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February 07, 1957 - Image 23

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Michigan Daily, 1957-02-07
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Page Fourteen

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, February 7, 1957

Thursday February 7 1957

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

'THE KING

AND

I'.

It Still Remains a Photograph of a Broadway Play

A Finnish Journey
Traveling in the Pine-Wrapped Corner of the Eart]

By ERNEST THEODOSSIN
THE KING AND I, one of last
year's most prosperous Holly-
wood productions, is sure tr be
mentioned as a possible Academy
Award contender in tha next few
weeks, a situation eml-'assing to
those who consider films a dif-
ferent medium from the stage.
Hollywood has surely dne better
by The King and I than by its
Rodgers and Hammerstein pre-
decessors. Oklahoma and Carous-
al. The latest -^duction is prob-
ably as charming and delightful
"pure entertainment' as one is
likely to uncover for many years.
Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner,
whc play the respective leads of
Mrs Anna a'v' the King, work to-

gether with such precision and
gEnuine grace, that on their merits
alone The King and I deserves rec-
ognition.
The King and I is vicually im-
pressive, with tons of colossal
scenery, tuneful, rnd full of good-
natured iun-but it is mostly what
the publicity department calls
"faithful to the original," which
means, in this instance as in
others, that it is a filmed stage
production and not a movie.
THE cinematography devised by
Director Walter Lang for The
King and I consists of an infinite
number of dull, listless box shots,
where the camera is pointed head
on and movement is restricted toj

the film's participants. This makes
the artist's camera serve the same
function that a newsreel camera
serves, recording an occurrence
for the masses, in this instance a
Broadway musical.
For example, in the "Shall We
Dance" polka, the dancers are per-
sirtently photographed from the
same angle: the distance may
vary, but the position does not.
Not using the devise of having the
camera follow the performers,
giving added movement, provides
a good illustration of Director
Lang's lack of imagination.
What the film audience sees is
exactly what a theater audience
would see, if its members were free
to change seats. In fact, all of

Jerome Robbins' choreography,
originally designed for the stage
where only one wall is cut away,
remains the same in the film.
EVEN MORE disconcerting is Mr.
Brynner's "It's A Puzzlement"
number, which is staged facing
the audience: this is fine in the
theater, ridiculous on the screen.
And then there are the little asides
to the audience-sometimes just
a glance, at other times entire
lines. What makes these theatri-
calisms extremely disconcerting is
that they jarr the mood of Holly-
wood realism that Director Lang's
property men and set designers
have tried to achiave: these stage
gimmicks are completely out of

Melpar to Interview Engineers,
Physicists and Mathematicians

place.
The same can be said for the
staging in such numbers as "Get-
ting To Know You," with its hori-
zontal hand-shaking movements,
and the "Small House of Uncle
Thomas Ballet," photographed on
a stage 1n the palace. This is not
screen darce; it is stage dance
filmed.
THE ENTIRE point to this is
that what there is of value
in The King and I and indeed
there is much om value, owes its
excellence to its performers and
to Rogers and Hammerstein.
Furthermore, the problem here
is one which has existed for many
years in Hollywood and is only
brought to immediate evidence
with The King and I. The stand-
ard pattern in filming stage shows
has bzen to either follow the orig-
inal script to the letter, perhaps
providing a few exterior shots, or
to completely rewrite the original
work, sometimes to the extent of
doing new songs or adding and
subuxac ng characters Somewhere
between these two extremes-be-
tween the filmed play and the re-
worked movie-lies the answer to
a successful transference of thea-
ter to the screen.
The two mediums derr- -. dis-
similar approaches, and they de-
mand individual artistic imagi-
nation: Director Lang has supplied
n ne of these, and he has hence
achieved what an astute investor
might have achieved, if to a lesser
degree, had he just placed a cam-
era before a stage presentation of
The King and I.

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In addition, of course, the Com-
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Salaries at Melpar compare most
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dustry as a whole,

TRAVEL:
Finnish
Journey
(Continued from Page 11)
point of austerity. Yet to a strang-
er whom he had only met a few
hours before he was willing to
offer his money.
I thanked my friend very much
for his generosity but explained to
him, through the girl, that I
needed no money. I went on to
tell him who I was, where I had
been, and, briefly, where I was
going. The others seemed satis-
fied with my account. When I
had finished, the man spoke and
the girl translated; If I wouldn't
mind waiting an hour while he
took care of a few business mat-
ters, he would like me to continue
on with him to his home which
lay not too much further up the
northbound road where I could
have dinner and spend the night.
I thanked him again for his hos-
pitality and accepted. Then the
girl extended an invitation of her
own: Since I had an hour to spare,
would I like to come inside while
I waited and have a cup of coffee
with her and her mother? She
went on to say that she studied
piano in Helsinki during the win-
ter, and, if I liked, she would play
for me. Once more I accepted;
and I think Chopin will never
sound better to me than he did
that afternoon in a Finnish living-
room.
M y FRIEND picked me up later
and in anotherhour or so we
had arrived at his home - a
house, a barn, one or two out-
buildings, a forest to the rear, and
in front a lake. I had the feeling
that I had arrived at a frontier
settlement on the edge of a wilder-
ness where people have fought
hard to attain relatively little. It
was supper time and the other
mjembers of the family were in-
side; but when we drove up beside,
the house, several men, girls, and
children came out. They saw, of
course, that a stranger had come
and as we walked towards them
my friend began talking and I
heard him use the word that could
See FINLAND, Page 19

By WILLIAM WEST
WHEN I went to Europe in the
fall of 1954 to spend a year in
Germany as an exchange teacher,
I intended to travel as much as
possible in Central Europe; but I
had no intention of making a trip
to Finland. Of all the free coun-
tries of Europe, Finland seemed to
me the most remote, the most in-
accessible, and, frankly, the most
uninteresting.
While in Germany, however, I
had the good fortune to meet two
Finnish women at an internation-
al teachers' meeting and we be-
came good friends. They talked a
great deal about their country,
not with any sense of aggressive
patriotism but with a kind of
tested, tough devotion to a land
poor in physical resources but
strong in its readiness to fight and
sacrifice to keep its pine-wrapped
corner of the earth free. I became
convinced that the stories I had
heard about the "fearless Finns"
were correct, that they were a
people who understood arid cher-
ished the subtle quality of bravery.
I decided, in short, to go to Fin-
land.
My plan was, after visiting my
friends at Vamala and Tampere,
to hitch-hike to the far North,
crossing the Arctic Circle and
Lapland to reach Troms on the
northern coast of Norway, My
friends admonished me not to
make the attempt. In the first
place, they said, roads in Finland,
outside the coastal regions of the
South, are unpaved and generally
not good. Furthermore, what
roads there are have little traffic
and the possibilities for lifts are
scarce. Moreover, they reported,
almost no one hitch-hikes in Fin-
land and drivers might not even
realize what I wanted if I stood
by the road and raised a thumb
as they drove past.
What they told me was true.
But they forgot that one aspect
of bravery is the ability to extend
hospitality and since the success
or failure of hitch-hiking depends
upon the hospitality (or bravery)
of the drivers one encounters,they
were not altogether right in warn-
ing me against the trip. I think it
very probable that anyone who
hitch-hikes through a country
knows something rather important
about its people; because it is not
the timorous, the anxious, who
stop for riders. As for the Finns?
Let me tell of one day's experience.
I WAS ON the road just north of
Jyvagkyl one morning about
nine o'clock when I heard a car
approaching some distance behind
me. It was not yet visible because
of the trees which flanked the
winding road but the sound of the
tires working over the gravel gave
warning. I turned to face the car,
set my bag on the ground at my
feet where the American flag,
which I had sewn to it, was visible,
and put out my thumb. The car
appeared moving fast, came near,
and stopped suddenly at my side.
Because I speak no Finnish, I
opened my map outside the car
and indicated on it the route I

was travelling. The man inside,
however, in his late 30's or early
40's, seemed uninterested in my
map; he smiled and beckoned for
me to get in.
Our language handicaps im-
mediately became apparent. First
he addressed me in Finnish, to
which I could only shake my head.
I, in turn, tried him in English
and German with similar results.
Next my companion pointed to the
flag on my bag and then at me;
I nodded in the affirmative. Then
he pointed to the trade name on
the dash board of his car and I
saw that it was a Russian manu-
facture. He glanced over to see
how I had taken the news and I
smiled. He, in turn, laughed; I
laughed, too, and away we went,
more comfortable than before in
the knowledge that communica-
tion and laughter were possible
even without words.
I had five Finnish words at my
command. I could say "yes," "no,"
"beautiful," "good," and "thank
you." Occasionally I would let my
companion know that I found the
silent, stately landscape of pine
and rock "Kaunis" (beautiful);
and when' the car crashed in and
out of a particularly nasty chuck-
hole from time to time with ap-
parent ease, I indicated that it
was, after all, "hyva" (good). I
had brought, before leaving Jyvas-
kyla, a Finnish-English phrase
book and in-between holes and
bumps, I began leafing through it
to see if I could find some appro-

priate phrases. Unfortunately the
book contained little of worth;
such phrases as "Please pass the
potatoes," and "What time does
the five o'clock train leave for
Helsinki?"
AT NOONTIME, we arrived at
a small town which, like most
Finnish towns that I saw, seemed
only temporarily to have displaced
the original forest. The houses
were low and built of wood; and
though sturdy, they were unob-
trusive and quiet in design. My
companion was obviously well-
acquainted with the place because
he drove without hesitation to a
modest hotel in the center of town.
As he got out of the car, I as-
sumed that this was the end of the
ride. However, he motioned for
me to follow so I went with him
into the hotel.
Inside, he led the way to the
rather awkwardly modern dining
room. We seated ourselves and in
a moment the waitress appeared
with mefius. After looking at
mine, I shrugged my shoulders;
but my companion took matters
in hand and proceeded to place
the order.
To my surprise, however, the
waitress only brought food for me
and the meal she placed on the
table was not only generous, it
was practically vigorous: meat,
potatoes, vegetables, salad, milk,
and desert. By miming the eating
gestures and pointing at him, I
asked my companion if he weren't

hanidsome

comfc

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eating, too; but he shook his head
and rose from the table. I had no
idea at the time where he was
going. While I ate he moved
around the restaurant addresing
some few words to everyone there;
and I discovered later that he was
trying to find someone who spoke
my own language.
By the time I'd finished, he was
sitting opposite me again with a
pleased expression on his face.
The waitress returned with the
check which he took and insisted
on paying even though I protested
as much as anyone can without
words by taking out my wallet
and showing him that I had suffi-

cien
cost
succ
as t
Myc
road
caller
infor:
Ever
at ar
a f
hous
up i
my c
whirl
They
hand
a few
to tr
drive
girl i
paus
caref-
plair
comi
who
ter m
an in
her
try t
comi
want
If I
pared
one
year
that
head
isola
wher

THE LAND OF THE GOLDEN NORTH
... the vast plains of Ostrobothnia

MIDNIGHT SUN IN FINLAND
... more than a finger on a map

TI

FEINERe
21 W. William Steet

GLASS & PAINT CO..
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Telephone NO 8-8014

Make Appointment Now For
Melpar Interview February 20th.
To secure an appointment with the Melpar representative when
he visits your campus, contact your Placement Officer today.
At the same time ask him for booklets on Melpar and the Wash-
ington, D.C. area. We believe you will find them of unusual
interest.

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