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The Fine Arts has brought Elisabeth Bergner back to Boston for one week, to retrace her sprightly path of vicissitudes through "Escape Me Never." This picture far better than "Katherine the Great," accounts for the extravagant eulogy that critics are wont to toss to the Continental actress. The chief merit of the story is the abundant opportunities it gives its heroine to be versatile in her emotions.
It is clear from the opening scenes that Miss Bergner is going to have adventures. But it soon develops that she has already had a baby, somewhat obscurely identified. That is the handicap imposed upon her by the script. Furthermore, she is not very handsome. Thus for both artificial and natural reasons, Miss Bergner has great obstacles between herself and convincing her public that she can win and hold securely the affection of an immoral English musician. But she succeeds eminently, and explains clearly how she won an Academy award last year for this performance.
Her most delightful pose, perhaps, is the naively coy. When she threatens her lever, for example, with marrying the big, fat Italian baker who sells her his wares for a pat on the cheek, he very understandably insists that she come along with him to the Dolomites. But she can shake with active fury, as when she finds a letter that her lover-now husband-thought he had destroyed. The pathetic death of her child is largely the product of a deft, gentle touch in the writing. But it would never to so simply affecting if it were not for the piteous way in which the heroine, after having been told by the hospital that her baby is dead, and having been spurned by her distracted husband, comes back to the wards with the threat that her husband is coming soon with a policeman, to force them to relinquish her sick child.
The film is an English one, and the rest of the cast is unfamiliar to American audiences. It gives Miss Bergner most competent and sympathetic support, of which, however, she needs very little. The program is shared with "The Seeing Eye," showing how German shepherd dogs are trained to lead the blind; "Mexican Idyl," a Musical Mood in technicolor, and Fox Movietone News. And then, at 12.45 every day this week, there is to be heard the Shostakovitch Symphony No.1, recorded by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski.
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