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The Crimson Playgoer

"Tovarich," with Marta Abba and R. Forster, Brilliant Comedy of Old Russian Charm and Madness

By E. C. B.

There is probably no more difficult part to interpret than that of the beloved old reprobate. Cyril Maude in "Grumpy" and Frank Bacon in "Light-in" acted such roles with distinction and feeling, but they lacked the finished touch of George Arliss in "Old English," now showing at the University. He was, as one of the characters in the movie says, "in the grand old manner."

As in "Disraeli" and "The Green Goddess," the whole plot revolves around the characterization of one man. The details of the story are insignificant. The supporting cast is over-shadowed. The play is no longer the thing. It is carried along by Arliss.

"Old English," the master shipper of Liverpool, has grown old and his power is slipping from him. He is, as a rival so aptly says, with "one foot in bankruptcy, the other in the grave." Yet he struggles to dominate his opponents, to maintain his independence, and to provide for the heirs who are the remnant of an ill-spent youth. It is this struggle that the actor portrays with his usual appreciation and subtlety. "Old English" dies in the end, the victim of his own will, and it is here that the movie falters dangerously. An obsequy held over his dead body by a maid whose speech is the speech of Ireland but whose voice is the voice of the Bowery does much to spoil an otherwise fine climax.

Of the supporting cast, but one has any claims to distinction. The role of "Old English's" illegitimate grand-daughter was spontaneous and intelligent, if a bit conventional. The rest were rather sombre.

The other movie, "Little Accident," will be disappointing to anyone who saw the play. It is little more than an anthology of Hollywood's wise cracks for the last ten years, with a lot of rank acting by Douglas Fair-banks Jr. thrown in.

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