Cinema: The New Pictures: Jun. 17, 1935

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The Raven (Universal). Bela ("Dracula") Lugosi and Boris ("Frankenstein") Karloff, foremost U. S. cinemonsters, first played together in The Black Cat, "suggested" by Edgar Allan Poe's story (TIME, May 28, 1934). The Raven "suggested" by that frail, pathetic poet's best-known poem, suffers chiefly from the obligation its producers felt to give it more bloodcurdling situations and paraphernalia than The Black Cat. Consequently the picture is stuffed with horrors to the point of absurdity. One imposing piece of equipment is a bedroom which descends to the basement like an elevator when its owner wishes to harass its occupant.

Lugosi is a distinguished, crazy surgeon who broods over Edgar Allan Poe, keeps a stuffed raven in his study, is fascinated by death and torture. When his vanity is appealed to, he operates on a young girl (Irene Ware) to save her life, falls in love with her. Meanwhile he is approached by a criminal (Karloff) who wants his features altered to escape detection. Because Karloff, anxious to mend his ways, believes that "ugly people do ugly things," he begs to be made better looking. Instead, Lugosi makes him uglier still, enslaves him by promising to do a better job next time. Spurned by the girl and reproached by her father, Lugosi decides to torture them to death with such a Poetic device as a slowly descending, knife-blade pendulum. In the end he is thwarted by Karloff who chooses to be shot rather than let Miss Ware be crushed to death in a room whose walls are slowly coming together.

Our Little Girl (Fox) indicates that he pressing problem of keeping small Shirley Temple's time completely occupied is one for which her employers can find no satisfactory solution. This picture is a tedious little anecdote showing how the matrimonial differences of Dr. Donald Middleton (Joel McCrea) and his wife (Rosemary Ames) are eventually adjusted through the good offices of their mall daughter. As Molly Middleton, Shirley Temple tries hard to pull a vehicle which would be far too heavy for any adult cinemactress, manages to be surprisingly effective even in the sequence which shows Molly explaining to her Scottish terrier how she intends to run away because no one loves her any more. Most inevitable shot: Molly Middleton, informed by her mother's new admirer that she is coming to live at his house, asking whether daddy can come too.

The Clairvoyant (Gaumont-British), remotely suggested by an Ernst Lothar novel about a man who discovered he had the gift of detailed and exact prophecy, makes eerie entertainment out of the supernatural. Like The Scoundrel which needed two outright miracles for a happy ending, The Clairvoyant uses the modest method of understatement.

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