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After walking into the exact middle of the presentation of "His People", we have been mulling over this question of continuous movies. And it has occurred to us at length that the amount of enjoyment is proportionate to the number of reels still unshown at the moment of entrance. Actually this is not quite true, for a great many of our current movies can be divided into integral parts without any appreciable loss of interest. It is the producer's job to bring his story to a climax and at the same time allow the transient audience to catch on all the way along the line. D. W. Griffith is quite sound in his belief that this hap-hazzard method of presentation hampers the artistic advance of motion pictures immeasurably.
And so having seen the worst half of "His People" first, and the first part last, we found it a tolerably dull production. From advance notices, we know that others in better authority caught the thrill of this little Jewish household and admired the skill of Rudolph Schildekraut in the leading part. Mr. Schildekraut's work was always effective, but the direction is not equal to the task of stressing one character. We are thinking now of "The Last Laugh" in which everything was subordinated to the person of Emile Jannings in the guise of an old wash-room attendant. Director Murnan by keeping him continually, before the camera game him a chance to reach the hearts of his audiences. American direction with the same opportunity buried Mr. Schildekraut in a pile of uninteresting detail.
"Seven Sinners" is not as important as Mr. Schildekraut's troubles in the Ghetto, but it is far more readily appreciated. Miss Prevost is given a chance to display her saucy mischievous talent in a hectic tale of thieves and thievery. Mr. Brook in his calm imperturbable way is called upon to sleep below a dripping shower in the bath-tub. There are momentary chances for Lubitsch subtlety which are ignored. But the direction has added instead a dash of slapstick. Only one character in the picture is honest, and he turns out to be a policeman, which is a good enough joke in itself to show the irresponsible tendencies of the whole production. Along towards the end, however, just when we had hopes of witnessing a college between the crook waltress and the more crooked butler, the picture suddenly went frightfully mushy. Everybody developed a conscience, forsook the honest profession of thievery, and left this department with somewhat of that same feeling of sentimental lunacy that is brought on by a few notes of "That Letter Edged in Black." We haven't found out whether this softening was a final burst of satire or merely a little nosegay from Will Hays.
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