10 NOVEMBER 1950, Page 14


"The Mudlarlc." (Odeon.)—" Harriet Craig." (Gaumont and Marble Arch Pavilion.)-4, Mr. Music." (Plaza.) TALL, handsome American Miss Irene Dunne is not the ideal actress to impersonate Queen Victoria ; nevertheless she does, in The Mudlark, make an admirable shot at the target. Her autocratic manner and guttural voice—though surely the Queen never called Brown Brawn—evoke a recognisable image of that terrifying old lady, even if the occasional expressions of tender understanding which sweep across her face strike one as being un-Victorian. Despite the fact that it deals with the penetration of a waif into Windsor Castle, ,a legend fraught with sentimental pitfalls, the film is charming. The child, Andrew Ray, could hardly be more-touch- ing, Mr. Finlay Currie as dear Brawn balances skilfully on the brink of lese-majeste, and Mr. Alec Guinness, as Disraeli, is superb. His performance is a, thing of joy. It is true that all the plums of an excellent script—the book is by Mr. Theodore Bonnet adapted by Mr. Nunnally Johnson—are placed in his mouth, but-he ejects them with so much relish, he has such confidence and poise, so much wit and subtlqty, he is so much a person, that he stamps indelibly on the mind a Disraeli he does not in the least resemble. His speech to the Commons is so inspiring that the hands leap automatically together at ,its close.

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As Harriet Craig, Miss Joan Crawford, with a stern masculine haircut and a stern, frigid eye, plays the part of a woman who,e first love is herself and whose second is her house. Her husband. Mr. Wendell Corey, strangely patient and obtuse even for a man, perches on his wife's uncomfortable chairs, wipes his feet and folds the papers all unawareAhat behind his back she is pulling influential strings which will kap him in her power for ever, pinion his wings for good. It is a little hard to believe that Mr. Corey, after five years of marriage, would not be waking from his love-blinded stupor, would not be taking a peek through slitted eyes at his patently odious wife. Everyone else in the film detests her without excep- tion. Miss Crawford is so rude, jealous, mendacious and cold that she makes Mr. Corey look a fool for loving her. The picture is well acted, and it is equally well directed by Mr. Vincent Sherman, but in spite of its many virtues it promotes a strong feeling of irritation. Any and every member of the audience would have thrown a vase at Miss Crawford in the first five minutes.

* - Mr, Music is a pleasing care-free film with a lazy Mr. Bing Crosby being bribed by Mr. Charles Coburn and badgered by Miss Nancy Olsen into composing A song or two, into working in fact, an activity he deplores. Mr. Crosby sings a lot, mostly in contempla- tive mood at the piano, and his voice spreads its charm from corner to corner of the screen. Fortunately, lack of space here enables me to drop my typewriter and lean back swooning at the memory