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Nightmare Alley would be unbearably brutal for general audiences if it were played for all the humor, cynicism and malign social observation that are implicit in it. It would be unbearably mawkish if it were played too solemnly. Scripter Jules Furthman and Director Edmund Goulding have steered a middle course, now & then crudely but on the whole with tact, skill and power. They have seldom forgotten that the original novel they were adapting is essentially intelligent trash; and they have never forgotten that on the screen pretty exciting things can be made of trash. From top to bottom of the cast, the playing is good. Joan Blondell, as the fading carnival queen, is excellent and Tyrone Powerwho asked to be cast in the picturesteps into a new class as an actor.
Variety Girl (Paramount) is a kind of Moviegoers' Digest of all Paramount pictures. Almost everything that draws breath and salary on the Paramount lotfrom the biggest star to the lowliest scene shifterhas a spot in this glittering show.
The plot, which serves as an excuse for bringing all Paramount's talent together, is so simple that it took four Hollywood writers to think it up: the audience is merely allowed to tag along on a studiedly informal studio tour with two young actresses (Mary Hatcher and Olga San Juan) who are trying to break into pictures.
In its unpretentious, meandering way, Variety Girl is a likable show, mostly because its stars are allowed to do what they do best: Sonny Tufts says "Gee!"; Lizabeth Scott says nothing, but wears her inscrutable smirk; Gary Cooper wraps his leathery grin around an apple and mumbles "H'lo"; Paulette Goddard poses provocatively in a bubble bath; Bob Hope & Bing Crosby recite some better-than-average light banter while chopping golf balls all over the lot; Pearl Bailey puts the show in her pocket with a sulky song called Tired.
Mary Hatcher, 17-year-old veteran of Broadway's Oklahoma!, sings and looks considerably better than is required of the Young Hopeful; with so many more famous faces to ogle, the camera hardly gives her a tumble.
Green Dolphin Street (MGM) was the winner of MGM's first annual $200,000 novel contest. With a pennywisdom that raised the picture's cost above $4 million, the studio apparently attempted to preserve on film almost every page of its prizewinning property.
The $200.000 story: two daughters of a rich St. Pierre (Channel Islands) merchant fall in love with the same slack-mouthed young man (Richard Hart). He cannot make up his mind what to do with his life, until Lana Turner, the "strong" sister (you can tell because she juts her jaw), suggests that he become a British naval officer.
After missing his ship in a China port, Hart goes to New Zealand and settles down in the lumber business with an old St. Pierre acquaintance (Van Heflin). Then he writes home to ask Donna Reed, the "sweet" sister (you can tell because she flutters her eyelashes), to come out and marry him. When Sister Lana arrives, it all comes back to him: he was drunk when he wrote the letter of proposal and got the sisters' names mixed.