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

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Colbert gives a come hither look in "Four"

FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE (1934). Director: Cecil B. DeMille.

"This is practically virgin territory."

"Perhaps that's why Corder doesn't like it."

When bubonic plague breaks out on a ship, four passengers escape in a small boat and wind up in Malaya, where they have to go through a jungle with various pitfalls to, hopefully, make it to civilization. The four are geography teacher Judy Jones (Claudette Colbert), reporter Stewart Corder (William Gargan), society do-gooder Mrs. Mardick (Mary Boland), and unhappily married Arnold Ainger (Herbert Marshall). Leo Carillo plays Montague, who guides the four through the jungle. The prim, unsophisticated Judy blossoms into a woman during the trek, and soon Corder and Ainger are competing for her, even as some natives want to keep portly Mrs. Mardick prisoner until the others can return with her weight in rice. The rather dull narrative [despite all the goings-on] is briefly enlivened by the appearance of a carnivorous plant that eats a cute animal, and a playful chimp [probably played by the famous, talented Cheetah] who steals Judy's shoes. Colbert is initially quite good in the film, completely de-glamorized, but later on becomes shrill and irritating, overplaying every scene; the other actors are fine. Colbert gave some fine performances, but this is not one of them. DeMille made some great movies, but this is a tiresome throwaway, pretentious and often predictable.NOTE: This is the shorter 78 minute version, which is quite long enough.

Verdict: One trip through the jungle you can avoid. **.

No comments: