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February 28, 1960 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1960-02-28
Note:
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-7

Booking Films for Local Audiences

ACT OA Captivating Portra

(Continued from Page 3)
A: I think it was lowest in
57-58, but I'd have to check. It's
been good this year, the reason
being the quality of recent films.
They've been intelligent pictures,
for adults. By "adult" I don't mean
"vulgar," either. They've been
films of mature intelligence.
Q: What effect do the Legion
of Decency ratings have upon at-
tendance?
A: Little, if any. Actually,
their attitude has changed con-
siderably in recent years. They've
relaxed their standards. They used
to rate films as being either Al,
A2 or B. B meant that the picture
was unsuitable. Now they rate
them either Al, A2, A3, or B. A3,
the new rating, stands "for adults
only," with the result that the B
rating has virtually disappeared.
Q: A recent article in Satur-
day Review states that, because of
the new frankness in films, classi-
fication is inevitable. Do you
agree?
A: No, I don't. The words
"Adults Only" are bad. That's all
it takes to make children try to
see the movie. Also, certain houses
use that phrase just to make
money. They're trying to appeal to
the morbid mind. Quite often, as
a matter of fact, so-called lurid
pictures are very mild.

Q: 'In other words, children
should be permitted to see any
movie of their choosing?
A: No, but there are ways of
classifying without putting out a
sign. Now, in my opinion, if the
child is accompanied by the par-
ent, it's perfectly all right. That's
up to the parent. But if a group
of kids want to see a Bardot pic-
ture-well, there are tactful ways
of talking to them, or reasoning
with them.
Classification could be easily
mishandled. What is an "adult"
film? What are pictures most suit-

able for children? For instance,
pictures such as "The Wizard of
Oz," or "Pinocchio," were sup-
posed good entertainment for
children, but they scared the life
out of a lot of kids.
As far as adult viewing is con-
cerned, when you come right down
to it a picture is either good or
bad. Good pictures shouldn't in-
sult anyone, and we try to keep
the good ones coming in. We try
to keep faith with the student.
After all, they come from the top
families, and they're used to ma-
ture entertainment.

Adapting Broadway Plays
To The Motion Pictures

Q: Could Ann Arbor profit
from another theater?
A: I don't think so. A town
can only absorb so much. Besides
the three houses, there's the
Gothic Film Society and Cinema
Guild. And there's also other
forms of entertainment -- con-
certs and plays.
Q: Why did the Orpheum
theater close down?
A: It was much too small--
only had four-hundred seats. But
it developed a clientele for foreign
films, so we built the Campus
theater, which is, of course, larger
and more comfortable, and we
closed the Orpheum.
Q: Do you see any distinct, fu-
ture trends in the motion picture
industry?
A: I think that pictures will
get better. They have to, because
people are shopping more than
before. They no longer are satis-
fied by average films. They want
good ones. But somehow, things
will have to get cheaper, too. It's
getting so that many Hollywood
films are being shot in England.
"Hollywood on the Thames," they
call it. Films can be made more
Icheaply overseas.

The Story of One Man
And an Enchanted world
By JO JIARDEE

'Movies will get better'

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(Continued from Preceding Page)
QECONDLY IT must encourage
,J the writers within the medium
itself to create amore bountiful
supply of stories tailored exclu-
sively to accommodate the screen's
many potentialities. Just because
a successful Broadway production
was fashioned from a particular
dramatic work doesn't necessarily
indicate that a successful motion
picture treatment can also be
achieved.
In all fairness it must be said
that already there have been a
number of screen adaptations
which were artistically successful
and sufficiently suited to the visual
needs of the medium. "Stalag 17,"
"Indiscreet" and "Tea and Sym-
pathy" are just a few of the more
notable examples.
However the bulk of the adapted
offerings have suffered unneces-
sarily and excessively from their
Hollywood treatment.

It is indecent to represent some
of America's better writings by
shoddy and commercially tailored
adaptation which will reach the
masses not only in the domestic
market but also abroad. Tarnish-
ing the creative works of others is
a flagrant act rarely justifiable and,
never totally excusable.

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kT HAVE a pet theory of my own,a
probably invalid, that the
theatre is an inevitable refuge of
the unhappy child." Thus begins
Moss Hart's autobiography, Act
One, which is more a story of the1
American theatre than of any one
man.
Hart's rare insight, tempered,
with penetrating wit and a flare
for satire, alters his own personal
recollections into a captivating
portrait - of the demanding, per-
verse, capricious - but always
enchanting world of show business.
Name-dropping, sentimentality
and tasteless soul-barring are pit-
falls that most authors of auto-
biographies, particularly recent
ones by theatre personalities, all
too willingly tumble into. Hart
agilely avoids such traps. Act
One's top position on the best-sell-
er list is adequate testimony that
a satirical look at one's life and
milieu can be as satisfying as 300
pages of agonized self-analysis.
W HILE THE LONG, even tor-
turous, path to theatrical ac-
claim can be depicted in numer-
ous ways, Hart choses to regard
it more as Alice's path through
Wonderland than the Burma Road.
His pen can be barbed, his satire
can be merciless, but Hart is never
bitter. He manages to look back
in amusement upon some most
painful experiences and some
highly unkind cuts.
It might be a mistake to attri-
bute such tactics to any surplus
of good nature in Hart's character.
The man who collaborated with
George S. Kaufman (You Can't
Take It with You, The Man Who
Came to Dinner) and revered
Alexander Wollcott is undoubtedly
capable of artistically executed
nastiness.
Hart manages to view his own
struggle in the theatrical jungle
with the same mellowed mirth
that pervades his plays and is cur-
rently represented on the Ameri-
can stage by his production of My
Fair Lady.
THE THESIS that unhappiness,
created by poverty, is the great
impetus to achievement, particu-
larly in the theatre, is the core of
Hart's autobiography. He muses
on his childhood, peopled with a
rather diverse collection of rela-
tives, and discovers the choice of

playwriting as the logical if some-
what belated answer to the dilema
of poverty and insecurity.
Hart totally involves his reader
in the life of a boy who means
nothing to his contempories un-
til that magical moment when they
learn -- and he learns -- that he
is a fine storyteller. He tenderly
describes his eccentric aunt who
had the carriage and tastes of an
English aristocrat - on the salary
of a Bronx cigar-maker.
In adolescent anguish he recalls
"the most misbegotten idea ever
spawned by Aunt Kate," dinner at
her place of employment - The
Clara De Hirsch Home for Work-
ing Girls. If God protects the work-
ing girl, He doesn't appear to
notice young Hart's plight as he
plies his way through six hundred
giggling staring girls to his place
at the head of the table while
"my aunt would ring out my name
like some terrible master of cere-
monies at a Rotary meeting."
PERHAPS the most riotous sec-
tion of the book concerns the
writing of Hart's first play-one
act a night for three nights-and
his incredible difficulty in claim-
ing its authorship.
After the failure of this first
masterpiece - perhaps the most
resounding thud in show business
history - Hart bounces his read-
ers through his summers as a so-
cial director.
Long by-gone is the wonderful
madcap daze of the Borsht Circuit
of adult summer camps to which
young secretaries and office boys
flocked looking for rich mates -
only to wind up finding one an-
other.
"I do not mean to suggest that
these camps were simply carnal
spots set in sylvan glades," says
Hart, "and certainly a great show
was made of sternly patrolling the
cabins but there can be no ques-
tion that the firm rock on which
the great popularity of summer
camps rested was the ageless Gi-
braltar of sex,"
VEN THE ageless humor of the
E social director's hectic life is
worn a bit thin after close to one
hundred pages of it. But those
who have supervised "activities"
at a summer camp will appreciate
Hart's chronicle of that unsung
hero who can spend 20 hours a
day being cheerful for the benefit
of people who had rather be off
making their own fun.
As gruelling as summer life is,
this is Hart's baptism in versatility
that proves a firm foundation for

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Moss Hart

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his life as a comic playwright. This
life begins with a play called,1
Once in a Lifetime and a colla-
borator named George S. Kauf-i
man.7
"If it is possible for a book ofl
this sort to have a hero, then that
hero is George S. Kaufman." Hart
does not appear to be exercising1
any false modesty in saying this.
The majority of his book is de-
voted to the production of his first
play-one of the most lengthy and
painful creative births ever de-
scribed.
His unabashed admiration for
his collaborator during this period
shifts the center of Hart's auto-
biography from himself to a por-
trait of one of the American thea-
tre's greatest characters.
KAUFMAN'S eccentricities cause
Hart some difficulties - such
as practically starving to death,
but it is Kaufman's patience and
Hart's belief in their play that
finally achieves its success.
Hart's book ends with his first,
rather amazing success. He races
briefly into his future through-
out the book describing the great-
est trial of success, the problem of
finally having money and not be-
ing quite sure what to do with it.
With a cryptic pathos Hart
shows himself buying gold ciga-
rette cases that remained unused,
buying houses which were lavishly

furnished and sold immediately
thereafter.
A friend regarding the hundreds
of trees planted on Hart's estate
remarked, "Just what God would
have done, if He had the money."
Hart's chronic appetite is easily
recognizable - too easily so - as
the hunger of the poor boy for
riches and fame. He perhaps over-
emphasizes the influence of pov-
erty on his life to the exclusion of
that peculiar affinity for the thea-
tre that clearly is a dynamic force
behind his achievement.

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1960

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