The New Pictures, Feb. 7, 1944

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By the time the tour is over, little Alpha is shoulder-deep in the reporter's difficulties with Torcher Marsha Hunt and with Gunman Keenan Wynn, whom she frightens by calling him "an anti-social type." Later she reforms the gangster by reading fairy tales to him. She also learns, and suffers from, the essential ingredient which the scientists left out of their graphs for the Perfect Child: Love. She falls hopelessly in love with the reporter, all but dies before he adopts her.

Lost Angel has its drawbacks. It stacks its cards pretty heavily against its well-meaning scientists. And Newshawk James Craig's kind of love is as limited in its own way as the kind of science which Messrs. Philip Merivale, Donald Meek, et al. represent. Yet Lost Angel is an important and lovely picture. James Craig, Marsha Hunt, Keenan Wynn and, above all, seven-year-old Margaret O'Brien as Alpha, make it often very moving.

The Song of Russia (M.G.M.) is Robert Taylor's farewell for the duration (he is now a naval lieutenant, j.g.). It is a cloudburst of Tchaikovsky. As a U.S. maestro, Taylor impresses his prewar Russian audiences by conducting the works of the master; as a Russian pianist, Susan Peters first impresses him by her slashing opening of the famed Concerto No. 1. They are married in her musical-conservatory village—Tchaikovskoye. There is time out for folk tunes and a brisk kazotsky. But they are beating out the Concerto once more the night before the invasion and, after a wartime separation, Tchaikovsky is resumed while Taylor searches the ravaged environs of Tchaikovskoye for his bride. As the picture ends they are sweating out the Concerto again, generating good will in the U.S.

Many U.S. soldiers find this naive propaganda one long howl of laughter. Many civilians may find bits of it acceptable. A Russian sentry (Konstantin Shayne) and an officer (John Wengraf) have short but very telling bits. The earthy, wooden, jigsawed village looks enough like home, to U.S. audiences, to be shocking in its devastation. And the music, vigorously conducted backscreen by Albert Coates, is a boundary-melting pleasure to hear.

Sweden's Middle Road (MARCH OF TIME) contains a number of sharp glimpses of balance between capitalism and socialism. U.S. citizens are likely to view these scenes of neutral Sweden with the odd fascination normally reserved for the craters of the moon. They will see, for example, the streets of a great city fully alight, while bombs shrill over the Berlin phone. They will see Dr. Hans Thomsen at the German Legation—The Enemy, as close up, startling sinister as if a tiger were suddenly to gaze in the window.

Quite as interesting are such pictured, unfamiliar facts about Sweden as 1) the conversion of automobiles into wood-burning vehicles (there is no gasoline whatever for Swedish civilians); 2) the conversion of wood pulp into shoes, garments, even fodder; 3) the conversion of more & more Swedes, with every Nazi defeat, to open espousal of the Allied cause. Only an estimated 5% today, remain neutral or pro-Axis in spirit.

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