[" BEN Hun" AT Till: " MADEMOISELLE FROM
ARMENTIARES " AT THE MARBLE ARCH PAVILION.]
THE overwhelmingly spectacular Ben Hur, which has taken three years to make, has just come to the Tivoli, Strand. Its mixture of pomp and childish sentiment, its colossal edifices, crowds, pageantry, and obviously contemporary actors arc swept along to what must be called a screen-triumph by the undoubted sincerity of those who made it and intended it to be a great production. It will be reviewed at length in next week's issue.
The War as a subject for fiLm dramas is at the moment a very popular one. Thackeray, Stendhal and Tolstoi saved the Napoleonic campaigns for fiction, but it is hardly time yet, or few who survived it have the energy, to make tales of the great War, save the motion picture people. In inventing a film play it is so handy to be able to separate hero and heroine and then bring them together again simply by taking the period 1914-18. As a result we have had The Dark Angel, The Big Parade which was such good movies and such poor war, The Unknown Soldier, which was puerile and offensively stupid, and others, all from America.
Of course, England has had her magnificent War-records, Ypres, Mons, and the others, but Mademoiselle from Armen- tieres, now at the Marble Arch Pavilion, is the first important War-time film romance we have made.
The story, written straight for the screen by members of the Gaumont Co., who produced it, is no worse, in fact rather better, than the average adaptation from a novel. The actual construction or scenario and the characterization are unusually good.
" Mademoiselle " was a chubby, dark little person who served in an estaminet and surreptitiously aided the French intelligence department. A nice English Tommy grew to like her, but loved her only in time to suffer pangs of jealousy and doubt. She seemed to be playing him false. More of the tale it would be vexing to tell here, for fear of spoiling enjoy- ment of this charming picture. But along with hero and heroine go some genuine " soldats anglais," two of whom act brilliant little parts, a very sinister spy, and a roomful- of
incontrovertibly real _British staff officers. Heroics are graciously left to the French troops : the film does not make our men bag all the glory.
And the whole piece is immensely engaging, the most likeable kind of melodrama. Of course there-are faults now and then in the running of the drama. But as a whole this is a pietnie with which even the victorious Hollywood folk might be well content and which=-especially because it is so agreeablY English—we can proclaim as one of the best English films