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The French Talking Films Committee presented "Le Monde Ou L'on S'Ennuie" last Monday at the Geographical Institute, and will repeat it at 6:30 o'clock next Friday evening.
"Le Monde Ou L'On S'Ennuie" is a charming relic of an almost forgotton period: the 1880's. A drawing-room comedy by Eduoard Pailleron, still in the repertoire of the Comedie Francaise, it suffers, as most plays suffer, in transference to the screen. There are long static scenes of photographed conversation, which must disappoint audiences that have been delighted by the rhythms of Rene Clair. The French have been among the leaders in the development of cinematic art, but the values of the present film are not cinematic. They are entirely those of the text and the acting.
Although the film is played in modern dress, its humor is of another and more gentle age. Among the characters are the "conferencier a la mode", who cannot practice what he preaches; love; the countess whose strennous efforts to uphold the amenities are always failing; the pedantic and bespectacled English girl awkwardly seeking a husband; and many others of a similar comic "genre". The plot is one of clean drawing-room intrigue, arising from the misunderstanding of misplaced letters. And yet in spite of its conventional nineteenth-century machinery, the film is genuinely amusing. The lines are distinguished by their delightful penetration into the incongruities of human character; and they are spoken superbly. As is rare in an American movie, but usual in a French, each character is an individual. The expressive nuances of gesture and intonation, which distinguish French acting, are in delightful abundance. Jeanne Cheirel, a French Alison Skipworth, is gruffly ingratiating as the Duchesse de Treville; Vanda Greville, without being obvious, is uproariously graceless as the English girl, and Jeanne Tissier, playing the lionized love-lecturer, creates a subtle balance between timidity and conceit. All the players live their parts, and are doubly humorous in being unconscious of their humor.
"Le Monde Ou L'On S'Ennuie" is not a milestone in the development of the motion picture; but it is a charming example of a type of French comedy which we seldom see, and we should be grateful to the Talking Films Committee for bringing it to us.
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