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March 20, 1971 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-03-20

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I
Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Saturday, March 20, 1 X71

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, March 20, 1971 4

Marx's Russia:

Never

like this

'Siamese

Connections':

A

By GAIL LENHOFF VROON
The Twelve Chairs offers a
glimpse of the rustier side of
the Iron Curtain. With elegant
vulgarity it unfolds the uproar-
ious antiworld of society's most
engaging parasites. One suspects
that Marx had something oth-
er in mind than this particular
brand of dialectical materialism.
It all begins when the dying
Klavdia Ivanovna Petyxa (Rus-
sian for 'rooster') confesses that
she has sewn her diamond nest-
egg into one of twelve chairs,
left behind during the revolu-
tion. The twelve chairs by now

are scattered from Leningrad to
Irkutsk, Siberia.
From that point on, we are
propelled backwards through
the workers'. paradise into pre-
revolutionary Russia. The pace
is dizzying as we accompany the
aging aristocrat Ippolit Voro-
byaninov, a Slavic Don Quixote,
jousting against the windmills
of drunken peasants,., housing
committees and petty clerks.
Vorobyaninov is played by
Ron Moody, a versatile and
highly skilled actor. Moody's
control is phenomenal. He in-
vests the slapstick tone of the
film w it h Stanislavskian dig-

nity. His timing and gestures
are beautiful to watch. In his
most comic moments, he man-
ages to retain a bitter-sweet
sense of a lost era.
H is erstwhile partner-in-
crime is t h e notorious Ostap
Bender, a man dedicated to the
cheerful picking of society's col-
lective pocket. In this case, you
are advised to consult Ilf and
Petrov's novel. For James Lang-
elle's acting jags behind the rest
of the cast and sadly mangles
the character of Ostap Bender.
Father Feodor, racing against
Vorobyaninov and Bender f o r
the chairs, is portrayed by Dom

de Luis. Masked as a hefty Rus-
sian peasant woman, pouncing
on Siberian engineers and dis-
emboweling chairs with a pas-
sion, his performance ranges
f r o m hilarious to vulgar. He
camps a bit too much, roaring,
squealing and grimacing Fa-
ther Feodor into a grotesque.
At his worst, he provides a cold
blast of Stanley Kramer slap-
stick.
He was clearly encouraged to
let himself go by the director
Mel Brooks. A competent char-
acter actor, Brooks restrains
neither his cast nor himself. He
reveals comic talents as Tikhon,
former servant of Vorobyaninov.
In a beautifully timed scene,
Tikhon begs his master to hit
him, for old times sake. Voro-
byaninov casually delivers a
crippling blow a n drTikhon
sinks happily to the floor,
Brooks has successfully man-
aged a cross between Eisenstein
and Mack Sennet. The first 20
minutes of the film are partic-
ularly fine. The composition is
masterful as isethe color. Gold
Persian ' rugs and ikons o v e r
Klavdia Ivanovna's death bed
evoke the absent gold brocade
chairs. Color groupings of red
velvet curtains, peasant shawls
and oriental patterns fade into
the soft green of fields and pine
forests - then erupt ,into the
rainbow of crowds.
The camera follows the ac-
tors isolating them to minia-
tures against blurred back-
grounds. Vorobyaninov, particu-
larly, is photographed so as to
catch h i s dignified, mournful
features and facial gestures.
Clever signs placed strategic-
ally on trucks and passers-by
add to the comic irony. My fav-
orite is the poster announcing
the performance of :Hamlet and
the October Revolution. By Wm.
Shakespeare and Ivan Popov.
The Twelve Chairs stands in
refreshing contrast to the dreary
majority of contemporary films,
well worth the price of admis-
sion.
WIZARD
OPEN ING
FRIDAY 19th
A Room Full of
PINBALL
AT
MARK'S Coffeehouse
605 E. WILLIAM
10:00 a.m. till Midnight

study
By JOSEPH BRADY
More than one stand can be
taken with regards to the mer-
its and aims of Dennis Rear-
don's haunting play, Siamese
Connections. For all its minor
flaws, it is a moving play,
brought to life by a capable
crew and cast in this "world
premiere."
In the play, the choice plums
go to the male actors, since it
is their characters which stand
out, fully fleshed in all their
subtle conflicts and confusions,
their highly personal faults and
virtues. Since Reardon relies
chore on character deliniation
through what is said about each
character than what is said by
him, the male characters must
of necessity be better rounded
out, because it is they who are
most talked about throughout
the play. I doubt -if the author
had any male chauvinistic mo-
tivations in that respect; he very
likely understood his male char-
acters best, and wisely chose to
emphasize what ,he knew.
However, because his people
are all types-archetypes when
at their finest-it is regrettable
that some of them fall short
and become flat, two-dimen-
sional stereotypes instead.
Among the lesser-drawn char-
acters, Granny Kroner stands
out best. She is, in Albee-like
fashion, a tragi-comic figure-
head of the crumbling family,

in clu
falling in and out of her senses,
gumming her peaches and po-
tatoes one moment with infan-
tile testiness and uttering preg-
nant thoughts like, "Every day
the sky comes closer to the
ground," the next. She is played
with delightful believability by
Fay Sappington.
Helen Stenborg does her best
with the role of Kate Kroner,
but without much background
delineation, her position as the
trapped mother of the house-
Joe Brady's review in Friday
morning's paper was of Siamese
Connections, by Dennis Rear-
don, and not Ransom Jeffrey's
The Refusal. The Daily regrets
the error.
hold becomes singularly unsing-
ular, and her hopelessness to
cope with life's disappointments
arouses little sympathy. The
same can be said for Bonnie
Gallup's Gretchen-the stereo-
typed farmer's daughter from
across the fields, unloved as a
child, now searching for what-
ever she can get, from one
Kroner brother to the next. She
was alternately sexy, Southern,
coarse, and anxious for affec-
tion - like any unloved South-
ern farmer's daughter, from
God's Little Acre to Tobacco
Road.

iracteriza tion

In the case of the youngest
son-James Kroner, very cap-
ably played by John Savage
with echoes of early James Dean
-the pivotal character of the
neurotic son, also unloved and
in need of affection but far
more complex in his hiding and
display of it, the figure is at
once terrifying and immanent-
ly tragic. And believable and
recognizeable in our society -
a r c h e t y p a 1, not superficial.
When he strikes out either with
violence or demonic smile to
conceal his turbulent undercur-
rent of feelings, we understand,
empathize and pity, without
judgment.I
Frank K r o n e r, Junior, pro-
vided a beautiful contrast to
his younger brother - easy-go-
ing, not-too-bright, blond and
husky, easily-liked. And the pos-
sible instigator of the rivalry be-
tween them. Ronny Cox with
winning smie and casual light-
ness ably plays the role.
Ward Costello's part as Frank,

Senior, interpreted the male
roles as the Willy Loman-type
of person who wanders explo-
sively but ineffectually through
his wcrld of collapsing dreams
and pretensions. And Chester
Smith looked and played the
hired man with some appeal.
It might be mentioned that
there is, perhaps intentionally,
an interesting comparison in the
names of Willy Loman and
Frank Kroner-Loman, signifi-
cantly reflecting the salesman's
position in life, and Kroner,
ironically crowning the impov-
erished family that would never
wear a crown.
The same could be said for
John Duffy's music, which was
delightful to hear, and which
would be nice in concert form
after s o m e modifications, but
which was not needed, because
the play was capable of stand-
ing on its own merits quite well
without it.

I

NOMINATED FOR
ACADEMY i
AWARDSN
BEST PICTURE
BST DTRIRECTOR
BEST ACTRESS GP
BEST ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL SCORE

Saturday, March 20
HOWARD HAWKS, FESTIVAL
EL DORADO
El Dorado promises to add a crucial element to the
festival. It marks Hawks' answer to those who sug-
gest he is losing his mastery of film. Robert Mitchum
is an alcoholic. John Wayne is paralysed by a bullet
that strikes his spine. The film erupts in a burst of
color, gun shots, bells'and player pianos.
-Michigan Daily
7 & 9:05 P.M. 75c ARCHITECTURE
602-8871 AUDITORIUM
Sun., March 21-Only Angels Have Wings

^,
' '

PAR ,,e,& ,,' PIIURS PSEld
Ali Mac~raw- Ryan O'Neal
A HOWARD G MINSWY-ARTHUR HILLER Production
John Marley & Ray Milland

'i

603 E. Liberty
DIAL 5-6290
Doors Open 12:45
Shows at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
Free ListS"s"e"de

vwfvwf

A

(aTI T4!Idc1

I'l

pre r~s Icne

"Hadrian VII," the fascinating New York and London stage success about a man who dreams that he
is Pope, plays Monday and Tuesday, March 22 and 23, at 8:30 p.m. in Hill Auditorium as part of the
Professional Theatre Program Play-of-the-Month Series.

The Michigan Daily, edited and man-
aged by students at the University of
Michigan. News phone: 7640552. Second
Class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Mich-
igan, 420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor,
Michigan 48104. Published daily Tues-
day through Sunday morning Univer-
sity year. Subscription rates: $10 by
carrier, $10 by mail.
Summer Session published Tuesday
through Saturday morning. Subscrip-
tion rates: $5 by carrier, $5 by mail.
Ude AD
Aw@p

DOORS OPEN 12:45
SHOWS AT 1-3-5-7-9 P.M.
NEXT: "GOING

-Wanda Hale. New York Daily News
DOWN THE ROAD"

GRAND SPECTACULAR! Direct fk e USSR!
The Thrilling
SIBERAN
1% t mdhr fno ..

Iif A I' E/ItV-, A HU

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