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Stage and Screen < Motor, Aviation, News and Gossip Radio Programs Part 4—8 Pages___ WASHINGTON. I). SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 6, 1931. dEAN HARLOW 'PLATINUM BLpNDf e AK.LB WALLACE FORD' and SALLY BLANE *X MARKS the SPOT"' FOX C-EORGE BANCROFT if • UlCH MAN'S FOLLY' ? PA u AC. E MARY PHILIPS 'i ¥ THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL" BELASCO SketiK'J by 5uadutK. CEDRIC HARDWICKE and BEATRIX COMSON •the DR.EYFUS CASE"— MET KOPOt-ITAN Year’s “Ten Best Plays” And an Actor's Important Part in Creating a Success An Interview With Otis Skinner—Playgoers Con cerned With What Pleases Them Individually. Preservation of the Great Actor. By W. H. Landvoigt. TO the critic profoundly rich in the knowledge born of long experience and his general efficiency in pick ing out the moth-eaten spots in plays that have come under his scrutiny it may be easy to sur vey the productions of a season and calmy designate "the 10 best plays." This "10-best play” habit is of movie origin, but now its i contagion has reached the legit imate theater. The voice of au thority rings the bell and all the little voices chime in with an ec static emulation that creates a harmony which sweeps the ordi nary theater patron off his feet, however securely they may be planted in the earth. There is no disputing an erring guess. You must take it or leave it, for when it appears in cold print the mat ter is definitely settled. Often, however, in the metropolitan journals, rather than elsewhere, one occasionally finds a voice cry ing in the wilderness that has the audacity to give reasons why the experts are all wrong. And some times these stray post-mortems are quite clear and convincing. It doesn’t matter much to the world, however, which, as a rule, simply rolls over in its armchair and comments more or less upon the entertaining qualities of the arguments, pro and con, without concern as to the ultimate deci sion. Playgoers, like the picture patrons, are concerned only with what pleases them individually, and that settles the matter so far as they are concerned. RECENTLY. it seems, Prof. Wil liam Lyon Phelps of Yale, an eminent guide to the good things to be found in the theater, named a scant dozen of the nroductions that thus far have delighted New York. His list includes "The Bar retts of Wimpole Street.” with Katharine Cornell; the Norman Bel-Geddes production of "Ham let"; “Grand Hotel,” "Julius Cae sar,” "Hamlet” and "The Mer chant of Venice,” as presented by the Chicago Civic Co , including Fritz Leiber and Helen Menken: "Mourning Becomes Electra,” "Payment Deferred.” with a su perb English actor. Charles Laughton; "Streets of New York,” m a side-splitting old-fashioned melodrama; "The Guest Room,” "The Roof," Galsworthy’s play, "admirably produced and acted,” and “School for Scandal,” with Ethel Barrymore. Five of these well recommended entertain ments "have succumbed for lack of audiences,” and among the five are the Norman Bel-Geddes "Hamlet.” Ethel Barrymore’s "School for Scandal.” "The Roof,” Galsworthy’s p'.ay, and "Payment Deferred.” which, however, is to make a try for existence in Chi cago. Dr. Phelps is a "booster,” not a “knocker," according to Percy Hammond, and, perhaps, that was why he had no remarks to make concerning at least a dozen other plays more or less well recommended by the critics who reviewed them in the metrop olis. But even nine of them, to gether with the Fritz Leiber Shakespearean company, have disappeared from the New York map, some with the hope of sur vival elsewhere and others to hope no more Among these are "The Good Comnanions,” "The House of Connelly." "The Lady With a Lamp" and—old-timers, would you believe it?—“Naughty Marietta,” an Erlanger enter prise. * * it * \ RECENT interview with Otis Skinner, by William Engle, a staff writer of the New York World-Telegram, really classic in the beauty of its unl'oldment, pointed out a truth uttered by Mr. Skinner, who at 73. enjoys a distinction in the American thea ter that is safe beyond the reach of envious rivals. “The play wright,” says Mr. Skinner, “shows the way. and the actors create the play." Continuing, Mr. Skin ner said: “There’s always some thing creative in putting on a play. It's the actor's work to make it live, breathe and stand on its own feet. You might say he builds the fireplace, puts in andirons, piles the wood; but it’s up to you i the actor i to make the fire. If it doesn't burn, it may be because the wood is green, or the fireplace is defective.” R may be well for the playgoer or movie patron who is seriously interested in theatrical enter tainment to let this observation sink deeply into remembrance, j°L ^ will help in solving many difficulties in determining why some plays are extolled when they seem to be filled with faults for which others have been con ( *.?■?** Critics of the New York Drama Come in for Their Share of Very Harsh Words No Result From a Heated Debate on That Subject. The Tb eater Situation Around Times Square. A Few Real Successes. By Percy Hammond. Dudley field malone in a debate with John Anderson last week accused the New York drama critics of offenses ranging from sabotage to mayhem. Mast of them, said he, are ignorant, prejudiced, wise-cracking and stuck-up—a hindrance to the drama, rather than a help. Although himself a practitioner and advocate of “con structive criticism.“ he suggested no real remedies for the situation. And he sniffed at Mr. Anderson’s sane be lief that a reviewer’s chief duty is to the patrcns of the theater, not to its employes—to appraise results, not to tutor authors, actors and producers. Mr. Malone being a sagacious counsel or as well as one of the drama’s most affectionate followers, should know that the evil he rails against could be eradi cated overnight All the managers have to do is to forbid us vandals from attending their exhibitions. The law permits them to refuse admittance to displeasing persons, and why they do not exerctee that privilege more fre quently is their own fault, not that of the reviewers, "if you will promise to write a puff we’ll let you in," they can say, ' otherwise the gates are shut." * * * * DROADWAY’S casual funeral bells were tolled last we k over the pass rng of 11 plays, a number not often demiied. It will enable some folks also to determine whether, af^*r all, Shakespeare was right in saying, “The play’s the thing ” if he meant that the actor didn’t count in the matter. New York is too well seasoned to tolerate bad acting. That is why “the original cast is so strongly de manded by the hinterland. The original cast is certain to contain good actors. It also discloses why the way of doing things on the stage often determines whether that thing is offensive or not The acting of the Lunts, for in stance, in "The Reunion in Vienna, splendidly illustrates why superb acting saved an other wise inferior play and caused it to be ranked with the most de lightful offerings of the season. then,' the actor counts for so much in the theater, is it good policy to let him fade out of ex istence? Age ultimately kills off everything human, and slowly but surely the great players of the theater are passing away. Cer tainly it is a matter of concern to keep the players, who make the play ever competent, ever at their highest pinnacle of theatric art. And what are our producing managers, who have made their living out of them, some of them their fortunes, done to protect the succession of acting ability and efficiency? What Ire the? doing today? The theater lives ”} it- actors, not in its plays Magnificent character portrayals by the actors have done more than anything else to k«en th» immortal Shakespeare high in the heaven of the literary world £n idol of classic luster on the sta^e through the centuries when “thenvise even he might have faded and passed out from the mind of man. The preservation of the great actor is possible only in the legitimate theater for there and there only you will find I exceeded in the street’s mortuary rec : ords. Some of them had a right to live longer—“Payment Deferred’’ and I 'The House of Connelly,” for instance— but others deserved the knell and the shroud. One of them, “In Times Square,” especially earned its gate, it was such a shabby insult. I suspect | that every innocent person who went | to see it in hope of entertainment registered a vow never again to go to j r. theater. There has been scores of similar infirmities this season, crippled and idiotic menaces to the prosperity of the stage. I wish that the Actors’ Equity Association, the theater's most p:werful supervisor, would extend its i discipline in protection of audiences as 1 well as performers. It demands that producers deposit a bond to insure the j payment of wages and salaries. But it ; is indifferent to the welfare of the actor's b?st friend, the playgoer. Why not give him a chance, Mr. Gillmore, and save him from such things as j "Tire Venetian," “Hot Money,” "Miss i Gulliver Travels” and “Marriage for | Three"? Equity should establish a cen | sership to prohibit the producers frrjn making fools of themselves and their j customers. * * * * .^BOVE the sobs of Times Square's failures is to be heard the laughter of success. Alex Woollcott, a former | drama critic, is causing buttons to I burst and sides to split by his cordially cynical observations in the witty Mr. Behrman's synthetic comedy, "Brief Moment." Ed Wynn, the first clown, turns ennui into gay enthusiasm by his clean, legitimate and irresistibly I funny antics in "The Laugh Parade”; ; and it is said that joy is unconfined at j The Band Wagon.” "The Cat and the Piddle.” Mr. White’s "Scandals” and Mr. Carroll’s "Vanities.” Miss Ruth Gordon i; amusing many people at the Playhouse in a sweetmeat entitled "A Church Mouse”; and Miss Helen Hayes is enlivening her public as a sirupy and fanciful demi-rep in Mr. Molnar’s | side show, "The Good Fairy.” I re- j fuse to be gloomy about the state of the drama in Times Square, so long as , the serene Miss Katherine Cornell con tinues to turn them away from “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” and there is an audience for Mr. Merivale and Miss Adrian Allen in "Cynara." In case you. think the stage is dying, try to make your way through the frenzied line in front of the Theater Guild's box office and plead for a ticket to "Mourning Becomes Electra.” Wl at else is there to talk about this morning? Little if anything, except the brazen burlesque shows in and around Broadway and Forty-second street. How' they get away with their vulgarities is a question to be asked of Mayor Walker or Mr. Mulrooney, his police commissioner. 1 Stage and Screen Attractions This Week ♦ ____ BELASCO—“The House Beautiful.” Opens tomorrow evening. NATIONAL—“Mr. Whistler.” Opens tomorrow evening. GAYETY—“Jimmie Lake’s Own Show” (burlesque). This after noon and evening. ON THE SCREEN. EARLE—“Platinum Bionde.” This afternoon and evening. FOX—“X Marks the Spot.” This afternoon and evening. PALACE—“Rich Man’s Folly.” This afternoon and evening. R-K-O KEITH’S—“Are These Our Children?” This afternoon and evening. RIALTO—“Frankenstein.” This afternoon and evening. COLUMBIA—“The Champ.” This afternoon and evening. METROPOLITAN—“The Dreyfus Case.” This afternoon and evening. f ERIC LINDEN and AR.LINE JUDGE *AR.E THESE OUR. CKILDREN'-Xf/rx'J Drastic Salary Slashes For the "Cinema Giants” One Th eory of Picture- Mak ing Is Favored by Wall Street—The System of Hollywood Salaries and Change to Be Made. By Mollie Merrick. HOLLYWOOD, Calif., December 5. —The motion picture's year of reckoning would seem to be at hand. Unless the prophecies of those statisticians who are howling calamity from the house tops thes i days are entirely in the WTong, it will be a hard pull for some of the producers merrily grinding out gelatin entertainment to keep their heads above water under present conditions. It is the unanimous agreement of all interested in the manufacture of talk ing pictures that Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer, directing the destinies of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, have made the most brilliant record for suc cesses in picture production during the past year. This opinion would seem i to be more than strengthened by the j New York banking crowds, meeting in executive session, and voting unani mously on the ability of this team. Some time ago in these columns I gave the inside story of Irving Thal berg's theory of picture making—names backed by sound stories. But first and foremost capitalizing personalities to the world. That this method of pro cedure has had the most startlingly successful results the action of New York bankers proves. But the Thalberg method has been successful only from the standpoint that he has backed his personalities with good stories and good dialogue. Other studios have had box office per sonalities. But they have filled their mouths with utterly unusable lines and put them in such silly situations and I backed by such flimsy drama that they j could not survive. In the other stu i dios of Hollywood where conditions far | from rosy prevail, drastic cuts in sal | ary for everybody not bound by union wages must come about. These cuts, far from the 20 per cent or the odd dollar cuts of the past year, will be from 25 to 50 per cent, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. There has prevailed in Hollywood a system of wage-paying disproportionate to the product given producers. Actors ‘ advised'’ to accept slight cuts last sea son are up against the alternative of taking heavy cuts gracefully this year or working out their contracts under the signed agreements only to discover that other producers will never offer them more than the amount mentioned under the reduction regime. 11115 sounds depressing, but past experience has taught actors that when producers get together there is a unity of pur pose that is unbreakable. Directorial salaries during the com ; ing year will be slashed to the bone. ! There are some 10 directors in Holly wood who are worth every penny of the money paid them for carrying stories through to triumphant conclu sions. The art of writing in gelatin is a gift not distributed widely. To those who have it in perfection fabu lous sums are paid. Half a million a picture has been given an artist for making a box-office smash out of what could be a very ordinary picture. So these giants of the cinema will, possibly, not feel the pressure of the wage cut. But the director who is earning anywhere from $800 a week to $5,000 will possibly find himself bring ing in exactly one-half of last year’s i income. The author situation in Hollywood has been peculiarly difficult to handle. Authors who formerly wrote novels and accepted a $500 advance from publish ers, content that they were being treat ed in a princely fashion, sat down and waited for their percentage to come in quite happily. Those same authors have been given the habit of the thousand or two thousand a week Hol lywood salary, whether or not the thing they are writing is usable for pictures when it is completed. Holly wood^—and the motion picture indus try—are alone responsible for turning that industry into a racket and they will be the ones to suffer from the dissatisfaction of their people and the j dissension in the ranks when the exist- [ ing financial conditions of the earth force them to turn the racket back into ! an industry with stabilized salaries once j again. Producers will tomorrow take time j to find out who they are hiring. There j will be no white elephant stories bought with closed eyes. And players who once ! accepted Broadway salaries of three to ! five hundred a week will not expect to J come here and get five thousand for j doing poorer work. (Copyright. 1931. by the North American I Newspaper Alliance, Inc.) I RICHARD HALE * MR-. WHISTLER." \ NATIONAL X - T\ 1 JACKIE COOPER. •the CHAMP^COLUMO/A -— Mr. Chaplin Determines To Play the Heroic Role Of Warrior N. Bonaparte So the W oriel May Lose Its Favorite Clown—The Comedian, Now in London, Is Reported to Be Planning His Stage Production. By E. de S. Melcher. Naboleon has long been on the mind of Charles Chaplin. Just as he has bothered other acting folk since they began to be cradled in emotion. This great tragic tragedian i Napoleon, that is), whose marital, continental, tri umphal and digestional trou bles made him great in the eyes of the world, has har rowed more thespians by his memory than any other pow er of history. The sad thing is that Shakespeare couldn’t have dropped around during his life time and written him in his grease-paint annals for the edi fication of theatrical posterity. If, for instance, Napoleon could have uttered, “To be—or not to be,” he would, no doubt, be more popu lar today than he is. Mr. Chaplin is said to be giv ing up the films in favor of evok ing a flesh-and-blood “Nappie.” He has threatened to shake the dust of Hollywood from his cross eyed feet and to jump headlong into something as eloquent as New York's Theater Guild. After years and years and years of making people laugh, he will, per haps, attempt tq make them cry (since Mr. Bonaparte was said not to be a particular laugh king), and he will appear in a tri-cor nered hat, with hand thrust through the portals of his coat and intone, “On to Elba,” or, per haps, some other lugubrious dittv. n seems rather a shame that just at this particular hour, when people would give anything to be able to smile, that Hollywood’s chief maestro of the laugh should turn to drama. It sounds almost as bad as if Will Rogers should suddenly announce that he will write a daily ode for the papers. This because, while Chaplin may have the heart and soul and all the great abilities of a fine dra matic actor, he is still the most successful of clowns and the one who has done the most in one continued vein to making the films light, silly and wonderfully digestible entertainment. Mr. Chaplin, who grew out of a London fog and has recently been back, in it, has, of course, had his “legitimate” experience. At a tender age he played “Billy” in a production of “Sherldfek -! Holmes,” when that gentleman was the idol of Trafalgar square. | And he has had his hand at di- | recting pictures other than the ! hilarious ones centered around his j own person. But this age knows I him as “the great Chariot” (this I in Paris), and he has delighted the young and old by being his , own ridiculous self. ^ * * * * pERHAPS, the London fogs have removed his sense of humor Certain it is that the sudden im i pulse to give way to Napoleon j came to him while browsing admid his tea and scones. At any rate, this comic virtuoso has written two full acts of a Na poleonic saga which has to do, it is said, with that familiar legend of Bonaparte’s escape from St. Helena and of his ultimate com i ing to 'the United States. Does Mr. Chaplin think that there lingers among us now (and I certain of the old regime do) a | full-fledged offspring of the great I little general? Is there a L’Aig i Ion hiding down in New Orleans? ! Or a great-grandson selling bonds on Wall Street? Is this play go ing to reveal Auntie Zilch—ugly. , plain, unpopular Auntie Zilch. I whom the relations always j frowned upon—as the bearer of neo-noble blood, as the direct descendant of all sorts of crowned heads, who has hidden Napoleon ic jewels in her stockings for years? If there is to be the escape from St. Helena and subsequent excite ments there would, of course, be no Josephine. And that seems rather too bad. There haven't ; been many notable ones on the stage, and even less on the screen. Who would be a good one these days? How about dark-eyed Kay Francis? Wouldn’t she give Na poleon a good run for his money? Kay Francis and Charlie Chap lin! Well, the latter will have to eat a lot to look like Napoleon, and he will have to grow frowns on his brow, and a slightly hooked nose in the bargain. But is it to be straight drama, or deep dyed melodrama, or a Milnesque whimsy on the Emperor’s later cavortings? The film world won ders—and so do we all. Please, Mr. Chaplin, a statement! * * * * \y HILE traditional characters of filmland are deserting their homeland, it seems as though Washington had seen several young actors recently (more than actresses, perhaps, al though the “Follies” ladies were not to be sneezed at) who would be particularly valuable to the screen. Has, for instance, that gentleman who gave such a stir ring performance in “The Crim inal Code” and who was seen here a week or so ago witn the slightly overebulient Mae West Russell Hardie, done anything on the screen—and if not, why not? And also has Robert Douglas, whom Francine Larrimore snatched out of the very teeth of London, been given a try before the camera? Since it is evident that day by day in every way the old order is giving way to the new, it seems as though these two clever actors might give it a good boost. Fur thermore, these columns guaran tee that they will be blazing forth in screen lights before the next season is passed. As for Alexan ier Woolcott, he could certainly jive the Marx Brothers something to t^ink about. So why doesn't he?