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Hollywood puts out a type of comedy that lies somewhere in between the Marx Brothers' slapstick and the more subtle personality humor of the late Will Rogers or the present Bob Benchley. This in-between brand depends mostly on a tricky plot and rapid dialogue, and has lately been dished out in large quantities by the Rosalind Russell-Cary grant team.
"The Lady Eve" has just enough of both slap-stick and character acting to make it a super-streamlised example of the plot-dialogue comedy. Barbara Stanwick can talk as fast as Miss Russell and vary her moods at a pace that approaches La Hepburn. Henry Fonda (as the dumb Eli) takes a script that could easily be overacted and plays it so convincingly that he draws sympathy even from a Harvard man. Preston Sturges, who wrote and directed the film, supplies enough complications for Eric Blore and Charles Coburn to chalk up some masterpieces of professional gypping. The plot concerns the clash between the wits of a female card shark and the charm of a clumsy ophiologist. Enough said.
"Victory," the second feature, successfully rounds out an unusually balanced billing. After an overdose of glamour, sweater, and oomph girls, it's quite refreshing to see a bit of actual acting on the part of the Hollywood female. This time it's quite refreshing to see a bit of actual acting on the part of the Hollywood female. This time it's Betty Field, who will be remembered for her work in "Of Mice and Men," a consummate performance which gave evidence of a new set of acting standards in the movies.
In "Victory" Miss Fields plays the part of a young pianist with a travelling girls' orchestra doing a flock of one-nighters in the Dutch East Indies. To avoid the advances of the male conductor she runs away with Fredric March, to his private island in the Java Sea, only to become involved in a plot which threatens both their lives--a plot made all the more evil in that it comes from the warped mind of a jaded soldier of fortune (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) and his knife-throwing lieutenant (Jerome Cowan).
An exceedingly discriminating adaptation from the Conrad novel and a faultless job of direction, help to make "Victory" one of the better pictures of the year. In addition, the leading roles are backed by a supporting cast whose collective performance ranks with the work of Betty Field and Fredric March. Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Sig Rumann, and Jerome Cowan are given excellent opportunity to demonstrate the value of "type" characters in this sort of movie.
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