"As You Like It" and "Cover to Cover." At the
As You Like It is A, respectful film : that is to say ithereis.far more Shakespeare in it than there was in Reinhardt's Dream, and I dare say it is a better production than you will often see on the stage. In Miss Bergner's Rosalind freedom may have become elvishness and poetry sometimes whimsicality, her tear-smudged, bewildered features may be more easily asso- ciated with a constant.nymph than with the reckless-tongued Rosalind, but certainly in her private version she is, like.white witches, " mischievously good" ; while Mr. Laurence Olivier's Orlando, sullen, brooding, .a little oafish, is even more satis- fying. The only jarring notes in the acting were Mr. Henry. Ainley's Duke and Mr. Leon Quartermaine's Jacques. Mr. Ainley's false fruity enunciation carries, us back to the Edwardian stage, when every Shakespearean actor, ranted like a little Irving, and as for Jacques, his sting has been quite drawn. The great public may well wonder why this hearty good fellow was known to his companions as " melan- choly." Horns and cuckolds have been heavily censored, the streak of poison which runs through the comedy has been squeezed carefully out between hygienic finger-tips, and what is left, apart from Arden and absurd delightful artificial love, is Shakespeare at his falsest, Adam and church bells and good men's feasts and sermons in stones, all the dull didactic unconvincing images. That, I think, is the chief objection to Shakespeare on the screen : the British Board of Censors will see to it that only the school versions of his plays are produced.
Regarded as a film, As You Like It is less satisfactory. There are far too many dull middle-length shots from a fixed camera, so that we might just as well be seated in the circle above the deep wide stage at Drury Lane. The special possi- bilities soliloquy gives are ignored : the " Seven Ages of Man " is as falsely italicised as it usually is on the stage : we watch Jacques taking deep breath for the too famous passage, we watch his audience intently and unaccountably absorbed in the rather banal recital. How much more effectively this speech could have been expressed on the screen : say, through the ears and eyes of a bored listener who wanders off from the prosy cynic out of earshot but turns suddenly back to hear the better when a finer, more truthful line happens to reach his ear : " even in the cannon's mouth," sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." Dr. Czinner has been too respectful towards stage tradition. He seems to haVe concluded that 211 the cinema can offer is more space : more elaborate palace sets and ar real wood with room for real animals. How the ubiquitous livestock (sheep and cows and hens and- -rabbits) weary us before the end, and how disastrOusly the genuine- English woodland is spoilt by too much fancy, for when did English trees, in what is apparentlY late autumn, bear clusters of white flowers ? Freedom of movement, too, is often misused, and why should poetry be cut merely to leave time for girlish games of touch-wood through the trees ? On only one occasion is the camera a definite gain. The lyrical repetitions between Sylvius and Phebe, Orlando and Rosalind : " It is to be all made of sighs and tears : And so am I for Phebe." " And I for Ganymede." And I for Rosalind." " And I for no woman," with the help of the rhythmically panning camera move beautifully into the memory.
Cover to Cover, Mr. Paul Rotha's short film made for the National Book Council, is a far more interesting picture, for this director uses the counterpoint of sound and image With subtlety. Among the distinguished authors who take part, Miss Rebecca West has the best lines, and Mr. T. S. Eliot, I was grieved to notice, has not so good a screen face or manner as Sapper. Verge -is skilfully used in the commentary, though it has less simplicity, is less " seeable " than Mr. Auden's in .Night Mail, and all the stages,of a book from MS. to library and counter are dramatised with real imagination. the documentary point of view I' have one "serious: criticism. Did there ever exist such a heaven-born publisher as this who consults an author in the choice of his type-and paper,?
Swvinc OF THE 'WEEV.--• The whole of As 'You Like It really an intimate nhernOir
of a girl's first love affair.—C. A. LtartuNFi. • .