Cinema: The New Pictures, Jun. 7, 1948

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Melody Time (Disney; RKO Radio) is a crowded 75 minutes of song-illustrated animation involving: 1) skating lovers, tintype style, emulated by rabbits; 2) Rimsky-Korsakov's bumblebee, tormented by a boogie bass; 3) Johnny Appleseed, advised by a Guardian Angel in a coonskin cap; 4) Donald Duck, Joe Carioca and Organist Ethel Smith in the throes of a samba; 5) an apotheosis of Joyce Kilmer's Trees; 6) a young tugboat named Little Toot which disgraces and redeems itself; 7) a tall-tale, free-for-all finale about Pecos Bill, his horse Widow-maker and his gal Sluefoot Sue.

These items are variously sung, brassed and narrated by such entertainers as the Andrews Sisters, Waring's Pennsylvanians, the Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers, and Trigger, the Smartest Horse in the Movies, who looks perfectly capable of reciting the Gettysburg Address but keeps a more discreet silence than his colleagues.

The things that used to be best about the best Disney movies are now so emphatically good that they verge on mere blatancy; the old weaknesses have grown a hundred times their old size. The draftsmanship is becoming rigid and frigid in a kind of gift-shoppe stylization. The outbursts of pure energy, though more restrained than in The Three Caballeros, still seem touched with homicidal mania. Nearly every attempt at cuteness, sweetness, tenderness, sublimity, results in one or another kind of painful simper. There is a frequent, unscrupulous alternation between the dreamy shimmer and the bang on the snoot.

On the other hand, the straight technical expertism is still one of the wonders of the movie world. The plain raw slapstick and character comedy are the best to be found—except in better Disneys—since the comic masters of silence. And in every opportunity for the eerie, the cruel, the ghostly, the terrifying, the darkly and mysteriously sad, genuine creative inspiration jumps to life.

Up in Central Park (Universal-International) is the story of Boss Tweed in a Currier & Ives setting. A colleen (Deanna Durbin), just off the boat from Ireland, flirts with a whiz-bang muckraker (Dick Haymes) from the New York Times. Her illiterate father, in all innocence, fattens zoo pheasants for the table of sybaritic.

Boss Tweed (Vincent Price). When Rake Tweed entices Deanna down to an intimate supper, papa tags along and spoils everything. It all came right in the end; and that is why, today, we have PM, democracy, and the 10¢ subway fare.

Miss Durbin, prettily as she sings, still seems more like a canary than a woman; and by & large this production, like the musical comedy from which it is derived, is at best merely the least unpleasant way of surviving a class in civics.

The Lady from Shanghai (Columbia) is a piece of sleight of hand by Orson Welles. The big trick in this picture was to divert a head-on collision of at least six plots, and make of it a smooth-flowing, six-lane whodunit. Orson brings the trick off.

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