Readers of Mazo de la Roche ought to be warned that Jalna, the current feature at the University, is not an exact reproduction of the book. But for those who can forget their preconceived conceptions of the various characters it is a film both moving and delightful.
The scene opens at Jalna where the Whiteoaks are seated at dinner. As they pass plates of food from one to another around the table their individual traits make themselves felt--the matriarchal acerbity of "gran", the quiet strength and friendliness of Ronny, and the weakness and temperament of young Eden. Before you know it they are all old friends, and their affairs have become important and interesting. To achieve this effect within the first reel or two of a film is quite an extraordinary feat, and one rarely achieved. Not since The Royal Family has it been done so well--in our humble opinion.
David Manners puts a great deal of subtlety and skill into his portrayal of Eden Whiteoaks, the poet; and Kay Johnson as the girl who discovers his poems for a publishing house and fails in love on meeting him is likewise effective.
Especially striking is the way in which they've caught the atmosphere of Jalna. It's something you really feel--an everpresent background to the absorbing doings of the Whitcoaks.
So much for Jalna.
George Raft and Alice Faye, aided and abetted by Patsy Kelly, do the honors in another movie called Every Night at Eight. Us, we don't like George Raft, but the music's good and so is Alice Faye. And Jalna is well worth waiting for.