The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York on December 7, 1952 · Page 45
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York · Page 45

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Sunday, December 7, 1952
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.Maoris MOVIES Seven Year' and 'Ginger' Help Brighten the Season By LOU18 BHEAFFER SO FAR this has been a lean season for those who enjoy a serious evening at the theater,' something to chew-over .'and think about, and for the ambkfous soul's who ' tried to furnish the more substantial fare. Moss Hart's "The Climate of Eden," Italy's "The Gambler" and the uneven "See the Jaguar," which I thought had its compensating points, did not hang around long, and John van Druten's go at spiritual faith, "I've Got Sixpence," doesn't relieve the situation any, but playgoers who are looking only for several hours relaxation and fun are 'pretty generously accommodated. In addition to the older hits, Broadway has two recent arrivals, both of them by new playwrights, that provide a genial, cheerful time, George Axelrod's 'The Seven-Year Itch" and Ronald Alexander's "Time Out for Ginger." If it weren't for all the matinee cluh.-v v.-wing circles and Kaffee-Klatsches that suddenly pop up in' the Spring from somewhere and distribute scrolls, citations, plaques ' ami Thetfcrta to almost every Broadway attraction in sight, I... would say that' neither will ever win a prize for literary distinction or )ut8tandig.vrp.c;,vii.., They arpn'l, what you can ' caU'gaext pfsyh -exactly,- fr they were put together from a . sense' of craftsmanship rather than from any degree of inspiration, but,that isn't the important thing. The imxirunit thing is that they put on good, enjoyable shows, thanks to some extent to their own know-how but considerably more to the bright, engaging manner in which they're performed. Jn "The Seven-Year Itch," playing a Walter Mitty sort of role as a chap of active imagination and gaudy. daydreams who becomes involved with the girl upstairs while his wife's away for the Summer, droll-looking Tom Ewell has come into his own finally. He is on stage continuously, he's immensely funny and, hy bringing as much care and deceptively easy skill to the creation of an ingratiating character as to polishing off the laughs, he serves as a firm rallying point for a rather loose-jointed script. Mr. Axelrod's composition is a play of removable and replaceable parts, and it's no accident that he got his training as a playwright by writing stetches for Broadway revues, night club shows . and concocting material for the radio and television comedians. "The Seven-Year Itch" spends a good part of its time, at the Fulton Theater, illustrating our cautious hero's lushly romantic or melodramatic daydreams about his pretty neighbor and his wife, and, while they contain some of the best humor, just about any could be dropped or substituted without harming the play's structure. Actually, the author hasn't written a play so much as he has found a convenient framework for some more or less related comedy sketches. His device of having the two leading characters talk over matters with the voices of their consciences voices that are heard by the audience is part of his facility for whipping up comedy routines. Mr. Axelrod, I might add, estimates that he wrote some 500 shows for radio and TV during the past three years. At any rate, though the veteran sketch-writer and nov ice playwright hasn't come through with ,a well-organized play that rolls under its own momentum, he -has equipped It with funny stuff, bright, amusing lines, some clever situations, and has supplied Mr, Ewell, Vanessa Brown, as the girl upstairs, and the others with the incentive-to turn in a delightful performance. Mr. Axelrod has the right playmates -in his story of hoy meets girl, boy makes girl, boy worries and imagines a helluva lot. Tom Ewell, whose average-man face is one of the most eloquent starting points for comedy in the business, has the opportunity to give it a thorough workout and it works out hilariously. "Time Out for Ginger," at the Lyceum, builds its humor on another foundation, on the teen-age set and the domestic complications that arise from papa Melvyn Douglas, who talks too much, and three daughters who are willing, too willing, to take him at his word. Since writers don't write in a vacuum or without reflecting in some way their backgrounds, it's possible in Ronald Alexander's case, as it was in Mr. Axelrod's, to find the personal influences that went into his play. He used to be an actor, isn't unaware of the success of plays like "The Male Animal" and "Junior Miss" there are echoes of both plays in the new comedy and knows the type of characters and story material that register in the playhouse. His story has the familiar harassed father, the bumptious youngsters, the loving but good-naturedly sarcastic wife, the pert, outspoken servant, and yet it manages to arouse fresh entertainment from its materials. The writer, along with a cheerful, warm attitude toward his characters, has a nice flair for amusing talk, an eye for the comfortable details of family life, and he can put together a ripely funny scene. There's good fun in Mr. Douglas and Polly Rowles playing reluctant hosts to a startlingly conceited high school hero and, still better, in Mr. Douglas' graphic report, during which he just about knocks himself out, of how their football-playing daughter scored a touchdown. "Time Out for Ginger," genially and brightly played by all hands, has the laughs coming pretty steadily. By William Aurrbach-Levy 'WHISTLER'S GRANDMOTHER a new comedy starring Josephine Hull, the well-loved character comedienne, opens Thursday at the President Theater. Among her associates will be Alan Carney, left; Lou Gilbert and Dick Bernie. Consorts With Verdi, Bard, But Yearns for a One-Setter The Play Sampler U. P. Stall Correspondent Consorting with such illustrious names as Shakespeare, Strindberg and Verdi in his brief, youthful carper -as a producer has been inspiring and helpful to Robert L. Joseph, but . . . "I wonder what it'd be like to have one of those popular little one-set plays that don't cost much and practically run themselves once they get established." ' ' Joseph said this with a sigh, yet the 30-year-old impresario has no regrets about being the proprietor of "My Darlin' Aida,"'Epifania: the American-locale version of Verdi's "Aida." I "I took an option on the From Bernard Shaw's "The Millionairess," at the Shu-bert: Katharine Hepburn, as the explosive Epifania, has just informed her new attorney that she intends to commit suicide after willing all her millions to her husband in order to ruin him money goes to his head., The attorney, n ho takes her disclosure lightly, gives her a prescription for a fatal poison. rhinoceros. You are wuiik uidL undine r i ecu nidi 1 1 since we can rememoer. H0 Epifania IULI1CU nut aa cvjviu an 1 pan llrlliu Mt?ll IUI 11 UV Wltl K10E 111 aoout 1 1 montns ago ann 1 ve loved doing it," the producer said. "It's the biggest show production-wise since "The Great Waltz' back in the 1930s. We're selling out, but I still don't know how it will make out financially. But it's a show 1 "You are not a man: you are a also a fool." Sagamore: "I am only a solictor." "You are a rotten solicitor. You are not a gentleman. You insult me in my distress. You back up my husband against me. You have no decency, no understanding. You are a fish with the soul of a blackbeetle. Do you hear?" various capacities for other pro ducers, had a fling at Hollywood movie-making and is currently on leave of absence from the producing ranks of XBC Sagamore: "Yes: I hear. And I congratulate myself on the num television "People ask me how I get involved in these things I've can be proud of and I'm gladlbeen doing which involve a lot I did it." of cost, work and uncertainty," "Anyone familiar with showijoseph said, "I guess it's just business would guess it cost;hecause I'm nuts about the well over $300,000 to put on,"theater and when a thing ap-Joseph said, a little proudly, peals . to me I try to do some-"But actually it cost only about'thing about it. So far I've found $2.i0,000. jenough people with money to "1 savea thr Investors a lot aid and abet me." of money hy having the sets! Joseph was inwlved as adapt- ber of actions for libel I shall have to defend if you do me the honor of making me your solicitor." Epifania: "You are wrong. I never utter a libel. My father instructed me most carefully In the law of libel. If I questioned your solvency, that would be a libel. If I suggested that you are unfaithful to your wife, that would be a libel. But if I call you a rhinoceros which you are. a most unmitigated rhinoceros that is only vulgar abuse. I take good care to confine myself lo vulgar abuse: and 1 have never had an action for libel taken against me. Is that the law, or is it not?," and costumes designed ander and producer made during the Summer when the shops are'nt busy. They're glad to get the work then and you can have it done at regular wage rates. None of this last-minute rush that requires a lot of expensive overtime pay. If I had waited until Fall to do this, the show easily could have' cost $100,000 more. "We also saved money by not trying it out on the road. 1 can't take much credit for that the show is just so hig that I couldn't very well have traveled it . if I'd wanted to. We just stayed in New York, ironed out the rough spots through a series of previews and were in business." Young Joseph, son of City Comptroller Lazarus Joseph has had the theater bug ever Strind-isSBm0I,e: 1,1 really don know. I will look it up in my law berg's "The Father" a few sea sons hack, which was some-:Epifania: thing of an artistic success, but the public didn't go for it. Then he and Alex Cohen tack-eled Shakespeare's "King Lear" which has never been his most popular work, and they mounted a really notable production, with Louis Calhern as Lear. books.'1 "You need not. I instruct you that it is the law. My father always had to instruct his lawyers in the law whenever he did anything except what everybody was doing every day. Solicitors know nothing of law: they are only good at practice, as they call it. My father was a great man: every day of his life he did things that nobody else ever dreamt of doing. I am not, perhaps, a great woman; hut 1 am his daughter; and as such 1 am an unusual woman. You will take1 the law from me and do exactly what 1 tell you to do." Sagamore: "That will simplify our relations considerably,! madam." BAPT1STK AXD h E S Epifania: "And remember this. I have no sense of humor. 1 FAl-HKES CONFIDENCES, atj wiI1 not be IalIghed at- yndrs ;i shui? r dreamtof iaufghingr a,ciient wuh an French rnmnanv rennpn al income of three quarters of a million." weeks' engagement of the pan-'EPifanla: "Have vou a ses,e of humor?" First Aifhis TOMORROW New Ballet Group Tomorrow at the Century Theater 'Grandmother' Helps Parella tomime work and Marivaux'j Sagamore: "l try to keep it in check; but I am afraid I have a n8th Century comedy. little. You appeal to it, somehow." THURSDAY ' r. WHISTLER'S CR.tMIMOTH- FR, at the President. Anthony iParella presents Josephine Hull in a comedv hv Robert Finch. ...... I jiim.jL.u.immi mmnunii 'cast, directed hy Eugene O Sul-! hen Anthony Parella began; lieving the shortage of ne , fWJT-f"" jlivan, includes" Alan Carney,) his preliminary activities at the; playrights by sponsoring a ;i,onuy cnapman, dick uernie president Theater back in Au-! series of four new nlavs bvif fv. Our Screen Menu Includes Reissues in Dual Packages By JANE CORBY RKO RADIO PICTURES has announced the re-release of two of the company's top-grossing, pictures, "The Bachelor . and., the' Bpbby-So?r" . and ,. TBachelor,. Mother." They are being reissued in combination, under the title "RKO's Best Sellers." This, is an omnibus type of program with a new slant instead of one feature picture marie up of several short film stories, we are getting here two full-length features as a dual-feature package program. This is also a new slant on the reissue of films, which are usually re-released one at a time. It is interesting to' note that RKO has chosen to retain the original titles of its reissued films, while at the same time adding a new comprehensive title. That solves the title problem which has confronted studios that are reissuing pictures: Is it better to use the old title and watch some people turn' away from the box-office, muttering "I've seen that," or lure them into the theater with a new title, and hear them- raging .bat they've been gyjod, as they leave? RKO's clever solution deceives nobody, but the new title of their set of two old films puts a kind of seal of newness yn.Ue.i?vCv. -. -,.'.. ,.; ', -' ;'::. V'.':. v. The two pictures u re originally produced about eight years apart. "Bachelor Mother." an engaging farce about pseudo-unmarried motherhood, stars Ginger Rogers, David A'iven and Charles t'oburn, and was presented first at the Music Hall, back in 1939. In it Miss Rogers is a department store salesperson who gets fired on Christmas Eve, comes upon a baby on the doorstep of a foundling borne, and whilfe standing gazing at the infant in fascination, is mistaken by an attendant for the child's mother. Nor is there anything that Miss Rogers can say that will convince a lot of people whothereafter take great interest in her and the problem of caring for "her" infant, with resulting delightful comedy. "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" came along in 1917, and also premiered at the Music Hall. Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple combined to make it an all-out romp, good for both adults and bobby-soxers, as it spins a tale about a teen-age girl who latches on to a helpless artist and makes him an unwilling romantic partner. "The entertainment qualities and saleable values of these pictures have not diminished in any way," said Charles Boasbeijg of RKO, "sold we feel there is a tremendous audience for them." , i Other reissued pictures seem to have done well, in the past few years, or the practice would have been discontinued long ago. The remaking of old pictures is another favored sport among many of the studios and frequently the new production is a great improvement'on the original one, or in some cases, the several productions which preceded them. ; "The Prisoner of Zenda" is the outstanding current example of a successful remake of an old story. It's a, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture, starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and James Mason. Based on the Anthony Hope novel, a best seller of 1S9-1, it was made into a stage play in 1895, into a movie in 1913, again in 1923 and once more in 1937. The new edition is in color, and notwithstanding Its oft-told tale, is one of the best pictures of the year. "The Prisoner of JZenda" proves, beyond doubt, that a good story js always a good story, regardless of its vintage, and makes out a fine case for producers who like to make over pictures that captured public fancy in the past. Earlier this year M-G-M had another fling at remaking an old film, and came up with an airy and adventurous "Scaramouche." Stewart Granger played in this one, too, in the title role, with Eleanor Parker. Mel Ferrer and Janet Leigh starred with him. Based qn the Sabatini novel, it was first filmed, in 1923. The third variation on the standard film, the omnibus type of feature, which is meeting favor with some studios, and which combines several stories under a general heading, usually carries individual titles for each of the stories included. This omnibus type of film was introduced with the first of the Somerset Maugham series of combinations of short stories. British-made; titled "Quartet," it was presented in 19i9, and Included, as the name indicates, four stories in one framework. Later "Trio," with three stories, was offered, and more recently, "Encore," which also comprised three stories. Twentieth Century-Fox brought out the first American omnibus film recently, using four O. Henry stories under the title "O. Henry's Full House." The individual stories, most of them familiar to O. Henry fans, are "The Cop and the Anthem," "The Clarion Call," "The Last Leaf" and "The Gift of the Magi." All this experimentation with reissues, remakes and omnibus-type pictures is interesting, from the standpoint of variety. But the standard full-length new movie will probably remain the popular style film for some time to come. "A Streetcar Named Desh-e,"md Lou Gilbert. Sets by Leolgust. he announced that he jcomparativelv unknown writers.! f 7 alene Bettis' new ballet based iKerz. hoped to do his bit toward re- , ' . . f VfV a the Tennessee "'Hlhm- Later- k aPPred that Mr., -, A MIA SLAVENSKA appears as Tennessee Williams' ill-fated Blanche in Valerie Bettis' ballet version of "A Streetcar Named Desire," which the Slavenska-Franklin Ballet prtmitrt ot the Century tomorrow. V on play, will feature tomorrow night's opening program of the new Mia Slavenska-Frederick Franklin ballet company, which opens a week's engagement at the Century, with Alexandra Danilova as guest star. Miss Slavenska will dance the role of Blanche, played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy and Uta Ha-gen; Mr. Franklin will dance Marlon Brando's former role, and Lois Ellyn will appear in Kim Hunter's former role as the sister. The program will include another premiere, Slavenska's "Symphonic Variatiions," to Cesar Franck themes, as well as "Nutcracker Suite," with Danilova and Roland Vazquez, and "Don Quijote Pas de Deux," with Slavenska and Franklin. Among the company's other principals are Shirley Weaver, Sally Seven, Naomi Roneck, Jamie Bauer, Marvin Krauter, Ronald Colton and Robert Morrow. The orchestra will he conducted hy Otto Frollch. The week's other premieres will be: Tuesday. "Mile Fifi," created for Danilova hy Hie Metropolitan Opera's Zachary Solov, music by Theodore Eduard DuFaure Lajarte, and on Thursday, Slavenska's "Portrait of a Ballerina," set to Doh-j nanyl's "Variations on a Nursery Rhyme." I & BEATRICE LILLIE, os a bewildered school boy, learns the focrs of life in her successful intimate revue, at the Booth, which performs tonight for the Equity Welfare Fund. . A . - r" J - g J I gfctaMttHmwunmi Parella had abandoned thisi policy when he opened his season with a revival of Sometset ' Maugham's "The Sacred Flame,"! s but he made it known imme-, diatcly that he was using the' veteran authors prestige to help publicize the theater and its program. Thursday evening at the President he will launch his policy with the opening of Rohert Finch's comedy. "Whistler's Grandmother," starring Josephine Hull, who is fondly recalled for her delightful playing in "Arsenic and Old Lace," "You Can't Take It With You" and, among other hits, "Harvey." Although "Whistler's Grandmother" is his first script to reach Broadway, Mr. Finch is hardly a new playwright. He has written some 53 one-act plays and also several short plays that were adapted for Hollywood movies. Producer Parella says of his author's ability, "Bob has a knack for characterization that' promises well for the play. All) the characters have a warmth J that has endeared them to' those who've read the script. If! EXTEND BALLET RUN Tonaquil LeOercq is among the that warmth can reach across; leading dancers of the New York Cify Ballet, which hos from the stage to the audience,1 extended its current City Center enqogement throuqh I feel that a kind of Saroyan-; jon 4 esque quality will result and a : : - - -- - " great future' for Bob Finch." I BROOKLYN EAGLE, SUN., DEC. 7, 1952 29

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