Cinema: The New Pictures, Jul. 11, 1955

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This Island Earth (Universal) stays earthbound just a little too long as Scientist Rex Reason grows increasingly suspicious of a house party thrown by Jeff Morrow, an eggheaded visitor from outer space. But when Rex and his beautiful fellow scientist Faith Domergue try to escape, they are scooped into a flying saucer and whizzed off to the planet of Metaluna to help their hard-pressed host fight off some neighboring spacemen. The interplanetary war that follows has Metaluna looking like a giant pinball machine screaming "Tilt!" in seven different colors. What with dodging flaming meteors and grappling with odious mutants (half-human and half-insect monsters that have a weakness for female earthlings), Rex and Faith are mighty lucky to grab a seat on the last spaceship back to earth.

The Seven Little Foys (Paramount) has a story as relentlessly cute as an elephant in pinafores. Bob Hope, cast as the late Vaudevillian Eddie Foy, is supposed to be so allergic to women that in years of married life he sees his wife (Milly Vitale) only the minimum amount of time necessary to father seven children. What he does with the time thus saved is never fully explained. According to the movie, his principal nonworking pastimes are playing pool and trading insults with James Cagney, thinly disguised as Hoofer George M. Cohan.

Milly Vitale dies while Hope is heedlessly off having a soft-shoe competition with Cagney, and the remorseful widower settles down in Westchester to be a daddy to his justifiably indignant brood. But, at tedious length, he is persuaded by his agent to drag all seven of the urchins into vaudeville. They are a smash hit, and one of the boys improves his backstage hours by becoming an expert crapshooter, another a skilled Peeping Tom. And now Writer-Director Melville Shavelson adds a predictable turn of the dramatic screw: Hope's bitter sister-in-law protests to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Foy and family are haled into court. The children deliver impassioned appeals for Papa, while Papa sums up with a thundering speech in defense of child labor. Visibly moved, the judge sends them all back to the Orpheum Circuit.

Out of this unlikely material emerges a better-than-average VistaVision musical mostly because of the near-maniacal energy of Bob Hope, whose timing was never better as he splutters gags like an endless string of comic firecrackers. Italy's Milly Vitale is decorative as the long-suffering wife, and the children are always on hand to trigger a succession of mildly-daring jokes about childbirth.

Lady and the Tramp (Walt Disney; Buena Vista) draws a bead on the susceptible hearts of some 20 million U.S. dog lovers with a 75-minute Cinema-Scope cartoon of the romance between a high-bred cocker spaniel (Lady) and a mongrel (Tramp) from the wrong side of the tracks. But, in humoring dog lovers, Disney may well lose friends among cat fanciers for his venomous portrait of a brace of Siamese cats (named Si and Am) that are noticeably lacking in the virtuous qualities that abound in the canine kingdom.

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