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Off Key


This is an independent column and may not necessarily agree with CRIMSON editorial policy.

Now that moving pictures are the universal diversion of the American people, excepting not even fishing, novel reading, or golf, the function of the cinema critic assumes a peculiar importance. There is no denying the fact that the audience is the best critic, and sometimes it can stay away most expressively, but it lacks the most valuable asset of the professional and individual critic in that it cannot be constructive.

The time has come for someone to rise up in blasphemous heresy and explode the myth that Charles Laughton is infallibly the greatest living actor. For people are being lured in droves to witness his inane eccentricities in "Rembrandt", a passed of foolishness that passes as acting and rides by on the immortal representations of Henry VIII and Captain Bligh; and critics are apparently too stunned to realize that Laughton and Korda can fizzle. In the first place the story is a mere chronological biography possessing practically no dramatic force, and in the second place Laughton's magnificent voice is toned down for at least half the picture to a dismal half-whisper that resembles the sound of a fly trying to crash through a screen door. It is not a great sin for such as Laughton and Korda to fail; the evil lies in refusing to admit the failure and claiming for it new heights of cinematic excellence. It must be said in justice to "Rembrandt" that costuming and photography are excellent, as they always are in Korda films, but someone should tell those who write movie blurbs that a great actor would not appreciate having his worst called his best. PROTAGORAS

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