Cinema: The New Pictures: Dec. 3, 1934

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Except that it is Joe Penner's first full-length cinema, College Rhythm differs little from dozens of predecessors about university life. In it Lyda Roberti, Helen Mack, Mary Brian dance and snuggle with Penner, Jack Oakie, Lanny Ross. A chorus jigs in & out of classrooms, in & about the counters of rival department stores where the male members of the cast are employed after graduation. Best songs, already popularized on the radio, are "Stay As Sweet As You Are," "Take a Number from One to Ten." An offstage character in his stage and radio performances, the Penner duck, Goo-goo, makes its début in College Rhythm, paddles about in a pool while its owner sings.


Imitation of Life (Universal). Bea Pullman (Claudette Colbert), a young widow with a small daughter, hires a colored cook (Louise Beavers), whose small daughter looks almost white. The two. mothers set up a boardwalk shop to sell pancakes. The two children grow up together. By the time the shop has become a corporation selling 32,000,000 boxes of Aunt Delilah's pancake flour every year, Bea Pullman is ready for romance with an ichthyologist (Warren William); small Jessie Pullman is old enough for an adolescent love affair with her mother's fiancé; Aunt Delilah's daughter, Peola, is old enough to try to "pass" by taking a job as cashier in a restaurant.

The real heroine of Imitation of Life is not Bea Pullman but Aunt Delilah, and of the many problems which the picture investigates by far the most exciting is that of the aging colored woman whose good fortune emphasizes her daughter's racial unhappiness. By dodging this problem with dogged determination, Imitation of Life relinquishes all claim to artistic honesty. By introducing it at all, it diminishes the effect of incidents such as Bea Pullman's renunciation of her sweetheart to avoid hurting her daughter's feelings, Aunt Delilah's fumbling efforts to help Peola, and the comic complaints of Bea Pullman's business manager (Ned Sparks). Because of the authority with which it is acted and the skill with which Director John Stahl has built up individual episodes, the picture remains an efficient tearjerker, outspoken in its praise of motherlove. Good shot: Bea Pullman giving a tramp a meal in exchange for the advice that makes her fortune out of pancake flour.

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