Cinema: The New Pictures, Nov. 15, 1948

  • Share
  • Read Later

Joan of Arc (Sierra Pictures; RKO Radio) gives Ingrid Bergman the biggest role in her career. She almost fills it. If the rest of the movie were up to Miss Bergman, it could be rated very close to excellent. As it is, it rates A for effort.

The story of Joan of Arc has enchanted film makers as it has poets, artists, musicians, dramatists, historians. The first film Joan of Arc was made in 1900 by French Movie Pioneer George Melies. Pathe made two versions (1909 and 1913). Cecil B. DeMille's crack at the subject (191?) was called Joan the Woman, starring Geraldine Farrar. Perhaps the most exciting version was Carl Dreyer's silent La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928), starring Mile. Falconetti.

This latest version tells the story of Joan from start to finish—from the time she heard her heavenly voices, as a farm girl at Domremy, to her anguished death at the stake. At times the meticulous history lesson dulls the drama. The storming of Orleans is supposedly as historically correct as research could make it, down to the last split skull and link of armor; but on film it adds up to noisy and not altogether convincing movie battle. Once the picture loses sight of the fact that it is Joan's personal story, she becomes a lifeless symbol in a pageant.

Ingrid Bergman gives Joan the unlip-sticked dignity and the spiritual conviction that the story demands. Whenever Hollywood puts a stagy gloss on the scene, reminding the audience that what they are looking at is a very expensive movie set, Bergman's passionate fidelity to her part saves the day. Fine supporting actors play the Dauphin (Jose Ferrer), the Count of Luxembourg (J. Carrol Naish), the Bishop of Beauvais (Francis L. Sullivan) and Joan's bailiff (Shepperd Strudwick).

Walter Wanger, 54, who had the courage to invest in Joan and produce it, has "repeatedly gambled on a-little-ahead-of-the-parade movie ideas.- Joan of Arc cost $4,600,000 to film, another $1,000,000 for Technicolor; it may have to gross as much as $9,000,000. A producer who bets that much on a script without sex is taking an awful chance. But Wanger had faith in an idea; and his faith was shared by his partners (Sierra Pictures is owned 40% by Ingrid Bergman, 30% each by Wanger and Director Victor Fleming). Says Wanger: "Right now people are confused. They need orientation. They want something more reassuring than material things."

June Bride (Warner). Thanks largely to some bright dialogue and an artful performance by Robert Montgomery, this is the best Bette Davis picture in some time. Relaxing from her usual heavy dramatics in a light comedy, Bette is cast as the snobbish, know-it-all editor of a woman's magazine.

Editor Davis assigns four of her staff to do a picture & text feature on an Indiana small-town wedding. It is such a fascinating assignment that she drops everything to go along on the job herself. The writer is her old beau (Robert Montgomery), an unemployed foreign correspondent.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2