22 FEBRUARY 1930, Page 12

The Cinema

AT the Embassy Theatre in New York- only news-reels are shown, and I am told that the theatre is crowded from early morning until midnight. The standard- price of = admission is 1s. ; the programme, is short and continuous so that one can fill any odd half-hour of the day pleasurably and profitably. The popularity of this news-reel cinema is far from sur- prising, for many of us prefer to see actua/ite films rather than films of escape, indeed I have frequently heard the remark that at least the news-reel film section would be interesting in an otherwise doubtful programme. And thest 'news-reel programmes consist not only of current events in America—. they are kept so up to date that events' happening in the morning are frequently shown at the theatre in the late afternoon—but of news-reel films from all over the world. Even in London to-day the Fox Movietone News and the Gaumont Graphic give varied programmes. For instance, last week the Fox Movietone News presented Mr.- Stanley Baldwin in hig library pleading a political cause. This kind of posed sound news-reel can easily be overdone, for we do not expect or particularly desire to hear these arranged interviews with politicians. There was no news (in the Fleet Street sense) iii what Mr. Baldwin • said ' on this subject, and there seems to be a danger of this precious section of the programme becoming a vehicle of publicity and not merely a record of current events. The second item was a charming little dance of two marionettes, a beetle and a grasshopper.—again• not news." • From this fantastic world our vision was swept to the Berengaria ' in dry dock at Southampton—an eminently suitable subject. We were next shown a two-year-old child which could not swim, diving from a height of about ten feet- on Miami Beach, Fla., and then some American " braves " from Chicago drilling in the snow and plunging into icebound water. At New York we learnt that a girl receives half a million volt electric treatment for her hair ; at Los Angeles, as usual, the in- credible occurs—we are shown a terrifying fight between two sea elephants which -had eventually to be separated by firemen.

This, as I have said before, is an excellent programme, although it could no doubt have been even better. It is impossible to suggest a perfect • news-reel programme, for this would be a matter for each individual taste and for each individual day. But I think most people would agree that we want to see current interesting events rather than personalities in the public eye. In England we are shown too many foundation stones being laid, mayoral functions, drilling troops, inaugural ceremonies, winning football teams. What I should hke to see is an eruption of Krakatoa or the effect of an earthquake in Japan, Admiral Byrd in New America, and to see them for several minutes, not for fifty seconds ; or even more, I should like to see everyday life in countries and places which are difficult to visit, for instance, the market in Moscow, midday on Broadway. In fact, we might very well have one section of current news and another section which could be called " How Others Live " which would not be " news:" but would indubitably Interest almost everybody. At the Stoll Cinema this week is Mr. Kearton's film of this kind, called Tenahi, with magnifi- cent photographs of South African jungle life. This kind is worth seeing : it is enthrallingly interesting and at the same time instructive.

It is doubtful whether sound news-reels are always more successful than their silent predecessors. Some subjects whose greatest interest lies in action should probably be shown silently, for there is a tendency to-day to choose subjects which are only remarkable for the sounds which accompany Ahern—any noise will be interesting. But on the whole 1-think the -sound news-reels are an improvement, for they naturally give a more realistic picture. It is probable also that the taking of sound news films- will be of the greatest use technically, for incidental sounds, such as dogs barking, taxis hooting, general conversation, &c., &c., are infallibly recorded, and it is in the selection of significant incidental

sound that most talking pictures--fail. - CELIA SIMPSON.