Cinema: The New Pictures, May 30, 1949

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The Forbidden Street (20th Century-Fox) is a plushy piece of theatrical fustian spun from Britannia Mews, the bestseller by British Novelist Margery Sharp. Full of fine careless raptures and even more careless improvisations, it tells a story as cluttered with plot as a Victorian interior.

When rapture No. 1 comes along, Maureen O'Hara, an impetuous young woman of the 1880s, defies her respectable family to marry an impoverished painter (Dana Andrews with a beard). Soon after he takes her off to live in a picturesque London slum, Dana turns out to be just what mother suspected—a bounder. Fortunately for Maureen, he is also a drunkard. One bright morning-after, he topples off the front stoop and breaks his neck.

This leaves Maureen free for rapture No. 2, a poor young lawyer (Dana Andrews without a beard) who is also a drunkard. Not to be caught napping a second time, Maureen sobers him up, supplies him with bed & board, and helps him to start a puppet theater in the mews. After a stretch of successful puppeteering, the couple's happiness is threatened by the return of Dana's wife from the U.S. But everything is straightened out in time for a jolly family reunion with Maureen's respectable parents down in Surrey.

Director Jean (Johnny Belinda) Negulesco has tried, with some handsome lighting and photography, to give Street the look of an important film. Actually, like most movies designed for the matinee trade, it is- little more than a carefully contrived balance sheet of petty emotional expenses.

One Woman's Story (Rank; Universal-International) has been told often and better by Hollywood. In this ill-advised British-made version, the glamorous, irresolute heroine (Ann Todd) decides to marry wealth and security (Claude Rains), but she cannot bring herself to let go of romance (Trevor Howard).

When Hollywood spins this yarn, it frequently abandons all pretense at reality. The stylized characters may lack conviction, but they have the gossamer look of dreamlike figures in a ballet. The British, trying in this movie to mix glamor with small, telling touches of reality, have missed out on both. The failure is particularly glaring because a number of highly skilled hands were involved in it. The plot was based on an H. G. Wells novel, The Passionate Friends. The screenplay was written by a topnotch storyteller, Eric Ambler (Journey into Fear, A Coffin for Dimitrios). The film was put together by one of the best directors on either side of the Atlantic, David Lean (Brief Encounter, Great Expectations).

One Woman's Story is an expensive warning to all non-Hollywood moviemakers: leave the filming of stylishly dressed romantic triangles to California's old masters of the art.

Streets of Laredo (Paramount) spins a drawling Technicolored yarn about three Texas badmen who are buddies. Two of them (William Holden and William Bendix) eventually go straight and get jobs as Texas Rangers. The third, MacDonald Carey, goes right on rustling cattle and robbing banks. All three, in one way or another, get romantically entangled with a pale-lipped chit of a cowgirl (Mona Freeman) who takes a pretty nearsighted view of right & wrong.

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