The Proud Rebel (Samuel Goldwyn Jr.; Buena Vista) is a sheep-country western that offers the customers little more than the chance to count sheepwith the predictable result that the picture is a 103-minute snore. The heroes are a Confederate veteran and his ailing son (played by Alan Ladd and his winsome, talented eleven-year-old son David). The boy saw his mother killed by Sherman's troops and was literally struck dumb at the sight. He and his father are wandering northward through what the script calls Illinoisactually a spectacular piece of Utah scenerylooking for a doctor who can restore the boy's speech, when they run into a not-too-old maid (Olivia de Havilland) who has the right prescription : love.
Unfortunately, Olivia's pill is so heavily sugared that grownups may find it hard to swallow. Actress de Havilland, who is seldom seen on the screen these days, is still the same fine-looking woman a condition the studio attributes to "marital happiness and yoga exercises." Unhappily, she is also the same mistress of sentimental overstatement. She never misses a chance to press her heart and roll her eyes, but she could not be bothered to learn the proper way to blow out a kerosene lamp.*As for Actor Ladd, after 17 years and 40 starring roles, he has at last been able to make a significant contribution to the screen: his son.
Vertigo (Hitchcock; Paramount). Hollywood's best-known butterball, Alfred Hitchcock, has been spread pretty thin in recent years. The old master, now a slave to television, has turned out another Hitchcock-and-bull story in which the mystery is not so much who done it as who cares.
Worked up from a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, the French team that wrote Diabolique and Demo-niaque, this picture tells what happens to a victim of vertigo (James Stewart) when he meets a dizzy blonde (Kim Novak). When she goes round in circles, he goes round in circles toountil he falls. Jimmy is cast as a gumshoe who has drawn the enviable assignment of keeping a private eye on Kim. The lady's husband (Tom Helmore) is afraid that his bride, in the grip of a suicidal depression, may head for the deep six, and one day she literally does take a leap into San Francisco Bay. Detective Stewart saves her from the drink and takes her home for coffeewith sugar. Soon he is crazy about the girl, but the girl is apparently just plain crazy. One day she eludes him and jumps to her death from the nearest steeple.
Or does she? If she does, then who is that redhead Stewart sees on the street about six months later? Surely only Kim could look so beatifically bovine. Surely, by this-time, the question is of little interest, particularly after a half-hour or so of psychiatric disquisition that interrupts the plot and suspends the suspense. Still, Actor Stewart is a fascinating old pro, and in this picture Actress Novak hits a new high in her cinema career. As Director Hitchcock expressed it: "She doesn't ruin the story.''
*Turn the flame low before blowing to preserve the wick and keep the chimney clean.