Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


THE FIREBIRD (1934). Director: William Dieterle.

"It's modern youth trying to grope its way through the moral chaos that's all around us!"

In Vienna Carola Pointer (the always vivid Verree Teasdale) is happily married to John (that fine actor Lionel Atwill) but she's a bit stuffy, and troubled by their daughter Mariette's (Anita Louise) fascination with modern, erotic music such as Stravinksy's Firebird (which plays over the credits and sporadically thereafter), which Carola thinks is "for savages." Carola is shocked when a neighbor, the licentious Herman Brandt (Ricardo Cortez), confesses that, in modern parlance, he has always had a thing for her. Later on, Brandt is found murdered, and there's gossip about a woman being seen sneaking into his apartment at night on a regular basis. Suspicion falls upon household staff, John's sister, Carola -- there's suspense over exactly which woman was presumably succumbing to Brandt's charms and may have dispatched him. As a mystery this may not be great shakes, but it's the excellent acting from the entire cast that puts it over. This includes C. Aubrey Smith, who plays the wise, understanding policeman assigned to the case.

Verdict: More quaint than "savage" by today's standards, but an interesting curio. **1/2.

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