3 MARCH 1939, Page 21


SPECTATOR] SIR,—Mr. F. P. Bishop's article and Mr. K. L. Bathurst's letter on this subject interested me greatly, and it may interest your readers to know that the influence of the advertiser in the matter of film reviews is very strong indeed in Bombay. There is no theatre here, and amateur dramatic shows are rare events (about one in two years), so one visits cinemas far more often than one would normally do at home. It is hopeless, however, to turn to the Bombay newspapers for any guidance as to the quality of the films being shown at the

numerous cinemas. Good, bad and indifferent, they are all hysterically praised, and it is impossible to attempt to read between the lines of such " puffs." Indeed, it is generally admitted by members of the staff of the most reputable Bombay newspaper that they are not allowed to give honest criticisms of films because the cinema managers would with- draw their advertisements.

it is the invariable custom for Bombay cinemas to show one full-length film only and this is prefaced by a newsreel and a " short." The general level of the " shorts " shown is appalling, yet a word of honest criticism regarding such piffle is never printed.

The result of all this pressure by the cinema managers is that people have to use their own judgement regarding the quality of films, which often results in their being hopelessly bored and exasperated or in their missing a really good film. Films are often shown in Bombay at the same time as they make their first appearance in the West End and thus the London papers' reviews arrive here too late to be of much assistance in helping one to decide whether to visit a certain film or not.

Strangely enough, the only time that a film was damned here in no uncertain fashion was when Green Pastures came to Bombay. The inch-long review in one Bombay news- paper told the reader, in effect, that the negro's conception of God could be of no help or interest to the Indian. Needless to say, such a " criticism " made my friends and myself anxious to see the film, as we guessed it must be superior to the average and we were not mistakin. That was the only time that a " review " was of any help to us !—