The New Pictures, Apr. 24, 1944

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Though the pathos, irony, and confusion implicit in this career — which is, in its way, U.S. history crystallized in one man — are avoided like so many mortal diseases, they manage now & then to seep through. But the best of the West is not in the characters or the story. It is in the immense and finely colored country and the hurrying of people on it. It shows itself best of all in able Director William {The Ox-Bow Incident) Wellman's violent, full-blooded staging of a battle with Indians. (Fine shots: the apoplectic charging of horsemen through shallow water, churning into haze around hundreds of hoofs.) Even this battle, the showpiece of the picture, is nearer to kids'-book than to real killing. But however short it may fall of the Wild West, as a Wild West Show it is first-rate.

It Happened Tomorrow (United Artists). The idea which Dudley Nichols and Rene Clair picked up from an obscure one-acter by Lord Dunsany—what happens to a man who beats the world to the next day's news—sounds more comically appetizing than it is. Dick Powell, cub reporter for a Manhattan newspaper of the '90s, is the man who thinks it would be fun to know the future. An old city-desk pensioner (72-year-old Newcomer John Philliber), on the point of death, decides the boy needs a lesson, hands it out to him in easy doses in the form of three issues of the paper, neatly printed, a day ahead of time. Thanks to this ectoplasmic tip-sheet, Reporter Powell scores a beat on a box-office holdup, runs foul of irate Police Inspector Edgar Kennedy as a suspected accomplice, saves pretty Linda Darnell from pseudo suicide, sees a chance to stack up a quick fortune at the races—and comes smack against the third day's headlines, which announce his own violent death. The picture's funniest moments show him trying to worm his way out of that one.

Students of cinematic style will find many shrewdly polished bits in It Happened Tomorrow to admire and enjoy; and Dick Powell's graceful sportiness and Linda Darnell's new-minted loveliness are two arresting samples of what wise directing can do. But by & large the simple comic pleasures of the picture lose themselves in intricate artifice, until the last half-hour. Then, with the crowded, horse-playful race-track scenes and with the long, romping cops-&-robbers chase which ends the picture, cinemaddicts will know for sure that this film is the work of René Clair, the French cinemagician whose Le Million, Sous les Toits de Paris and A Nous la Liberté are among the most inspired screen comedies ever made.

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