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Men and Jobs (Amkino) differs from the run of Russian pictures in the light touch with which its director, Alexander Macharet, has embellished his small chronicle of earnest endeavor by the foreman of a construction gang. This foreman (Nicholas Okhlopkov) is chipper about his methods and proud of his efficiency until a U. S. engineer arrives to work in the same projectthe building of a power dam which represents the one opened at Dnieprostroy last autumn. A rivalry arises between the two men in which the Russian, at first thoroughly worsted, struggles to catch up. His efforts, less heroic than amusing, in one sequence produce the kind of comic suspense on which early Harold Lloyd pictures were constructed. The mechanic in charge of a steam crane gets drunk. The Russian foreman orders him out of the cab and climbs in himself. With very little knowledge of how the contraption will react, he begins to pull its levers, manages, by the skin of his teeth, to avoid dropping several tons of cement on his underlings. Men and Jobs is not. essentially, entertainment, but it is a striking and intelligent advertisement for the Five-Year Plan. Good shot: the Russian foreman making a speech in which he tries to explain how, after all, he and his workmen have succeeded in beating their competitorbecause of their "enthusiasm."
Frisco Jenny (Warner) is a slightly revised version of two earlier Ruth Chatterton picturesMadame X, in which she was a Parisian prostitute with a small son, and Once a Lady, in which she was a Parisian prostitute with a small daughter. In Frisco Jenny, Ruth Chatterton lives in California and acts as a procuressfirst to provide bread and mittens for her small illegitimate whippersnapper; then, from force of habit. While branching out with a profitable bootlegging business, Frisco Jenny keeps a scrapbook of her son's doings. When this scrapbook reveals that he is running for district attorney of San Francisco at the age of 25, audiences can foresee what will follow: a courtroom scene in which Jenny is denounced by her son (Donald Cook), condemned to be hanged.
Stories of this type hold expansive possibilities for romantic tragediennes. Ruth Chatterton makes the most of them, particularly throughout the carefully built-up climax sequence at San Quentin prison, in which she bravely refrains from telling the district attorney the secret that might save her. Typical shot: Frisco Jenny watching the 1926 Stanford v. California football game in which her son plays for Stanford.
The Mummy (Universal). Boris Karloff, like the late Lon Chancy whose niche in the cinema he is trying hard to inherit, keeps his pressagent busy estimating the amount of time he expends in putting on makeup. For The Mummy, Karloff's preparations took eight hours. He dampened his face, covered it with strips of cotton, applied collodion and spirit gum, pinned his ears back, covered his head with clay, painted himself with 22 kinds of greasepaint, then wound himself up like a top in bandages which had been rotted in acid and roasted. It is a pity that these energetic preliminaries preceded a horror picture which contains only one genuinely hair-raising momentwhen the words of a charm are accidentally spoken by a young archeologist and the 3,700-year-old corpse of an Egyptian priest comes to life in its tomb.