The Paramount and Fenway this week offer a balanced diet of harrowing melodrama and rich, lush humor, both clearly above the Hollywood average. And that is praise of a sort, for we do not consider the Hollywood average a butt for sneers of contempt.
"Mary Burns, Fugitive" is in the ancient tradition of gangster films, but gangster films have gone a long, long way since "Scarface". Sylvia Sydney mopes all over the place--which she does very well--and gives us a strongly moving Mary Burns. Allen Baxter is an impressively cold, nerveless killer, albeit slightly too good-looking.
Strong, Stern Stuff
The celluloid capital no longer impairs our morals by glorifying the wicked. For this Allen Baxter dashes all over the country killing people, and still he does not win the hearts of his audience. No one feels the slightest twinge of romantic sorrow when Sylvia Sydney shoots him to death in the scene before she is united to a tweedy author and explorer, Melvyn Douglas.
There is some very melodramatic photoplay in the seascape, which is naturally thrown in as one of the thrills. Long shadows on Seery walls emphasize the night-silence of Paramount's most modern-looking prison set. A dash through the billows to a waiting boat is completely Byronesque; the caged women are terrible in their frustration; practically every scene pertaining to the prison is wonderfully grim. In all, the picture is a stimulating bit of exercise for the emotions.
Sensational and Silly
"$1,000 a Minute" is a delightful farce starring Roger Pryor and Leila Hyams. Roger undertakes to spend $1,000 a minute for twelve hours, to settle a bet between two plutocrats. A yacht, a race horse, a Duesenberg, a mastiff, an elephant, a Trans-continental airplane, a $30,000 fur coat, and sundry other trivial bring the story to the point where Roger has to have $50,000 to buy a tube of radium (a gift to a hospital) and has a capital of only $25,000.
But it takes more than this to stop Hollywood the Magnificent. The race horse wins a race and $25,000 too, and Roger is thus able to spend his very last thousand dollar bill, thereby earring a $10,000 fee. Hilarious. Bring the children. And by all means come yourself, because this picture is really splendidly inane.