23 JULY 1948, Page 13


I Remember Mama." (Leicester Square.)--" If Winter Jomes." (Empire.) — " The Red Shoes." (Gaumont and Marble Arch Pavilion.)

I Remember Mama, made into a play by Mr. John van Druten from somebody else's book, has now been re-adapted for the screen, and, although the original play struck me as being as slender as a thread of cotton, the film pleased me enormously. Perhaps because it is easier to face sentimentality in the warm and thoughtful darkness of a cinema, perhaps because the camera catches and holds brief moments that are lost on the wide canvas of a stage, or perhaps the very niceness of this family of American-Norwegians after the glut of abnormal murderers I have been meeting lately, makes me take this picture unreservedly to my heart. I like to think that America abounds in such families, thrifty, hard-working, with dis- positions as sweet as apples, with braided flaxen hair and slight accents, with problems concerning mastoids and graduation presents and with uncles as original as Mr. Oscar Homolka. On Mama rests the whole burden of living, and Miss Irene Dunne, patient and re- sourceful without being pi, is admirable in the part. The children are not groomed, glamorised or whimsical, but have nice stubby faces and good ugly clothes, and Miss Barbara Bel Geddes deserves the highest praise for her interpretation of an adolescent prone to over- dramatisation.

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The trouble about watching American films about England is that one becomes so engrossed in looking for incongruities that one forgets to pay any attention to the plot or the actors. If Winter Comes is an old sob-story resurrected for Mr. Walter Pidgeon and Miss Deborah Kerr, and it takes place in England during the war. Though the mistakes are not nearly as numerous as they might be, Mr. Victor Saville, who should know better, has left a sufficient number of them lying around to prevent one from believing in the existence of any of the characters. It is possiblt that English ladies occasionally call• each other " old girl," but surely notrso often ? The countryside is perforated with lush hedgeless lanes o'er which the branches of peculiar and far from indigenous bushes stray, and the windows of the train which carries Miss Kerr off to fight for her country are ihuch much too low. Small matters maybe, but they effectively Cripple one's faith in Mr. Pidgeon's anglicisms, though, by uttering them as though his teeth were capped with roast potatoes, he does his best to denote British phlegm. Finally, oh dread anticipation! there is a cricket match • but mercifully, with a wisdom beyond praise,' the producer decided that only one ball should be bowled in this match, a ball that came in with the bowler's arm and went out carrying Mr. Pidgeon's leg stump with it. It is a pity that so much of Mr. Pressburger's adaptation of Grimm's fairy story about the dancing slippers which refused to stop glancing should be, for want of a kinder word, boring. The Red Shoes is a lavish production, splendidly produced in violent but pleasing Technicolor, and it is acted with distinction and danced with abundant grace ; but although, of course, it is always good " theatre " to begin slowly and work up to a climax, in this case the slow movement is so sostenuto that one truly despairs of ever reach- ing the vivace. This, the ballet, is, when it comes, as exciting and as satisfying as you could wish, always provided you are not a purist and demand that your ballets be set on a credible stage of reasonable proportions, and not, as here, bounded solely by the imagination. Miss Moira Shearer and Messrs. Massine and Help- mann pursue Terpsichore through, over and across the most stimu- lating decor we have seen for many a year, and they are well served by the music composed by Mr. Brian Easdale. The more the pity then that this rare and beautiful amalgamation of dancing and colour- photography should be planted like an exotic flower in a desert of