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February 28, 1960 - Image 15

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Suggested Selections for a Repertory Theatre

(Continued from Page 1 )
perform them here with the sort
of company he has been talking
"Though too much Ibsen seems
dead," Prof. Baird continued. "I'd
like to see him do Pillars of So-
ciety, Brand or Peer Gy.nt."

And some of the experimental
people," Prof. Halstead said. He
listed Brecht (The Three-penny
Opera). Beckett ( Endgame, Wait-
ing for Godot) and Pirandello.
Pirandello is still considered ex-
perimental only in terms of Ameri-
can theatre, he noted. "They stay-

ed away from our Right You Are
if You Think You Are."
Still, Prof. Halstead said, he'd
like to see Pirandello tried nere
There are other plays which
Ann Arbor audiences have prob-
ably never seen, plays which the
Halsteads wouldn't pick for speech
department play production be-
cause there are only one or two
good parts.
Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac is
a good example, according to Prof.
Halstead. 'Cyr umo' is a great part,
and Roxanne is not bad. butj
Christian and the others are two-
A repertory company builtI
around a big star-Olivier, Evans#
-could perform such plays. But
he doubts whether American audi-}
ences would want to see a big
romance of the C.rano type.
ONE OF THE functions of a rep-,
ertory company such as that
being discussed for Ann Arbor is
"extending the experience of the
audience "
In Ann Arbor, Prof. Baird said.
one must keep in mind the "needl
to get people in there" Plays of
the sort mentioned thus far would
have to be "sprinkled" into the
Contemporary works - those of
Miller, Inge, Hellman- ("if she
writes a new play"'-would have
to be included also.,
Tennessee Williams wouldn't
have to be included, in Prof. Hal-
stead's opinion, because local peo-
ple can see him' in the movies.
and in professional theatres in
Guthrie might be able to get
new scripts as they become avail-
able, Prof. Baird speculated.
Prof. Halstead disagreed. say-

Huston and The Black
ADirector's' Contribution
To The American Movies
By" STEPHEN 11111

J1led(e-A 4 Greek TrrgCIy

ing a local company could never
compete with Broadway for the
best new plays.
He agreed, however. that Guth-
rie's repertory "would have to be
much more popularly oriented"
than the list of plays they had
thus far run through. "Shaw.
O'Neill. Eliot or Fry, Shakespeare,

DTesir'e Inder The Elms

A Report From Great Britain

(Continued from Page 7
fnancial vicissitudes that the
present-day theatre is heir to. The.
Arts, The Royal Court & Theatre
Workshop struggle manfully and,
are in part. I believe, subsidized 1
from various sources. The govern-t
ment is notoriously slow to help
in this respect and the absence
of a National Theatre, long pro-,
jected and planned, is a disgrace.I
It seems from a recent incidentI
that financial support arrives onlyI
for the most dubious or patheticI
plays in the West End. Mr. Doug-l
las-Home's play, "Aunt Edwina,"t
where the heroine changes sex,
received a thunderous broadside
from the critics; there soon de-
veloped a considerable correspond-
ence between the author and cer;-
tain of the critics, notably Alan
Brian of The Spectator. which was
productive of much wit and acri-
The author sold his car to help1
"Auntie" run. various 'names'
added their platitudes to the small
pile of praise and a kind personI
provided 1,000 pounds to help the
play through Christmas: but the1
battle was lost when it was 'movedt
from the West End, and "Aunt.
Edwina" is now recuperating on
tour. John Osborne also had to
subsidize his musical. "The World1
of Paul Slickey," which was wel-
comed with chilly reviews and
eventually taken off.
of London's off - beat. 'off-;
Broadway' drama, and is con-
sistently championed by Mr.
Tynan. In a recent review of the
theatre of the Fifties (headlined1
Look Behind The Anger') Mr.
Tynan hailed Osborne as having
lanced a boil which had long been"
Plaguing the theatre:
"Good taste, reticence and
middle - class understate -
ment were convicted of hy- 1
pocrisy and jettisoned on ;
he spot; replacing them,.
ohn Osborne spoke out in ;
a vein of ebullient, free-
wheeling rancour that be- l
token the arrival of some- a
thing new in the theatre-- ;

a sophisticated. articulate
Just as the Forties saw the rise
of poetic drama with the rococo
wit of Christopher Fry and T. S.
Eliot's philosophical convolutions,
the late Fifties have produced
what has been termed "the kitch-
en sink" drama. The authors are
young, and angry, or at least per-
turbed by the complaisancy of the
world around them; their work
moves toward something fresher,
more closely allied to daily ex-
perience. While the direction of
this movement is certainly valu-
able, it has not, despite all the
critical adulation, produced really,
good plays.
"LOOK BACK in Anger" was
poorly constructed and as an
angry young man Osborne be-
trayed the futility that accom-
panies over-insistent spleen and
the immaturity that accompanies
youth. His musical play, although
as witty and pithy as Jimmy Por-
ter had been, bored with its in-
cessant battering of topics scarce-
ly meriting such treatment. When
Osborne learns that the best
drama makes some positive state-
ment on the humnan condition he
may produce s a great play: by
then, of course, he will be less
angry and less young.
More interesting than Osborne
and more indicative of human
compassion was "A Taste of
Honey" by Shelagh Delaney. The
author, nineteen when she wrote
the play, was the daughter of a
worker in an engineering factory
and she used the world and dia-
lect of the Lancashire environ-
ment in which she lived.
The story is of a sluttish, ne-
glectful mother who moves drunk-
enly from lodgings to lodgings, a
vulgar lover and a simple-minded,
sensitive daughter in tow. When
the daughter is seduced by a col-
oured student and her mother
leaves her, she is befriended by
a young homosexual artist; he is
eventually chased away by the
mother returning to do her duty
during her daughter's confine-

ANOTHER author of this type
of drama is Arnold Wesker: his
three plays "Chicken Soup and
Barley," "Roots," and "The Kitch-
en," come closer than many to
making of socialist realism a ve-
hicle for sound drama. The sec-
ond of these, the only one I have
seen, had a fine and moving last
act, but the slowness and insigni-
ficantly pedestrian manoeuvres of
the first two confirmed my feel-
ing that realism must be put to
some theatrical purpose and not
left to stand awkwardly by itself.
"The Kitchen," apparently, adds
to a sure perception of the sur-
face of life some equally keen re-
alization of the depths beneath.
Before passing to a final genre
of theatre which is perhaps the
most exciting and stimulating at
present, there are two good plays
which fit into no category and
which deserve a mention. Peter
Shaffer's 'Five Finger Exercise,"
which has arrived on Broadway,
and Willis Hall's "The Long and
the Short and the Tall." Both
these (and Mr. Hall's next, ap-
parently an epic play a la Brecht,
has been announced) were built
upon a strictly conventional pat-
tern, but transcended this by a
superb sense of theatre and a ma-
turity that is at present rare in
the West End.
FRANCE continues to entertain
us and Anouilh and Giraudoux
translations have delighted Lon-
don a u d i e n c e s. But recently,
through the kind auspices of the
Arth Theatre and the Royal
Court, we have been able to see
Beckett, Genet and Ionesco.
While these writers are natur-
ally interesting for themselves, the
last name has acquired great im-
portance by virtue of the sudden
appearance of an English dis-
ciple, N. F. Simpson. But he has
retained his own independence
and "A Resounding Tinkle," one
of his funniest plays, about a sub-
urban couple who nonchalantly
shelter an elephant in the garden,
is a brilliant analysis of suburb-
an inanity.

His latest, "One Way Pendu-
lum," again has a wild logic that
defies description. The leading
character is discovered trying to
train a set of weighing machines
(of the I-speak-your-weight va-
riety) into a Bach choir and his
father is in the process of making
his sitting room into a replica of
the Old Bailey Law Courts in a
bewildering fit of do-it-yourself
enthusiasm. Some of the wit mis-
fires for, as one critic pointed out,
there is little fun in a prolonged
game of three-handed whist
played in the dark.
IT IS A pity to have to dismiss so
much of the present work in the
London theatre. Good acting can
always be found, but it is fre-
quently wasted upon poor plays.
The paucity of intelligent and
stimulating drama may in part
be attributed to the timidity of
the London managements who
know only too well what Aunt
Edna most enjoys.
As some form of compromise
a series of fine adaptions have
recently appeared: two froml
Joyce-"Bloomsday" and "Ulysses'
in Nighttown"; Santha Rama
Rau's version of "A Passage to In-
dia" (presently at the Oxford
Playhouse, but as it has been
warmly received it may move to
London); an adaption by Sit
Michael Redgrave of Henry
James's "The Aspern Papers" in
which Redgrave gives a fine per-
formance, suitably Jamesian in
its nuances. London has also seen
a few good revivals, notably Dame
Peggy Ashcroft in "Rosmersholm,"
and some revues and musicals:
"West Side Story" and "Irma La
Douce" (from Paris) shone in this
Mr. Tynan has done much since
taking Aunt Edna to see "Separate
Tables;" his energy and enthusi-
asm were behind The Observer's
successful Play Writing Competi-
tion of two years ago; other critics
have joined battle. The West End
may yet see their ideals in full
favour and more plays of the kind
they advocate in regular perform-

perhaps a Restoration or Eight-
eenth Century, a Chekhov or
"He might tackle Greek trag-
edy." Oedipus and Medea are tho
most popular, and might be chosen
for that reason.
"I would so much rather have
him do something we haven't
seen." Prof. Baird asserted. The
Bacchae or the complete Oresteia
can be pretty exciting," she said.
"Guthrie has such a wonderful
theatric sense," Prof. Halstead
said. "He can take something un-
likely, and make it theatrical."
Prof. Baird mentioned his pro-
duction of Christopher Marlowe's
Tamburlaine the Great, quite suc-
cessful in London, less popular
in New York.
Were Guthrie here in Ann Ar-
bor, Prof. Halstead said. he should
be allowed to do literally "what-
ever he wants." He mentioned the
pre-Shakespearean slapstick com-
edy Gammer Gurton's Needle as
the sort of unlikely property Guth-
rie could bring to life.
Guthrie "is completely unique
among theatre people." Prof. Baird
THEY TURNED to speculation
on the sort of material Guth-
rie might} choose to put into a
He probably wouldn't want to
do The Dybbuk because he just
finished Chayeksky's The Tenth
Man in New York, Prof. Halstead
On the other hand. the con-
temporary story of Jewish exor-
cism might have interested him in
the older one, he said.
"I should hope Guthrie would
do Chekhov, Lorca, Racine or
Correille, Claudel or Camus," Prof.
Halstead said, summing up. "Clau-
del would be hard to sell. . .."
"He might be able to make
Brecht a popular draw . . . hot
Racine. . . .," Prof. Baird said,
thinking out loud.
"Possibly Lope de Vega," Prof.
Halstead added.
"In all the classics," he noted
parenthetically, "translation pre-
sents a serious problem."
Of the comedies of Aristophanes,
only The Birds by Kerr, The Frogs
by Arnott, and Lysistrata by Sel-
des seem playable.
"We haven't mentioned Schil-
ler," Prof. Halstead remembered.
"I don't care to see any more
Schiller for a while, thank you,"
his wife came back.
Commedia dell' Arte - Italian
improvisational comedy - should
also be included, Prof. Halstead
noted, but he knows of only one
good translation of Commedia-
type material, that of Goldoni's
Servant of Two Masters.

"Each director, in his own
way and in his own day, cre-
ated the best that the movies
had so far produced."
Lewis Jacobs,
Introduction to the
Modern Art of the Movies.
TOHN HUSTON. one of the most
brilliant of the generation of
great American directors who made
their debuts two decades ago (Zin-
nemann, Preston Sturges, Minnel-
i, Welles, Dassin, Dmytryk, Wil-
der) has created a number of
classic pictures which have brdken
new paths in our cinema and have
wielded considerable influence on
its development in the past twenty
He has been called 'a perfect
story teller whose visual style is
unsurpassed among American di-
rectors.' Huston's position has been
doubly important in that he has
both directed and written most of,
his films, which thus are essen-
tially the creations of a single film
Among his innovations are the
color and tinting techniques of
Moby Dick and Moulin Rouge
(which "revolutionized the indus-
try") and the realistic use of Mex-
ican locales in Treasure of the Si-
erra Madre, which gave rise to the
post-war international emigration
of Hollywood.
John Huston's stature as a cre-
ator in the film world is shown by
the fate of his brilliant first pic-
ture, The Maltese Falcone, ('41)
in comparison with two previous
film versions of the same story and-
with This Gun For Hire made by
Frank Tuttle at the same time.
The latter work was then more'
highly rated, and both early ver-
sions stood greater chances of suc-
cess. But all three have since
slipped off into' semi-oblivion,
while Huston's Falcon has gone
into the film society repertoire
with an ever-increasing reputa-
Huston's youth provided him
with plenty of experience of life:
professional boxer, stage actor7
(off-Broadway), lieutenant in
Mexican cavalry, writer of plays
and prose sketches. For those in-
terested in his personality, it
might be enlightening to read
White Hunter, Black Heart by
Peter Viertel (London '54), which
allegedly depicts him under the
alias of "John Wilson."
Huston's physical appearance is
already familiar to sharp-eyed"
viewers of Sierra Madre, where
he has a few brief scenes as an
American - tourist being hit for a
soft touch by Humphrey Bogart.-
AFTER kicking around in Eu-
rope and the States for eight
years as a movie writer, bit player,
and magazine editor, he finally{
settled down to screen writing at
-Warner Brothers in 1938. He then
adapted, among others, an inter-
esting gangster melodrama Amaz-
ing Dr. Clitterhouse, which fea-.
tured Edward G. Robinson, Claire
Trevor, and Humphrey Bogart
(later to be reunited in his owns
Key Largo).
This film adaptation, an offbeat
story of a gang of people outside
the law, told with much humor,<
and with the then little-known
Bogart in the cast, was to set a
pattern for the rest of John Hus-
ton's career.
This was followed by otherc
scripts and an original play on
Woodrow Wilson In Time To
Come), which preceded by three
years Henry King's famous Wil-'P
son ('44), an outstanding film bi-
ography and a sincere treatment
of Wilson's ideals - as was Hus-
ton's play.

Then he was given a novel by a
ceutral figure in the U.S. detective
story fiield, W. R. Burnett, with
whom he prepared the secnario
of High Sierra in 1941. This film
proved to be the first in the cycle
of American "black films" (films
'noirs) which was dominant in this
country for a decade.
It was produced by the journal-
ist Mark Hellinger who later was
responsible for outstanding "black
films" like Brute Force and Naked
City, and was directed by Raoul
Walsh, who in the future was to
make one of the last and "black-
est" of the genre, White Heat
C49). Three of Walsh's assistants
on High Sierra subsequently be-
came directors themselves - Hus-
ton. dialog director Irving Rap-
per, and special effects man By-
ron Haskin.
The picture provided Bogart
with his first starring sympathetic
role - at the ripe old age of 42 -
after a long series of supporting
parts as heavies. And it was Bo-
gart wio became the prototype of
the good badman,. the tough,
hard-boiled hero, often a shady
private detective, who served as
the focus of every black film. He
also became Huston's favorite ac-
tor, appearing in six more of the
latter's films after High Sierra.
The mountainous terrain of the
Sierras Huston also found con-
genial and after the war put it
to magnificent use in Treasure of
Sierra Madre, in whichwe also
find a scene with the hero on a
mountainside besieged from below
by a group of armed men.
HIGH SIERRA posseses most of
the characteristics of the
black film as defined by Borde and
Chaumeton in their book Pano-
rama du film noir americain (Par-
is '55). The story is told entirely
from the outlaws' point of view,
and the police-if they appear-
are just as crooked as the crooks
(Barton MacLane plays a corrupt,
double-crossing ex-cop).
The plot revolves around a big
armed robbery, carefully planned
by a small band of criminals-
here, they attempt to steal half a
million from a resort hotel.
The protagonist (Bogart as Roy
Earle, the gang leader) is no mati-
nee idol but rather middle-aged
and not very handsome (even his
hair was tinted gray for the role).
The gun moll heroine (Ida Lupino

New innovations used in Moby 1

.here, later succeeded by Mary As-'
tor and Lauren Bacall) is no Pol-
lyanna but equals the protagonist
in hard-boiled cynicism and is at-'
tracted to him precisely by his
aggressive virility.
This fatal love affair, however,
almost always ends tragically,
through death of the hero or, as
in the Falcon, arrest of the hero-
Because of the blurring of the
line between right and wrong, the
crooks gain a certain measure of
sympathy from the audience-
here Earle never shoots first and
kills a resort guard only in self-
defense, sends his moll away from
danger, has a little pet dog, and
even pays for an operation to heal
a lame girl-with borrowed mon-
ey. But the protagonist's dreams
are never realized, the end is us-
ually tragic, and there is bitter-
ness throughout.
IN High Sierra, a typically "black"
episode has Joan Leslie, cured
of a clubfoot by Earle's generosity,
reject him and his" love for a di-
vorced gigolo. An unwilling ac-
complice as the gang's inside man,
Cornell Wilde in one of his first
films, is portrayed as a spineless
coward who loses his head during
the robbery.
The only typical feature of the
black-film-and its most unpleas-
ant one--lacking here is the pre-
occupation with violence and bru-
tality which came later, after the

cruelty and brutality endured in
World War II had taken effect on
film makers. Generally, however,
Huston never went into this aspect
of the genre, and sadistic beatings
and refined killings remained, for-
tunately, foreign to his work.
High Sierra was honored by a
remake (unsuccessful) 14 years
later: I Died a Thousand Times,
with Jack Palance and Shelly Win-
ters. By that time the cycle had
runs its course. But the original
version remains significant as a
-likely candidate for the first black
film. As Borde , and Chaumeton
say, "The history of the movies is
to a great extent 'a history of se-
ries .. . often a great film is un-
classable only because it is the
first of a new series ,. .
In spite of this significance for
the genre and for the careers of
all its maker, High Sierra was not
a particularly good piece of cine-
ma in itself. The plot was too ram-
bling, the supporting roles unde-
fined, the robbery sequence-which
should form the focal point of the
entire picture--was only another
episode, and generally the film was
taken too seriously by its makers.
These defects were remedied by
Huston a few months afterward
on his first chance at directing his
own work-The Maltese Falcon.
TPHIS tour de force, as mentioned
above, has become an all-time
gangster classic. It is considered
by the French critics as the first
real black film. It has everything
missing in High Sierra--a 'tight
plot; casting of all the roles as
near perfection as is possible (Bo-
gart, Mary Astor,,Sydney Green-
street, Peter Lorre, 'and Elisha
Cook Jr. all made careers for
themselves in subsequent parts
bas'ed on those they played in the
The climax-the gang's getting
possession of the statuette and the
ironic payoff-was well built up to
and excellently brought off; and
the sinister doings were spiced'
with plenty of humor, especially'
in Sam Spade's by-play with the
would-be tough guy Wilmer -(Cook)
or the delicately sinister Joel'
Cairo (Lorre).
This film is typical of- Huston's
works in all these respects, and
also in its faithfulness to the orig-'
inal; Huston, with the exception+
of Three Strangers, has neverE
written an original screen play, but1
has restricted himself to cine-
matically inventive adaptions of
others' work. f
Here he took Dashiell Ham-
mett's "classic parody" of the de-
tective novel and transferred its
style very successfully to the
screen, so that the best quality of
the film is its perfect visual inte-
gration into the plot of the nov-
el's fascinating range of charac-
terization. "

F tog
a g
of f
to t
a la

y JJ
John Huston


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