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Song is as immediate among the Welsh "as sight is in the eye," and How Green is eloquent with melody. Music is beautifully supplied on & off the screen by 80 members of a Welsh choir discovered in Los Angeles. When these singers were moved into the picture's expensive Welsh village in the California hills, some of the elders thought it was supposed to be an exact replica of their home towns in Wales. They made no bones about complaining of inaccuracies in the buildings, of names on tombstones of people who had never lived in their town. According to Director Ford, one, whose brother is buried in Wales, found his name on a tombstone and went there each noon to mourn.
Although it is as dramatically incoherent as life itself, How Green is a radiant idyll of the dignity and charm of honest, simple working people. Well acted by a competent, unstarred cast, the picture is a credit to Director Ford, who is himself a big, rumpled, modest Celt (Irish) with a tidy mind, rock-ribbed integrity and a talent for turning out superb pictures (The Informer, Arrowsmith, Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach). It is also his last picturefor the present. He is now on active duty with the U.S. Navy.
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (Universal) is not a movie; it is 70 minutes of photographed vaudeville by polypnosed W. C. Fields, assisted by Gloria Jean, Franklin Pangborn and other stage properties. As such, it is strong drink for cinemaddicts who believe that the Great Man can do no wrong, small beer for those who think that even a Fields picture should have a modicum of direction.
Sucker has no plot and needs none. It is just Fields trying to peddle a scenario to Esoteric Studios. He reads a scene, then plays it. Upshot: a maelstrom of slapstick, song, blackout. episodes, old gags, new gags, confusion. That much of it is truly comic is testimony to the fact that Comedian Fields is one of the funniest men on earth. Whether he is offering a cure for insomnia ("Get plenty of sleep"), refusing a bromo ("couldn't stand the noise"), nasally vocalizing ("chickens have pretty legs in Kansas"), meticulously blowing the head off an ice cream soda, Fields is a beautifully timed exhibit of mock pomposity, puzzled ineffectualness, subtle understatement and true-blue nonchalance.
Now 62, Fields has spent most of his adult life battling babies, dogs, censors, producers, directors, the world in general. From the shape of his latest picture, it is apparent that he has Universal licked. The only round Fields is known to have lost was the production's title: he wanted it called The Great Man. After the present title was selected, the comedian snarled: "What does it matter; they can't get that on a marquee. It will probably boil down to FieldsSucker."
Recently Fields drew blood. Universal sent him a legal document threatening court action if he didn't mend his studio manners (i.e., references to company executives, language in front of cinemoppets, general demeanor). Back came a reply: "Dear Sir, Mr. Fields and I read your letter and did we laugh." It was signed "Adele" (Fields's Negro housemaid).