24 JANUARY 1936, Page 17

" Koenigsmark." At the Tivoli.--" The Three Musketeers."

• At the Plaza.—"I Give my Heart." At the Regal IT hasn't been a good' week for films and none of these three has any real value, but I enjoyed the first, because it is well acted and well directed ; there are moments in the second -of rather exhilarating freedom of movement, curiously rare on the screen, when the musketeers gallop through the woodlands on their dangerous mission, and the third is about the vulgarest film which has ever come out of Elstree. There is really nothing to be said at all for this film version of The Dubarry, a musical play written and made with smug hypocrisy.

There is only One possible " subject " in the Dubarry's life, the same subject that produced the angry satire of our own Restoration poets against " the royal Cully " :

"The Misses take place, and advance to bo Duchess,

With pomp great as Queens in their Coach and six Horses; Their bastards made Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and Lords .

It is a subject. which can only be treated morally, for its only interest• is a moral one. This film. has the skittish, coy vulgarity of a., book like Nymph Errant. You know quite well why the subject has been chosen : the milliner's love affair with a poor poet, her promotion to a house of ill fame (of course, she doesn't realise where she is and thinks she is at a gay party), her marriage with Dubarry, who sells her to the King ; the sexual subject is meant to attract, but the makers have not the courage of their pornography, the titillation is whimsically, prettily, sentimentally disguised. And so we have the climax of the film, when the Dubarry comes to the poet, who is rousing the rabble against her, and tells him that she truly• loves the King. Then all is sweetness and tenderness and triumph. . . .

The Three Musketeers is not much more truthful, I suppose, but the fun is more hOneit.- It -is a long time since I read the book, and-so -I found the odd romantic polities, which all turn on a piece of jewellery- the Queen of France has given to the Duke of Buckingham, rather difficult to follow. Even the tortuous mind of Richelieu. could have conceived no intrigue quite so complex as Dumas'. But the film, when it leaves Constance, D'Artagnan's rather tame Victorian betrothed, behind in Paris,- is agreeably exciting in quite the manner of the old Westerns : galloping horses, last-minute rescues and a most seductive villainess acted by Miss Margot Grahame. It left me wondering how it was that Dumas, with the help of an American director, had caught so deftly the English public school atmosphere—or rather the English public school as it is reflected by a sympathetic and senti- mental writer. When the film wasn't Western, it was authentic Stalky.

But Koenigsmark I did enjoy, a Ruritanian film made by a French director. A royal tutor in a small German estate, investigating the story of Koenigsmark's death, discovers the lime-stripped skeleton of the Grand Duke, who had been put out of the Way some years before by his brother and who was supposed to have died in Africa. The tutor and the Grand Duchess, under the eyes of spies, work together to bring the' brother to justice. The director has enjoyed the pomp of royal processions and has transmitted his innocent enjoyment, and Miss Elissa Landi acts the Grand Duchess with great spirit. Miss Landi has never before quite lute.' up to her beauty and obvious intelligence, but here she has shared the director's enjoyment of the exciting bogus decorative film. There is one excellent moment, when the Grand Duchess and the tutor are resting in a hunting lodge and the woman hears a spy rustle in the bushes outside. She takes a gun from the tutor's hands, on the pretext that it will look well if they take some dead animal back with them, and ruthlessly shoots dOwn her maid-in-waiting ; then she quotes hamlet with grim satisfaction : " I took thee for thy better." It is melodrama, of course, but at any rate it is melodrama of a less conventional kind than we are used to one natural human strand of cruelty has. been twisted into the usually immaculate character of a heroine.