28 MAY 1948, Page 13


"A Double Life." (Leicester Square.)—" So Evil My Love." (Plaza.)

IT is uncomfortably interesting to see how an actor, so admirable in the modern idiom as to be above criticism, flounders about like a baby in a swimming pool when he is plunged into Shakespeare. In A Double Life Mr. Ronald Colman, as an actor who becomes obsessed in real life by the parts he plays on the stage, retains all the artistry, the charm' the goodness we have found in him these many years as long as he is set in a New York scene ; but it was a double tragedy when Mr. Philip Loeb, as a producer, pressed him so eagerly to take the part of Othello and when, against his better judgement, he accepted the offer. Mr. Colman tries very hard with Othello, but oh the relief, like peace after pain, when he doffs his Moorish trappings and becomes his disarming self again. Not poppy, nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the world bring sweeter comfort. There are no less than five Othello sequences, but fortunately that which lies between fully compensates for the clumsiness of these scenes, and in it there are moments of great brilliance and delicious irony. Miss Signe Hasso is, for the most part, delightful, and it is always refreshing to see a face not patterned on broad American or circular Brit* lines. She is elegant and sophisticated, and her slight Swedish accent alights teasingly on the ear, but for these very reasons Mr. Loeb made another crashing mistake when he signed

her on as Desdemona. It is true that Mr. Colman's hands are constantly encircling her windpipe or else he is endeavouring to kiss her to death, but even in less distracting circumstances I doubt whether Miss Hasso would have made the grade.

In the capable supporting cast there is one gem of characterisa- tion by Mr. Millard Mitchell which is in itself worth a visit ; but indeed much of this film merits attention, much of it is entertaining, and most of it is intelligently directed by Mr. George Cukor. If only Mr. Colman could have been obsessed by some other stage character, some twentieth-century criminal like Dr. Angelus ! 'Tis pity, but I do not expect Mr. Cohnan to agree with me as he has received the Academy Award for his performance in this film. As we have seen but a small proportion of the year's American films it is not for us to judge. * * * * It is a novel sensation, and a highly pleasing one, to be able to recommend a film wholeheartedly and without any reservations. The critics' three favourite words "if only" and " but ' may rest on their pothooks for a line or two, as So Evil My Love merits un- qualified praise. The story is not very new it is true, showing as it does to what lengths a good woman will go to keep the love of a bad man, yet it is related so realistically and is acted so beautifully from first to last that it shines like a good deed in a naughty world. Miss Ann Todd has never been better, blossoming from an aloof young 1866 widow into a warm young mistress with a shyness that is very touching, and when, having at last found love, she fights for it against all she knows to be right and true the battle is writ across her face in unbecoming lines which yet do bear the stamp of flesh and blood. She is well matched by Mr. Ray Milland whose evil seems more weak than wicked, and by Miss Geraldine Fitz- gerald who gives the most sensitive, delicate performance of her career. Mr. Raymond Huntley, harsh for once, Mr. Raymond Lovell and the Misses Martita Hunt, Moira Lister and Muriel Aked add to the lustre of this picture which does credit to its director, Mr. Lewis Allen, and gives reassurance to those whose trust in Anglo- American co-operation was faltering.