10 APRIL 1936, Page 16

The Cinema

"Liebesmelodie." At the Academy-"Pot Luck." At the New Gallery-"If You Could Only Cook" and "One Way Ticket." At the Regal Jr has been a dead week so far as new films are concerned : after so many successes one must expect a few rather empty weeks, for there are not enough cinemas free with Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Eddie Cantor still holding out at the Tivoli and London Pavilion, not to speak of the dull and depressing Cassandra in Leicester Square. All but the last of the new films are comedies ; they are not bad comedies judged by the depth to which the cinema can fall, but they look rather small in company with Chaplin and Cantor. Each contains a player whom I find peculiarly antipathetic, however well directed : Friiulein Marta Eggerth in the first, Mr. Ralph Lynn in the second and, most of all, Mr. Herbert Marshall in the third.

Liebesmelodie is one of those devastatingly gay films of Austrian life : one's spirit withers as the glasses fill. Only too soon, one feels certain, they will be splintered on the floor in gallant and noisy toasts ; the director will begin to cut his picture rapidly at fancy angles ; the gypsy violinist will reach the table of the revue star who will then (improbable generosity !) burst into unpaid song. Then for contrast comes, of course, the trip into the Hungarian countryside (the revue star has long dreamed of an old farm-house) and we begin to recognise the grim inevitability of that kiss on a haycock, the quaint national costumes of the peasants going by to a wedding. But there are consolations (though perhaps I ought not to count among them the odd use of inces- tuous love as a comic idea) : the admirable performances of Herr Leo Slezak, who may be remembered as the old composer in Musik im Blut, now an old Hungarian landowner threatened by a relic of his immoral youth, and of Herr Hans *Moser as his badgered and despairing moral bodyguard. There are consolations too in Pot Luck : Mr. Torn Walls as a retired detective-inspector of Scotland Yard acts with his usual ease, and Mr. Robertson Hare is admirably true to form as the diffident owner of an old abbey in which a gang of art thieves have their secret hide-out. This is the best directed film Mr. Walls has made, but one misses the slightly .salacious humour of the earlier pictures : there is too much melodrama, too little Hare, and, of course, a.s always to my mind, too much Lynn, too much Of the scaly tortoise face and hollow imbecility.

The Regal programme will have changed by the time this review appears, and I do not think anyone need await the release . of If You Could Only Cook with any impatience. It is produced by Mr. Frank Capra, who made It Happened One Night, and it bears a few agreeable Capra touches, a few situations- which Might have had wit if the main per- formance had been less earnest, less conceited, less humourless than that of Mr. Marshall, who plays the part of a millionaire on holiday posing as a butler. Not a bright situation, though' Mr. Capra, with the help of such players as Mr. Leo Carillo, Miss Jean Arthur and Mr. Lionel Stander, might have made something of it. But fantasy droops before Mr. Marshall, so intractably British in the American scene. He does, I suppose, represent some genuine national characteristics, if not those one wishes to see exported : characteristics which it is necessary to describe in terms of inanimate objects : a kind of tobacco, a kind of tweed,- a kind of pipe : or in terms of dog, something large, sentimental and moulting, something which Confirms one's preference for cats.

One Way Ticket is a rather sentimental melodrama about a prison officer's daughter who helps a convict to escape. It is Well acted and has one excellent sequence : the prison break when the captain of the guard (played by Mr. Walter Connolly) mows down with a machine-gun two of his own men who are held as hostages in the floodlit yard. This picture will pass an hour at a local cinema better than many more pre- tentious pictures. The most conventional American melo- dramas usually have a bite about them: they criticise as well as thrill, and that makes even One Way Ticket more convincing and entertaining than the polished fairy tales of Mr. Hitchcock.