THIS IS A TIME of storm and smoke; of darkness, as Carl Sandberg found the time of Lincoln to be. Death is in the air. So is birth. Within the body of our wartime world we can feel the life of the future stirring. Beneath the sound of the guns, we can hear its first, protesting cries. In fury, all the forces of the past are raining their blows upon it. We bear it fearfully, seeking to shield and cherish it. Yet we forget the astonishing strength of the will to live with which all forms of life come into being. We stand in shyness before the future that we carry within us.
I have been on this pitch for quite a long time, and now I should like to inquire why we as the nation which produces the movies should never have developed any sound school of movie criticism. That we haven’t is obvious; read your papers. Why we haven’t is probably owing to the ineradicable ignorance in theatricals of the ordinary writing hack, and to the fact that the ordinary reviewer on a newspaper or magazine is traditionally an amiable chump who has been kicked upstairs.
The Maltese Falcon is the first crime melodrama with finish, speed and bang to come along in what seems ages, and since its pattern is one of the best things Hollywood does, we have been missing it. It is the old Dashiell Hammett book, written back in the days when you could turn out a story and leave it at that, without any characters joining the army, fleeing as refugees or reforming bad boys, men or women.
The American occupation of Iceland and the substantial American forces sent to Trinidad and British Guiana are grand good news. They mean that he giant of the Western World is at last rousing him-self from his long, almost fatal lethargy and is preparing to fight for his way of life. Iceland in German hands would be a great danger to American security, It could control North Atlantic shipping so as to make supplies to England almost impossible.
Mr. Shakespeare of the GlobeBy Frayne Williams New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 596 pages. $5. The biographical part of this book will not disappoint the imaginary not-too-bright giant for whom blurbs are fattened and human interest lavishly spread. Surely, there must be something very attractive in the illusion Mr. Frayne Williams tries hard to keep up, namely, that environment can be made to influence a poet once it is neatly deduced from his works. "No poet," he says, "can be comprehended without estimating his attitude toward marriage." How very true!
The Lease-Lend Bill will pass; the important question is how soon and with what modifications. Passage without change of a word or a comma three months or even six weeks from now might be worth less than passage in a few days with alterations. The President has therefore been wise to consult with congressional leaders and consent to changes that do not alter the essence of the measure. Other amendments will be offered in both House and Senate.