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The Daily Telegraph from London, Greater London, England • Page 11
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The Daily Telegraph from London, Greater London, England • Page 11

London, Greater London, England
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Theatre FILMS The Daily Telegraph Friday September 24 1978 Theatre Truth's merit seen in Theatre Royal into affection Violence mars an elegant festival By PATRICK GIBBS in San Sebastian inquiry By JOHN BARBER PEW PLAYS ABE about love Fewer still are about affection Same Time Next Year at the Prince of Wales a clever boulevard comedy from Broadway has the distinc tion of exploring the up pregnant and he delivers her baby Soon their weekends mean far more to them than sex Sardonically Mr Slade observes their changing life-styles: his phony sophistication in youth her hippy-jeans-beads craze in middle age I joined the book-of-the-month club and some times I even take the alternative selection and the evolution of their slang Warren Mitchell JF you fancy the quintessence of Alf Garnett's philosophy and a couple of solid hours of it may become excessive go to this Stratford East theatre There at a desk before a vast Union Jack with periodical draughts of beer and of Scotch Warren Mitchell discourses with characteristic cockney candour on any subject under the sun The appeal of it is appalling With no one to interrupt Johnny Speight's superbly vulgar and vileminded stream of oafishness Mr Mitchell holds forth with even more arrogance obduracy and comical crassness than on the television screen Admittedly the pianist Ronnie Cass protests from time to time to no effect And it is surely an artistic error for the awful Alf to seize a crackling microphone for his few songs Mr Mitchell is too good an actor to need it His timing and his amiably aggressive East End manner are enough Jto out him on amusingly tense terms with his audience If none of his outrageously reactionary attitudes meets with anv protest it must be because we know that as long as we keep laughing at him rather than with him he will purge us of any tendencies to share his prejudices Or does he some furtive way say things that we dare not? There is- nothing furtive about Mr Garnett On that delicate balance of shame and sham the performance and the writing thrive theatrically The sheer technique is admirable however condescendingly unwholesome the matter the manner and the sneaking appeal to our baser instincts nature of affection It is a funny paean to tenderness a comical commendation of the merits of truth There are only two characters They leap into bed after a chance encounter Both happily married to other people with six kids between them they nevertheless agree to meet in this Californian guest cottage for a weekend Television review PI 2 every year We drop in on them at five-year intervals over 25 years You could not have a sloppier premise But the author Barnard Slade looks at his couple drily If sexual desire led to passion their marriages would break up Instead it leads to affection Their therapeutic effect on each other helps save their marriages Each becomes the other's confessor critic and indispensable friend She is simple candid He is insecure and makes a noisy exhibition of his guilt-feelings They swop jokes about their spouses One year she turns What saves the play from its Broadway wisecracks and theatrical chicanery is the truth of Frances Cuka's playing In no way glamorous a cuddly bundle of soft feminine humanity she expresses Doris's sweetness as powerfully as her animal desires As George Michael Crawford's gangling adolescent-grown-up charm is valuable but he finds the comedy within his range and some emotional moments less comfortable The direction of Eric Thompson is beyond praise SWITCH TO SOUND The Home Office has granted a radio broadcasting licence to Swindon Viewpoint Wilts a community television station The local broadcasts will be received only by those with sets already linked to the cable network Dewaere making the man's predicament very moving and the actress Miou-Miou equally attractive and warm-hearted as the girl with a lovely sense of fun Beside this a French official entry A Faithful Woman seemed very pale The director Roger Vadim has had the curious idea of putting Sylvia Kristel who was Bmmanuele into clothes and early 19th-century costumes at that in a sort of pastiche of Laolos he once made of course a modern version of Les Liaisons Danger euses" Here Nathalie Delon is the vicious lady who directs the activities of the great seducer played by Jon Finch only to be thwarted by bis pure love for Miss Kristel who not without reason looks very miserable Only Claude Renoir's colour pro-tography is really pleasing The other French entry "Cousin-Cousine" which I noted from Paris in February was more creditable indeed a clever comedy of family manners The Spanish cinema has seemed to be coming up with two prizes at Cannes this year and such recent films as "The Beehive and Poachers" There was nothing of that quality in the several competing films of which I liked best Provisional Liberty from Roberto Bodegas I recall a neat little film of his about au pair girls in Paris from Moscow last year Alicia sells encyclopedias from door to door on commission and uses these introductions for occasional prostitution to eke out her money she has a little boy Manolo is a petty thief just finished a sentence Meeting by chance he and Alicia decide to co-operate their combined income then so changing their life style that it becomes a parody of middle-class living A good idea surely thus to satirise bourgeois values with awful glass figures on the television and the boy going to private school Only it's all in a vacuum and there is no contact with other bourgeois families which might so effectively have ridiculed the importance attached to outward appearances Another Spanish film Silk Worms from Francisco Rodriguez had to be admired for its unflinching gaze at the unpleasant a middle-aged man marrying for money a halfwitted girl and also for the performance of Esperanza Roy in this latter part The Italian Dedicated to a Star by Luigi Cozzi sounded terrible a young girl with leukemia takes up with a failed middle aged composer and certainly it wasn't very Italian being set in Brittany and Paris with the English actor Richard Johnson But it was saved by the warmth and good humour of Pamela Villoresi British entries by the wav WITH Cannes becoming grossly overbooked both with films and people and Venice attempting a revival this year gone Marxist San Sebastian remains the most elegant festival It has a lovely setting on a horseshoe bay a pretty festival cinema in a late 19th-century theatre and does not go in for a proliferation of programmes much beyond the two competition films each day All to no purpose this year sadly and surely predictably given recent confrontations in the Basque country theTestival was disrupted by an incident in Fuenterrabia nearby when a boy was shot by police Indignation spilled over into the old quarter of San Sebastian which went into mourning and the festival too with the usual opening festivities cancelled and evening dress abandoned throughout Even so there was violence on the opening night when protesters entered a restaurant where the jury were having supper and one of the mayor's staff was injured in conflict with the police So the festival which ended on Wednesday was very muted with so little help from the films themselves far too many had already been seen elsewhere that the circumstances might have been cited as an excuse to give no prizes If I say that the first prize or gold shell went to the Russian film The Gypsies go to Heaven a romantic story set in 19th-century Austria-Hungary The special jury prize to the Australian Caddie the best actress prize to Helen Morse for her performance in it and the actor's prize to the Pole Zdsislaw Kozien it is just for the record A group of critics were rather rudely offering a tin shell for the worst film much competed for As so often it was a film not in competition at all that I thought most accomplished and most likeable the French For Fairbanks" which has been running well in Paris in a programme devoted to new directors though its director Maurice Dugowson is not quite new Its central character is the son of a projectionist who brought the little boy up on a diet of Douglas Fairbanks Senior's films such as "Tie Gaucho or The Pirate" Now having just finished military service he can't get a job in Paris although a qualified engineer However he hopes for something from a big business friend (Michel Piccoli) Meanwhile wearing a gaucho hat but not otherwise much apeing his hero he meets a honey of a girl at rehearsal she's an amateur actress working in a tourist agency and thus starts a very romantic relationship which is also very funny as when he tuys to vault on to her balcony or ride a horse bareback Fairbanks style and also increasingly sad for some Left ist activity in the Army stands against him and he becomes increasingly desperate without a job A clever mixture this of the romantic with the realistic contemporary scene which is very much the opposite with Patrick Frances Cuka and Michael Crawford in "Same Time Next Year" which opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre last night Concerts i Royal Festival Hall "£50 off Hygena OA' RPODorati rpHE Royal Philharmonic Orchestra opened their 30th birthday I I 1 were The Omen and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The season yesterday evening with a programme conducted by Antal Dorati The big celebration of the evening was unquestionably Walton's Belshazzar's Feast" still perhaps after nearly half a century bis finest work and a superb vehicle for choral display The Brighton Festival Chorus achieved a handsome volume of roundness of choral tone well sustained and balanced and the confidence of their attack revealed their familiarity with the work Their soft singing was not quite so well focussed or characterised but the jubilations of the final chorus found them with plenty of vocal reserves still unspent The soloist was Benjamin Luxon whose voice is in fact a little light for the part but he largely made up for any lack of incisive power by the intensity of his tone and his excellent verbal articulation Instead of engaging an instrumental soloist to play a concerto this gala season was introduced by Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra" in which the element of display is provided by the whole body of players The characterisation of Bartok's wit pathos nd invention though always efficient had neither the sharp outline nor the rhythmic precision and buoyancy which marked the orchestral playing in Belshazzar's Feast" Even so Derek Wicken's oboe-playing was an outstandingly bright feature in both works Sea The Australian Caddie I noticed appreciatively from Cannes Meanwhile whether a festival can continue to be held in un ruly Basque country must be a question with this festival not exactly boycotted but hardly supported A move is rumoured as in time past to Majorca The other Fields By ERIC SHORTER in London house where something seems to have happened to one or other of them as nanny to a child who seems to have got murdered Seems? Well that's the idea of this bizarre and jaunty excur sion into a world omaally in spired by Lewis Carroll Alain Resnais Henrv James Howard Hawks Marcel Proust and others The jig-saw puzzle falls into place after three hours and hlmgoers who like to spot direc tors' influences and where and when Miles Berto and Labourier were improvising may be ad sorbed by what strikes me as an elaborately cumbersome and self-indulgent exercise in highbrow fooling One of the problems at the Hall Viktor Friedman EXCEPTING Haydatfs Sonata in flat Viktor Friedman's piano recital last night explored an expressive and technical world initiated by Liszt in works like the First Mephisto Waltz which was intensely played but with more than its share of inaccuracies That Mr Friedman identifies with the diabolism the feverish espressivo and dies irae-like grandeur invented by Liszt was confirmed in his performance of Rachmamdnov's Corelli Variations and Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata In the Rachmandnov however he took some time to externalise his feelings successfully opening with a show of inwardness which seemed self-conscious and achieving unlocked responses only in the later stages In fact his best playing was heard in the sonata for here has technical potential not perfectly tapped previously was released through concentration to become a flexible vehicle for a powerfully dramatic conception of Prokofiev's vision AEP British Film Institute lately has been how to bring its own films to the people All it can do for the moment apparently is to show them at its own cinema the National Film Theatre where a season of them starts on Tues day week IF you have ever laughed at Fields prepare to shed a tear for Arthur Hiller's bleak and boozy backstage view of his career in Fields and Me (ABC The me is his mistress whose commentary and appearances nudge the narrative forward from a New York sketch on stage too rude for Flo Ziegfeld but received with uproarious approval to his Hollywood triumphs Why such a snarlingly unlovable egotistic alcoholic shculd have amused so many people does not appear in either Rod Steiger's mannered performance or in Bob Merrill's screenplay It is evident that his art had small bearing on his life which was apparently filled by drink and doubts as to the loyalty of his women stag parties and a neurotic jealousv of Chaplin The comic genius must therefore he taken on trust Should we also trust the patronising and condescending biographer on whose memories as mistress the story is based? It may be true as far as it goes but does it go far enough? As a vehicle for Rod Steiger it is effective The fierce brown eyes beneath a thin blond thatch the screwed-up mouth to elongate each roaring declaration tire straw hat the bull neck the boorish manner all are there All except the man one remembers from the films He was funny Mr Steiger is just intensively pathetic with his false sose false pride false sentimentality and Freudian rages There was a touch of Falstaff in the character of Fields and it is well beyond Mr Steiger's reach I BE WARNED about Celine and Julie Go Boating (Paris Pullman and Phoenix AA It is not about two girls in a punt It is about memory and illusion and the way in which a thoughtful and accomplished film director (Jacques Rivette) can go whimsically out on a long fantastic limb and come an interesting cropper It is indeed about two girls (Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier) whose experiences in Montmartre excite our curiosity and theirs and the centre of curiosity is an old mysterious The best of these are very good Peter Smith's Private Enterprise Bill Douglas's My Childhood and My Ain Folk David Gladwell's Requiem for a Village and Horace Ove's Pressure To The Showroom Hygena Ltd Charleywood Road Kir by Industrial Estate Liverpool L33 7SH Please send me the name of my nearest participating Hygena Stockist You can buy £150 worth of Britain best selling range of kitchen furniture for just £L00Thaf £50 saving on the recommended retail price £50 saving on a top quality kitchen that really does improve your home But hurry! It's only at participating stockists until November 30th 1976 See your local press or send now for your local stockist's name and address Obsession (Plaza 1 is a really extraordinary rigmarole in which the audience is outrageously led up the garden path writes Patrick Gibbs and very pretty it is too what with New Orleans villas of the last century asnd the familiar tourist sights of Florence Early scenes show rich property developer CMff Robert-sou losing wife (Genevieve Bujold) and little daughter when police bungle a kidnapping ransom business in 1959 We see both graves Then on to 1975 and over to Florence where Mr Robertson first met his late wife and lo in the church of San Minato in Monte he finds her double There is no point in my making what follows coherent since the film doesn't Mr Robertson is not quite the romantic type to put us into absolute amnesia Miss Bujold of course is very pretty as first and second wife and no that would be incest Purcell Room Georgette Psaros Q-EORGETTA PSAROS is a true mezzo-soprano a voice whose most natural resonance and indeed power is around the centre of its range Coupled with an eager warmth of expression this made her potentially as excellent interpreter of Brahms's "Two Ruckert Songs" (Op 91) and so it turned out With Ian Jewel viola and Robert Sutherland piano these songs produced the best performance in last night's recital Wagner's Wesendonck lieder were also well chosen though her tendency to exaggerate particular points of emphasis came through rather more noticeably here something which was even more intrusive in songs by Grieg and Tchaikovskv Name Address (Offer not available in the Channel Isles or Ulster) Lookf or the Newsvend or sign -save £50!.

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