• U.S.

Cinema: The New Pictures, Aug. 4, 1952

6 minute read

Affair in Trinidad (Columbia) brings ambrosial Rita Hayworth back to the screen as a Trinidad nightclub entertainer who is described as “a woman with a capital W.” This sentiment is roundly endorsed by Glenn Ford, who plays the older brother of Rita’s husband, an artist found dead under mysterious circumstances. Another admirer of Rita’s is suave Alexander Scourby, a tycoon who keeps mad dogs on his estate and is given to poring over super-rocket plans in the company of various gentlemen with Iron Curtain accents.

Before Affair in Trinidad has run its course, a good many of these parties have been eliminated by being hit over the head, run down by automobiles, stabbed and shot. In between, Rita shakes her mop of lustrous hair and undulates her silken torso as she sings such numbers as Trinidad Lady and I’ve Been Kissed Before. If the moviegoer has a feeling that he has seen all this before, it may be because Affair in Trinidad bears a marked resemblance to the 1946 Hayworth-Ford picture Gilda.

Ivanhoe (MGM) makes a rousing medieval horse opera out of Sir Walter Scott’s most popular novel.* Set in the chivalric days of Norman-Saxon rivalry in 12th century England, the story is a blend of historical fact and romantic fiction about the Saxon Knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who helped King Richard the Lionhearted reclaim the throne usurped by his villainous brother Prince John and the Norman traitors while Richard was away at the Crusades. In the course of his adventures, Ivanhoe also champions the black-eyed Jewess Rebecca, falsely accused by the Norman conspirators of sorcery, and wins the blonde Saxon Lady Rowena.

Staged in authentic British locales by Director Richard Thorpe, Ivanhoe is at its best in its spectacular action sequences: Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor), resplendent in black armor on a black charger, splintering lances with five Norman knights in the lists at Ashby; Ivanhoe championing the persecuted Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) against Norman Templar de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders) in a savage battle with hand ax and mace & chain to the neighing of horses and the funereal beating of drums; the flaming assault on Torquilstone castle, where Rowena (Joan Fontaine) is held captive by the sneering Sir Hugh de Bracy (Robert Douglas), with thousands of Saxon archers hurling themselves across the moat and swarming up the granite-grey walls while the Normans shower boulders down on them from the battlements.

As Ivanhoe, Robert Taylor makes a parfit gentle knight and troubadour, while Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine are the very models of ladies fair. Supporting them are some polished character actors: Emlyn Williams as Ivanhoe’s faithful Squire Wamba, Finlay Currie as Ivanhoe’s father Cedric, Felix Aylmer as the patriarchal Isaac of York, father of Rebecca, and a whole host of Normans and Saxons, knights and squires, lords and ladies and kings and commoners from the days when knighthood was in flower.

Jumping Jacks (Hal Wallis; Paramount) continues the service misadventures of Comics Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Having already created havoc in the Army (At War with the Army) and the Navy (Sailor Beware), they now inflict their frantic talents on the airborne infantry.

When Dean is drafted, he smuggles his civilian song & dance partner Jerry into the paratroops with him to help put on a company camp show. Jerry, posing as a paratrooper (in a trick breakaway uniform), all but breaks up the division by asking his sergeant to tuck him into bed, captures a general during maneuvers, jumps from a plane without his chute and lands on Dean’s parachute in midair. The screenplay of Jumping Jacks is lighter than air, but the picture may divert those moviegoers who relish Dean’s singing and Jerry’s uninhibited simiantics.

Fearless Pagan (MGM) is a circus lion that tangles with the U.S. Army. When Pagan’s owner (Carleton Carpenter) is inducted, he cannot bear to part with his playful pet, and secretly puts him up in a cage on the Army post. This leads to complications involving a hard-boiled sergeant (Keenan Wynn), an apoplectic colonel (Wilton Graff) and a visiting movie star (Janet Leigh). All ends happily, with Janet and Carleton finding love, and Fagan finding a home in Hollywood. The fadeout shows Fagan, majestically poised on a diving board, leaping into a movietown swimming pool.

The original story, co-authored by Sidney Franklin Jr. and TIME Writer Eldon Griffiths, is based on Griffiths’ 1951 LIFE report about the real-life adventures of Floyd C. Humeston, who did a circus wrestling act with Fagan, had brought the lion up from a cub and slept in the same bed with him. When Humeston was drafted, Fagan was adopted by the Monterey

County Humane Society near Fort Ord, Calif., where Humeston was stationed. During the making of the movie, Private Humeston was given leave to accompany Pagan to Hollywood. As scripted by Charles Lederer, directed by Stanley Donen and pleasantly performed, Fearless Pagan is a merry little romp, with the lion’s share of the acting honors going to Fagan.

Park Row (Samuel Fuller; United Artists), a short street in Lower Manhattan where almost all of the city’s daily newspapers were published between 1872 and 1892, was once the symbol of U.S. journalism. But judging from this purely fictional version of the U.S. press in the 19th century, Park Row flowed with blood rather than ink. Snarling, two-fisted Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans), publisher of the Globe, spent most of his time feuding with beautiful Charity Hackett (Mary Welch), publisher of the rival Star. It was not until the two publishers decided to merge mastheads and themselves that the bloody circulation wars came to an end.

When Mitchell was not personally beating up the Star’s hoodlums with his bare fists, he somehow managed, singlehanded, to originate most of the advancements of modern journalism. Like the New York Evening Telegram’s James Gordon Bennett, Mitchell put editorial cartoons on the front page for the first time. Like the World’s Joseph Pulitzer, he used banner headlines, developed reader promotion, and went in for crusades and stunts, e.g., raising a fund to build the Statue of Liberty pedestal. He also brought out several daily editions of the Globe, inaugurated newsstands, and encouraged Ottmar Mergenthaler to perfect the linotype machine. He even found time to free Steve Brodie from jail, where he had been lodged for diving off the Brooklyn Bridge.

Park Row is grandiosely dedicated to American journalism and journalists, but the roar of the Globe’s presses comes out as only a squeak.

*And the most filmed of Scott’s 25 novels. Other screen versions of Ivanhoe: a three-reel Hollywood production made in 1913 with King Baggot in the title role, and a 1913 British six-reeler entitled Rebecca the Jewess.

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