19 JUNE 1947, Page 12



" Stallion Road " (Warner).—" Dual Alibi " (London Pavilion).

MR. RONALD REAGAN owns a stallion ranch in California. Miss Alexis Smith owns the ranch next door. Mr. Zachary Sco.t is the novelist friend of the former. Patti Brady is the kid sister of the latter. And of course there are the horses All of them, including the horses are, frankly, pretty boring ; in fact although I have a soft corner in my heart for any animal, however dumb, I should say the horses are the most boring of the lot. They" have one or two snorting gallops across the skyline, and a nice splashy canter in the sea, but other- wise they spend their time lying down, mortally sick. Never were ranches so riddled with disease. No sooner has Mr. Reagan brewed some potion which hoists one horse onto its feet than another droops down and assumes the horizontal.

It is true that Mr. Reagan has to discover a serum that will cure anthrax, that his sense of duty regarding a neighbour's cattle, also sick, causes him to lose Miss Smith's love as well as her Sultan, and that eventually he will get the dread disease himself ; but from an entertainment point of view the more utilitarian part of a vet's life leaves much to be desired. Mr. Reagan's romantic side too, though undeniably bearing the stamp of authenticity, is not particu- larly entertaining. Although he does not actually study Miss Smith's teeth, nor feel her hocks, he undoubtedly loves her more as a rider than as a woman, and she adopts a similar attitude towards him. Like all horsy Reople they talk of nothing but horses, their beauty, breeding, skill, and of course their illnesses. That they are meant to be boring, seeing that they bore Mr. Scott so much, I know, but I also know it is an artistic mistake to depict bores, particularly if it is done rather well. I was glad Zachary Scott got out of the triangle, for with his slick city ways and his rather endearing cynicism he would never have lasted long in that fresh horse-scented air. Why, he couldn't even ride! To give him his due he didn't expect his romance to last more than a week or two, and he packed his bags without sur- prise and faded quietly out, leaving the two ranchers to discuss the spavins, and to dream, perhaps, of little foals to come. * * * *

Dual Alibi is a British film, but not I fear one that will act as a thorn in Hollywood's tender flesh, or as a spur to its endeavours ; and what is so provoking is that, had the direction, casting and photo- graphy been better, it might have done both. The film concerns twins—two indistinguishable French trapeze artistes played by Mr. Herbert Lom—a circus manager jovially performed by Mr. Ronald Frankau, a wicked publicity man Mr. Terence de Mamey, his girl friend Miss Phyllis Dixey, and a winning ticket in the Loterie Nationale. While the twins are swinging about above a Blackpool audience, the publicity man steals their ticket and decamps to Paris with the perfidious Miss Dixey, there to live the sort of life con- comitant with a white fedora and a sable-collared coat. The twins pursue, and one of them (but which?) shoots Mr. de Marney, finally, the French courts having been unable to prove culpability, hanging his innocent brother by mistake at the conclusion of their trapeze act. A macabre tale, and one which, had it been handled differently, could have been poignant.

But Dual Alibi, to my mind, is wholly marred by the insistency of its divergences from reality, from things as they are. If only, ah if only, England had a state lottery! How can anyone, for example, believe in the existence of people who, in every way resembling characters in a French courtroom, nevertheless talk pidgin English ? I have never witnessed the unveiling of Miss Dixey but now that I have seen her acting, apparelled and vocal, on the screen, I can only faithfully presume her success on the stage was based on her having more to her than now meets the eyes, and

less of her than now meets the ear. VIRGINIA GRAHAM.