At last. Michelangelo Antonioni is an Italian director who has just made his seventh film and who is so highly esteemed abroad that there has already been an Antonioni Festival in London. For the eleven years of his career no Antonioni film has been released here. Now at last comes L’Avventura, which is the sixth of his works. The first ten minutes make it clear that this is the work of a discerning, troubled, uniquely gifted artist who speaks to us through the refined center of his art.
Arthur Miller, in his plays, has done some representative worrying for all of us about certain defects and defeats in contemporary life. Now he has broken a five-year silence with a screenplay called The Misfits in which he expresses further concern. The premise is promising: a Chicago girl goes to Reno for a divorce, and there meets three Western men. She is desperate for reliable human relationships, they are in a last-ditch fight against the diminution of large-scale life.
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence (Grove $6) Thirty-one years after its initial private publication in Italy, the unexpurgated final version of Lady Chatterley's Lover appears in this country. An abridged edition of this version was published here in 1930; the first version (of the three Lawrence wrote) appeared here in 1944. Now the general public may read what has heretofore been available only to contrabandists and scholars with access to locked library shelves. The novel's publication inevitably raises the issue, not only of intrinsic literary merit but of censorship.
Between an audience and a good film a certain confidence is quickly established. This is especially true of comedies. The first two or three minutes are enough to tell you whether a comic film is going to be a dud; the first eight or ten minutes are enough to establish this confidence. In it the audience implies: “We recognize that we are in good hands. Take over.” In addition to the fun the picture provides, there is an extra pleasure in having found a good film and knowing it while you’re enjoying it.
To Catch A Thief is supposed to be a mystery having to do with the exertions Cary Grant must make as a famous jewel thief who has retired and is unjustly suspected of having resumed his vocation. The real mystery is how the product of Hitchcock’s direction, given such care, toil and intelligence, could be so poor. Jessie Royce Landis gives a remarkable performance as the heroine’s mother, and Danielle Lamar is more than remarkable, when the script permits her to be.
It is a serious pity that one can only praise the film version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm as a valuable beginning or experiment, and hardly more than that. For the project, under the sponsorship of Louis de Rochemont, was clearly given the benefit of a great deal of intelligence, devotion and skill, to say almost nothing of the amount of money involved. The reviews in the daily newspaper have already pronounced the damnation of faint praise upon the film with a genuine kindness which will serve no purpose and certainly will not help at the box office. One can only hope that Mr.
Some West German film producers are talking about making movies especially for the American market—another sign of industrial vitality, we may suppose. A few interesting German films have tried to buck the post-war indifference towards things German here: The Blum Affair, and Die Pledermaus, for example. But like most of the British, French and Italian films whose US success the Germans envy, these were made first and most of all for audiences in their own country.
The liberal, as we understand it, is the person who sincerely wants as many of the good things of this world for his fellow man as he does for himself. His credo is the Bill of Rights (still a very revolutionary document), the Roosevelt Bill of Human Rights, the Truman Civil Rights Program, and all legislation stemming from them.
Faithful to its responsibilities and unintimidated by the constables of church or state, the picture industry continues to battle on the social barricades. In this summer of coups d’etat, assassination, war and the threat of war, Hollywood has discovered that crime never pays and that history has inflicted a vile libel on the memory of the American Indian. The alarming message sent us by J. Edgar Hoover in the preface to “The Street with No Name” is that America is threatened by gangsterism of unprecedented ferocity.
Laurence Olivier’s spectacle-film, Henry V, is a sparkling armor-and-woolen-goods movie about a glorious English leader (Olivier), his smashing, upset victory over the French (who had too much armor, too few archers) in 1415, and his lightning courtship—made up of tricky, beautiful talk and vaudeville—of the French princess Katherine (Renée Asherson). Henry V is a great deal more than almost any other hell-bent-for-armor movie that you’ve seen.