Review night at the U.T. gives the fans a chance to view the better offerings of seasons past, and gives the theatre a healthy excuse to get away from the double feature diet. "Kings Row," the feature on the bill tonight, is Warner's adaptation of Henry Bellaman's novel of the frustrated nineties. A suicide per reel in the slower portions, and a neurosis per minute in the more exciting sequences raise the audience to the fast tempo which the picture maintains throughout.
As a whole, the involved and extremely weighty plot moves from crisis to crisis with the urgency of a hurried psychiatrist, weaving a powerful story into the life of an apparently peaceful midwestern town. All the quirks of sociology, all the social problems imaginable in the society of the turn of the century are turned loose in "Kings Row."
The tremendous task of holding up this massive plot falls on the delicate shoulders of boyish Ronald Reagan, pretty Robert Cummings, and beautiful Ann Sheridan. Reagan and Sheridan move effectively through scene after scene of intense emotion, suicide, incest, with amazing restraint. Reagan especially confounds the experts with a sincere portrayal of the cruelly maimed young playboy. Only Bob Cummings, who is entirely too nice a fellow to meddle about in the vagaries of Victorian morality, looks out of place, and his inadequate emotional capacities wreak havoc in the climactic closing shots.
Yet somehow "Kings Row" has an appeal that is unique among the ranks of modern heavies. Hitting at some delicate pillars of accepted conduct, the picture has the force of a sermon well organized, and very well delivered. And the background music of Wolfgang Korngold makes the setting fit the earthy tone of the film.