The Crimson Playgoer
Reviewer Finds Posthumous Drama of Tolstoy's is Well Acted in Difficult Roles
"The Living Corpse", a cinema of Tolstoy's posthumous drama, produced in Russia; is the current presentation at the Fine Arts Theatre. In speaking of almost any weekly program at this theatre which presents either first run films, foreign films, or repetitions of the best films of former years, it is worth while to say that with few exceptions, in comparison with regular moving picture standards, they must be called superlative.
The drama is especially notable in having as one of the most prominent male leads, Vsevelod Pudowkin, whose artistry as a director has been notably displayed in such great productions as "The End of St. Petersburg", and "Storm Over Asia". Mr. Pudowkin as an actor does not create as fine an artistic production as he has done as a director, being too prone to expressionless acting somewhat after the German fashion. He plays the part of a man of moral cowardice and converse moral idealism; he is weak, but altruistic as only a Russian altruist can be.
His wife, who loves him and attempts to regenerate him again and again, and his friend, who loves his wife but also does his best to restore domestic happiness, are the other two main characters of the story. The friend is played by Gustav Diessel, an actor strongly reminiscent of Conrad Veidt, and a worthy rival of the German player. On the whole, the acting is extremely well done, especially so since all the parts are extremely difficult.
The story is one of a spiritual struggle, and its portrayal is therefore stripped of both sexual passion and physical desire. One must allow his mind to be cast in the mood in order to get any great feeling of power from the picture. The direction lags at times, but for the most part would have been worthy of Pudowkin himself, than whom there is no greater. Aside from all ballyhoo, this is a super-production.