Challenge to Hollywood (MARCH OF TIME) is a look at Britain's new film industry and a brief examination of the economic reasons why England is attempting to rival Hollywood for both British and U.S. markets. As Robert John Graham Boothby, Conservative Member of Parliament, puts it: "If I have to choose between Bogart and bacon, I am afraid that the decision must, for the time being, be in favor of bacon."
In reviewing British films for the past decade, the picture takes retrospective glances at scenes from such pictures as The Scarlet Pimpernel and Colonel Blimp. The film also introduces a few British faces still new to U.S. audiences: Googie Withers, Ann Todd, James Mason and Stewart Granger. This timely short should make U.S. cinemaddicts curiousand Hollywood's cinemanufacturers nervousabout Britain's celluloid exports.
Frontier Gal (Universal) is a big, colorful parody of a horse opera with all the galloping excitement of the real thing. The kiddies won't find it as much fun as their elders will. The picture's chief excitement is Yvonne (Salome, Where She Danced) de Carlo, a vigorous, shapely actress who looks equally luscious in sequins or a fringed doeskin skirt. Minor causes of excitement: horse-chases, barroom brawls, shootings, knife-throwing and a baby teetering over a precipice at the end of a fallen tree. Frontier Gal oversteps the bounds of conventional horse-opera morality by including a kissing marathon and several rough-&-tumble bedroom scenes.
The picture's humor is as broad as its action is fast. The script is virtually actor-proof: all the characters are kept so busy ducking bullets, knives and pottery that they rarely get a chance to deliver a line, let alone muff one. But beauteous Yvonne de Carlo has competent support from strong-armed Rod Cameron and from a taciturn Indian who says "Ho" instead of "Ugh."
When Writer-Producers Michael Fessier and Ernest Pagano set out to produce a Technicolor Western, they decided they wouldn't spare the horses. They didn't: the picture cost $1,400,000. They thought it might be a good idea to incorporate all the time-tested chestnuts they could think of. They were confident that stringing all the horse-opera clichés together and playing them straight would be parody enough. Explains Fessier: "We grooved the tongue in the cheek. Why pull punches? We gave them everything."
Leave Her to Heaven (20th Century-Fox) is an obviously costly production of the best-selling (more than a million copies) novel by Ben Ames Williams. The story's central idea might be plausible enough in a dramatically lighted black-&-white picture or in a radio show with plenty of organ background. But in the rich glare of Technicolor, all its rental-library characteristics are doubly glaring.
Leave Her's heroine is jealous Ellen (Gene Tierney), whose somewhat too-intense love for her husband (Cornel Wilde) leads her to drown his brother, throw herself downstairs, and eventually poison her own coffee. The unhappy story moves through breathtakingly stylish country interiors which make no particular point except to show that the characters have plenty of chintz-upholstered leisure for getting into mischief.