tin ex perience. In his day he had booked many of the big names of the the ater Sarah Bernhardt, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Lauder and Mau rice Chevalier, to mention a few His hunch this time was that a really good variety show would give Broadway something for its war nerves, so he lined up three big names Holtz, ' Howard and Phil Baker, since replaced by Wheeler and Ladd. He hired show girls and dancers, he rang up the current. "Priorities" was a hit and vaudeville was back. As for the trend, along came "Keep 'Em Laughing," with William Gaxton, Victor Moore, the Hartmans and Hildegarde, at the Forty-Fourth Street Theater in New York; "Headliners of 1942' with Bert Lahr, Bert Wheeler and Joe E. Lewis at the Grand Opera House in Chicago; "Laugh, Town Laugh," with Ed Wynn in New York; "Harlem Cavalcade" with Noble and Sissle, in New York; "Topnotchers," with Gracie Fields, Al Trahan and Zero Mostel in New York; "Show Time," with George Jessel, in Log Angeles originally, now in New York; "Blackouts of 1942," with Ken Murray, in Hollywood. And, those associated with "Priorities" point out, most of the others were failures. "Priorities" had that something extra, that vital difference. Not only Hoitz, Howard, Wheeler and Ladd but Gene Sheldon, Luba Malina, Peggy and Moro, Rrancetta Malloy, the Helen Reynolds Skaters, Loretta Fischer, Lora Saunders, Larl and Conchita, Al K e 11 y and the Versailles Beauties. What's' more, so far as St. Louis is concerned, it is a survival of the fittest and the only one of its type the kcal theater season is likely to see. In the cast of "Porgy and Bess," remaining through this week, are Todd Duncan, v Etta Moten, Warren Coleman, Avon Long, Georgette Harvey, Edward Math- ews, Ruby Elzy and J. Rosamond Johnson. Alexander Smallens conducts the orchestra and singing company, which includes one of Eva Jessye'a celebrated choirs. i HE noted radio conductor, ! Andre Kostelanetz, and the young American pianist, Wil liam Kapell, will be presented by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as guest attractions of its concerts this week. Kostelanetz appears at a special concert on Thursday night at the Opera House, Kapell with the orchestra at subscription concerts on Friday afternoon and Saturday night. Three works new to St. Louis Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," Jerome Kern's "Mark Twain" and the Overture to Rez- nlcek's "Donna Diana" are on the Kostelanetz program, with the Overture to Wagner's "Die Meis- tersinger," Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and Ravel's "Bolero." Carl Sandburg, poet, folksong collector and Lincoln biographer, has been engaged to read the text in the Copland composition, and the solo piano part in "Rhapsody in Blue" will be played by Russ David, pianist and mi-sical director of KSD. Kapell will play Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 at the subscription concerts, with Conductor Vladimir Golschmann and the orchestra also offering Brahms' Fourth Symphony and the local first perform ances of the ballet suite, "Bara-bau," by Vittorio Rietl, nineteenth century Italian composer. KOSTELANETZ, OF RUSSIAN BIRTH, became affiliated with radio in this country as early as 1924 and has been an outstanding network conductor since he joined the Columbia Broadcasting Sys tern in 1930. He will bring with him, for use here, the same or chestrations that he employs in his Sunday afternoon broadcasts, heard locally over station KMOX. The Copland and Kern musical sketches came about as a result of America's entrance into the war. The works were composed on commission from Kostelanetz, who sought music which could be employed to mirror the nation's spirit. The Copland work is dedicated to the conductor, who gave it first hearing May 14, 1942, in Cincinnati. Kostelanetz has since presented "Lincoln Portrait" at concerts in Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, Hollywood, as well as on his Sunday afternoon broadcasts. Copland, a native of New York, wrote his first sketches last Feb ruary. The letters and speeches of Lincoln supply the text, consisting of excerpts particularly appro priate to present world conditions. The Kern musical opus, which describes Mark Twain's colorful life, beginning with his boyhood in Hannibal, Mo., is divided into four major parts: "Hannibal Days," based on Twain's own words; "The Gorgeous Pilot House," "Wander ... l 1 - I WILLIAM KAPELL. GUEST ARTIST .AT THIS WEEK'S SYMPHONY SUBSCRIPTION CONCERTS. ings Westward, and "Mark In Eruption." TWENTY-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM KAPELL of New York City began his study of piano at the age of 10, in a music school in the Yorkville Settlement. After six weeks of playing he won a prize given in a competitive contest by Jose Iturbi famous Spanish conductor-pianist, for a performance of a movement from a Haydn sonata. Later, the Columbia Grammar School provided him with a full tuition scholarship for four years and during his senior year , there he won scholarship to study under Olga Samaroff at the Philadelphia Con servatory. While under her tute lage, he won the important award of the Youth Contest of the Philadelphia Orchestra to appear as soloist. In September, 1940, he en tered the Juilliard Graduate School on a fellowship, and in the follow ing February played with the Phil adelphia Orchestra. The succeed ing month he won the Hamburg Contest, which provided an award for a New York recital. During the summer of 1941 he again played with the Philadelphia Or chestra. Last February Kapell was chosen for the New York Town Hall En dowment Series Award, an honor given annually to an artist, under 30, who, in the opinion of critics and the Town Hall Music Commit tee, has given the most notable re cital of the previous year in the hall. Al Woods' presentation of Wil frid H. Pettitt's melodrama, "Nine Girls," with a cast containing just that number and no men, ran five performances last week. Gilbert Miller's production of "Lifeline," tale of a British merchant ship in convoy, had an all-male cast of 12, including such veterans as Dudley Digges, Rhys Williams, Whitford Kane and Colin Keith-Johnston, yet it hardly outdid "Nine Girls" in longevity. "Cry Havoc" was another recent all-girl affair, an importation from California, which arrived in New York with a great deal of ballyhoo pointing it up as a female "Journey's End." It very quickly cried quits. The good things, however, have been strikingly good. One of them, Max Gordon's production of Joseph Fields comedy, "The Dough-girls," staged by George S. Kauf man, arrived auspiciously the night before New Year's eve and looks if it will carry on in its own superbly nonsensical and rib-crack ing way for a long time to come The laughter which shakes the rafters of the Lyceum Theater is prompted mainly by four delightful young women: Virginia Field, Ar- leen Whelan and Doris Nolan as the doughgirls and Arlene Francis as the fetching Russian sniper. Another piece of hilarity for which women are even more re sponsible is the Jed Harris production, "Dark Eyes," which opened Jan. 14 at the Belasco. The comedy was written by Elena Miramova in collaboration with Eugenie Leontovich, who probably is best remembered as the ballet dancer in Vicki Baum's "Grand Hotel." Both these ladies, with the assistance of Ludmllla Toretz- ka, a massive woman of great tal ent, gambol through the evening in so comical a fashion that a kind of victory tax is imposed on them: At least 5 per cent of their words are smothered in the guf faws of the audience. STILL ANOTHER TRIUMPH ON TILE FEMININE SIDE has been the return of Ethel Merman to Broadway in Michael Todd's "Something for the Boys," the big gest smash hit of the season and a fresh opportunity for Paula Lau rence to exhibit her inimitable an tic style, and Betty Bruce her rhythmic taps. One of the shining adornments of any season is Katharine Cornell and this year she has shown her extraordinary devotion to the theater by producing Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" with herself in the role of Masha, the eldest; Judith Anderson as Olga; Gertrude Musgrove as Irma and Ruth Gor don as the cunning and irascible sisier-in-iaw, rsatasna. .fuduc re action has not been altogether ap plausive, but the show will stand scrutiny with the best production of Chekhov. "The Willow and I- was another example of the persuasive power of women In the theater. Barbara O'Neil and Martha Scott were ransomed from Hollywood for the principal parts. Unfortunately the play blew up with its second act thunder storm. "The Damask Cheek,w the John Van Druten-Lloyd Morris comedy, which starred Flora Robson, moved pleasantly along on a note of polite laughter for two months until Miss Robson took cold and Dwight Deere Wiman decided to close. Women had a lot to do with "Yankee Point," a little story about women at war. Marie Louise El-kins was co-producer; Gladys Hurl-but wrote the play, and Edna Best, Elizabeth Patterson and K. T. Stevens had a major share of the activity on stage. The Gish sisters returned briefly to Broadway, Lillian with Stuart Erwin in the Theater Guild's "Mr. Sycamore," by Ketti Frings a woman), and Dorothy with Louis Calhern in "The Great Big Doorstep," a comedy by Frances Goodrich and her husband, Albert Hackett, which deserved a good run and didn't get it. Katharine Hepburn also returned In "Without Love." and if the play itself is weak, Miss Hepburn is a delight to the eye and ear. There were a couple of minor incidents, "Vickie," jammed with women, and "Janie," the latter sur vives. So, for that matter, do Arsenic and Old Lace" which de pends largely on the sinister minis trations of two aging ladles; "Jun ior Miss," the joyous shenanigans of adolescents, mostly female, and "Blithe Spirit," or life with the spooky Leonora Corbett and Peggy Wood and the dizzy Mildred Nat-wick. "My Sister Eileen," a notable ex ample of feminine strength in the theater closed last Saturday night after 866 performances. Sigmund Romberg To Conduct Concerts Sigmund Romberg, composer of such famous operettas as "The Student Prince," "The New Moon." "The Desert Song" and "Maytime, will appear in St. Louis as an orchestra conductor on Wednesday evening, Feb. 10, and Thurs day evening, Feb. 11, at the Opera House. Programs for the concerts will be divided in two sections. In the first, Romberg and the orchestra with which he is making a nation wide tour, will present selections from Tschalkowsky, Chopin. Schubert, Lehar, Kalmann, Herbert and Johann Strauss. In the second half, Romberg takes his place at the piano, with Frank Cork con ducting, and song hits from the Romberg operettas are played. Three singers, Grace Panvini, Marie Nash and Gene Marvey, ap pear with the unit. Lena Home Back To the Studios Again With the plaudits of New York's swankest audience ringing in her ears, Lena Home returns to Hollywood after a brief but sensational two-week appearance at Manhattan's famed Savoy-Plaza, to join Kay Kyser, Marilyn Maxwell and William Gargan, in Metro-Gold-wyn-Mayer's musical f u n f e s t "Right About Face." Miss Home's rapid rise to screen fame started with her debut in "Panama Hattie." She has since completed a dramatic portrayal in the film version of the musical hit, "Cabin In the Sky." In her forthcoming musical, the sepia singer will, in her individual style, introduce several melodies Intended to become the nation's sonja hits. She will be accompanied by the music of Kay Kyser and his band. Danny Kaye Film "With Flying Colors" is the title of the new comedy with music in which Samuel Goldwyn will introduce Danny Kaye to the screen. The film will be in color. Dinah Shore, the blues singer who made her film debut in "Thank Your Lucky Stars," has been engaged for a featured role. XMJnYA SUIT65 " NMJL H -a if" M PAGE 6H EVERYDAY MAGAGINE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, JANUARY 24, 1943.

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