19 MAY 1961, Page 22


Grateful Thanks to St. Jude

By ISABEL QUIGLY MacLaine, the patroness of all hopeless cases. teal Every country has its anti-heroine, the charmer tior who gets away, through sheer bounce and It n funniness, with looking and behaving exactly as stal she shouldn't. Giulietta Masina, for instance, is Wit the un-Italian woman, skinny and tomboyish in the a land of voluptuous tigresses. And the dazzlinglY anc un-American Miss MacLaine, anti-smart by tha design rather than inelegant by mistake, holds her Wa own through the sheer absurdity of her appear- nei ance and wainith of her presence. Like Mrs. un Kennedy, she doesn't read the women's maga- in. zines; but unlike Mrs. Kennedy, she looks (as a no rule, and again clearly by design) a mess. But hr what a pleasant and reassuring mess it is—con- re, firming everyone's secret hope that you don't Pa have to look like Kim Novak to get your man— Sc all carroty beatnik hair and a grin of indescrib- able innocent charm, in its comic or pathetic context always more fetching and appropriate H than glamour. th All in a Night's Work, though, for all her k■. presence, looks about a quarter of a century out 01 of date, and the director, as if recognising this, n, has flung together every comic situation in every h sort of comedy style, hoping, I suppose, to hit on a some effective mixture. He doesn't. A paralysing embarrassment seems to grip the actors and, the time I saw it, the audience too. Moments come tl and (luckily) go when you can't be sure what anyone's up to: who means what, who's telling lies or the truth, what in heaven's name the director has in mind. Elderly jokes hobble in, to wheeze a moment and be shuffled out : jokes about a girl in a bath-towel, pursued by the 1 house detective into a lift and leaving the towel behind as evidence; mink coat jokes, night club jokes, provincials in New York jokes, bedroom farce jokes, boss and stooge jokes,' love and marriage jokes, trade union jokes with a Ninotchka flavour, veterinary jokes with a faint whiff of the Marx Brother; even well-upholstered ladies sweeping out of lifts with lordly remarks about Boston. The talented Dean Martin is flung away by the avalanche of banality; but not Shirley MacLaine. Nothing can stop her amiable tough self from establishing itself, from breaking through the most cruelly: dull or actively distasteful occasions; or that extraordinary smile, or those childish eyes, from seeming to turn a faded world fresh, just bY smiling or looking at it. She is an actress of wit and good timing, but, when wit and timing are made almost invisible, she is more than anything an actress of presence. A person, a portent, a joke-in-herself. She inspired a Fourth Leader the other day; she could inspire almost anything.