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The Moviegoer

At the Fine Arts


One could hardly think of a timelier subject than the effect of war on human relations, but its idyllic treatment in "Ultimatum" is bound to appear somewhat outmoded on the eve of total war. Maybe we have just grown too cynical, maybe in 1914 they still had international courtesy and men who burned to sacrifice their lives for a woman or the fatherland; but particularly when such pre-War idealism is worked into as threadbare a plot as that of "Ultimatum," we may well be permitted to respond with a sad smile.

"Ultimatum" is the story of a Serbian officer and his doting Austrian wife, whom that intangible machine called "statesmanship" stamps as enemies after the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. The love of wife and of fatherland, faith to friend and to country, are pitched into battle: and the results are tragical, as may be expected. But they are not altogether convincing, since it is less the stupidity of war than an all around desire for self-sacrifice which brings about the final catastrophe. The piece de resistance of the show is Eric Von Stroheim's Tentenie skull, which, as Germanophobes will notice to their regret, is not exploited for propaganda purposes. The prototype of the Prussian junker, Stroheim is badly miscast in the role of a Scrbian officer. As far as Dita Parlo, the blonde heroine of the picture, is concerned, there are grounds for assuming that she was beautiful some time ago.

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