• U.S.

Cinema: The New Pictures: Dec. 12, 1938

3 minute read

Dramatic School (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). In Manhattan last fortnight, critics were delighted by the premiere of Ballerina, which, made in France, concerned itself with the hopes and perplexities of Paris ballet students. In Manhattan this week, critics will have the opportunity of comparing Ballerina with a picture which, made in Hollywood, concerns itself with the hopes and perplexities of Paris drama students. Unlike the moppet personnel of Ballerina, the personnel of Dramatic School are full-grown young actresses. Unlike the cast of Ballerina, mostly made up of real students in the French National Opera school, the cast of Dramatic School are all Hollywood professionals, most notably Luise Rainer and Paulette Goddard.

Hollywood’s champion long-distance emotional gamut-runner, Luise Rainer has a real field day in Dramatic School. Her rich part requires her to twitch out the interpretation of a factory girl so anxious to perfect her histrionic technique that she constantly tells lies so that she will have to practice acting. The part also requires her to run through the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and declaim about the angel voices, as Joan of Arc. Poor little Paulette Goddard—co-starred presumably as part of the build-up for a forthcoming appearance as Scarlett O’Hara—comes off second-best but, as a more sophisticated inmate of the Ecole Nationale des Arts Dramatiques she wears her clothes well and conveys an air of sullen, anti-social charm.

Among Hollywood celebrities, a special niche is reserved for phantom actresses— young women who become internationally celebrated as movie stars without appearing on the screen. In this niche, Paulette Goddard’s place is secure. Until last month, she had appeared in only two pictures. In the first, The Kid from Spain, she was a chorus girl. In the second, Modern Times, she did not talk. Since Modern Times she has maintained an apparently impregnable position in U. S. headlines, first as the centre of the controversy about whether or not she was married to Charlie Chaplin, then as the centre of the controversy about who would play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. Last week the persistent rumor that Paulette Goddard would be Scarlett was again revived, by Roy Howard’s World-Telegram and again denied. Cinemaddicts concluded that, since Gone With the Wind has become practically a phantom picture, Paulette as Scarlett would be good casting to type.

No phantom, Paulette Goddard is actually an amiable little brunette (5 ft. 4 in., weight no) who, born and reared in Great Neck, L. I., entered public life at twelve, as a model for children’s clothes. At 16, she married Edward James, Broadwayite twice her age, whom she divorced five years later. Paulette Goddard prepared herself for her Hollywood phantom career by appearing as a chorus girl in Rio Rita. Her appearance as co-star in Dramatic School is not quite her first since Modern Times. She also made an effective talkie debut in The Young in Heart.

More distinguished than any of her performances thus far as a mere working actress was Paulette Goddard’s farewell performance as a phantom actress. Last winter, after breaking one of her nails, which were almost an inch long, she went about Palm Beach with her finger in a sling.

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