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Assuming that the neighborhood theater is comfortably air conditioned, Easy to Wed is a simpleminded, perfectly harmless way to kill a couple of sticky summer hours.
Of Human Bondage (Warner) is a handsome, efficient, totally unnecessary film remake of Somerset Maugham's 1915 novel. It contains few surprises for anyone who has ever read the reputedly autobiographical book or seen the well-made 1934 movie with the late Leslie Howard and Bette Davis.
This time Austrian-accented Paul Henreid is the overly sensitive, love-tortured medical student. (Henreid's blatantly un-British enunciation is lightly dismissed by a reference in the script to his "Viennese mother.") Eleanor Parker, a pretty, plumpish, 24-year-old ingenue, is physically miscast as the scrawny little slut of a waitress. But under Director Edmund Goulding's shrewd guidance, she does a fine, shoulder-wriggling job in the repellent role that gave Bette Davis a start as the screen's No. 1 hussy.
The picture's chief novelty: cool, blonde Alexis Smith, try as she will, fails to inspire the hero to Better Things. With her ladylike beauty, Alexis has made quite a Hollywood careeer of inspiring heroes, especially composers (the film George Gershwin and the film Cole Porter, both under Alexis' magic spell, sat right down and dashed off their best music). But she doesn't quite click with the screen's young Maugham. The poor boob goes right on yearning for that impossible, vulgar hashslinger.
Dead of Night (Ealing-Universal) is an unusual, British-made thriller which Universal is hawking in the U.S. with an unusual ad campaign. "The everyday phrases and superlatives of ballyhoo," say Universal's ballyhoo experts, "are completely inadequate to capture the mood, the depth, the excitement of this oddly stirring motion picture."
Dead of Night isn't quite that goodbut it is smoothly acted, cleverly directed, well off the beaten Hollywood path. It offers the same sort of spine-cooling thrill you get from listening to a group of accomplished liars swapping ghost stories.