As a magician pulls a white rabbit out of a silk hat, so the Fine Arts Theatre seems to pull consistently entertaining pictures out of thin air. "Mill on the Floss" is undoubtedly one of the funniest pictures of the year. It is all the funnier because it sets out to be a soul-searing tragedy of Sophocletian dimensions.
"You have your mother's eyes and hair," says lawyer Wakem to his crippled son. "You loved her very much, didn't you?" counters young Philip, who has dreamy eyes and wavy hair. This is typical of John Drinkwater's dialogue, which deserves special notice, for it is an extraordinary achievement. It contains every cliche or trite observation which was ever concocted out of the English language, and it will probably be used for reference by future generations. Before very many reels have passed, you will catch yourself trying to predict the next lines.
The picture follows George Eliot's book very closely, so some of the more impossible situations in the plot have to be blamed on her Victorian methods of story-writing. When Maggie Tulliver stands in the forbidden embrace of Philip. Brother Tom conveniently hoists himself over a fence in the background. When Maggie breakfasts with Stephen after having spent an unwilling night in his company, she is seen by all and sundry who might like to defame her character. The poor girl doesn't have a chance.
Neither does Geraldine Fitzgerald, who looks very pretty and comports herself acceptably as Maggie. Plus Miss Fitzgerald, the picture contains some very striking characterizations, as well as an excellent feeling for the period. These are the only features which aren't funny.