18 JANUARY 1957, Page 22

Unconscious Humour

JUST occasionally you meet a film so outrageously, exuberantly and felicitously bad that it brings happy tears to the eyes. Such a film has " turned up this week and for a jolly low-brow evening's entertainment I can warmly recommend it: Zarak. Zarak is a bandit on the North-West Frontier and is played by Victor Mature with a beard. He becomes a bandit after his fat father finds him kissing Anita Ekberg (his—the fat father's—favourite wife) and, under- standably enough, sends him packing. After years of happy banditry in the hills, involving mail coaches and cosy camp fires, an English major (Michael Wilding with a moustache) comes out to catch him. Adventures, in which all the best points of Robin Hood, Tarzan, Hopalong Cassidy, Ali Baba and the Goldwyn Follies are to be found, pile up fast, until finally Zarak and the major find themselves on (more or less) the same side; or at least both opposing the same enemy. To save the major's life (Mr. Wilding is• about to be minced—very literally, it appears— with what look like enormous cut-throat razors), Zarak offers himself as bait, suggesting airily that they flog him to death, a slow and disagreeable process that will make time (though of course no one realises) for help to arrive. The ending is dewy : Miss Ekberg in a pink sari, looking more than ever like an outsize cochineal meringue, drooping across a tombstone suitably inscribed by the major. The ways of film-makers are strange : to this delightful film the press, a kindly body that would have responded uproariously, was in- hospitably not invited. • 'Well,' I said to the authorities mildly, 'I suppose it won't get men- tioned in the press.' We've had plenty of mentions, thank you,' they said, with a disdain only Joyce Grenfell could do justice to; and I believe—what with Miss Ekberg and the posters and the premiere and the rest of it—they have. • By comparison Teenage Rebel seems, though it isn't, a model of good sense and decorum; with Ginger Rogers as the harassed parent. From the title, a glance at My Teenage Daughter of a few weeks back, and a little general knowledge of the way film-makers' minds work, you can guess exactly what happens.

Revivals are the only thing of any but irreverent interest this week : at the Academy, in a magnificent programme, the twenty-one-year- old Hungarian Hortobagy, which many people saw some years ago but is well worth a second visit, and the enchanting Summer Manoeuvres of Rent Clair; at the Everyman, Hampstead, a season of films taken from the works of contem- porary American writers : Streetcar this week, directed (like Baby Doll) by Elia Kazan; Death of a Salesman, starting on Monday, January 21; The Member of the Wedding. starting on Mon- day, January 28.