Cinema: The New Pictures: Feb. 2, 1931

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Resurrection (Universal). There are evidences in casting and in the treatment of the opening sequences that Director Edwin Carewe, who made a silent Resurrection with Dolores del Rio, intended this version to be an operetta. In a way it is too bad that he changed his intention to the extent of reducing the musical construction to a few stray bits of song. Making an operetta of one of the most pitiless parables in literature would have set a new high mark for cinematic bathos. John Boles, a typical musicomedy leading man, handsome, colorless and well-voiced, plays the Russian officer who finds himself serving on a jury impaneled to try for murder a prostitute whom, when she was a pretty servant girl, he casually deserted seven years before. The story is told with appreciation of its more obvious theatrical values and a proper subduing of its savage morality. That not much can be done with the characters is less Director Carewe's fault than the fault of Author Leo Tolstoy, who wrote Resurrection in condemnation of the pleasures of the world which he had himself enjoyed and which, in earlier work, he vividly celebrated. Carewe preserves it as Tolstoy wrote it, a heart-rending trad. Technically, Resurrection is brilliant, especially in two sequences: one of acting, when Lupe Velez screams her innocence in the tsarist courtroom; and one of direction, a sequence illustrating the murder where the victim characterizes himself by loud, drunken noises without being seen.

Fighting Caravans (Paramount). Weighed down with local color until it is as top-heavy as one of its covered wagons, lumbering clumsily along a trail already well-worn by similar pictures of pioneering, Fighting Caravans presents lanky Gary Cooper and dynamic Lily Damita making love out-of-doors. He is the brave scout of a wagon train. She is a little French girl whose dying father commanded her with his last words to keep on westward. The suspense consists of mechanical separations of the lovers as they move along and of the question of how the wagon train will be treated by the Indians, with audience sympathy distinctly on the side of the latter. The continuity is broken; the dialog unlikely; the only satisfying element is Lily Damita who still talks with a strong accent and has to have her roles written to allow for this. Silliest shot: the battle with the Indians.

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