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now stand, the remedy may be found have taken over the management of the might flow from the adoption of such a when Congress gets ready to delegate biggest business enterprise in the world? measure, one has but to look at the recsome of its tax-assessing power to a The biggest business of the world might ord of the Federal Reserve Board—with commission with authority to act as and appoint a competent "general manager," power—or the Inter-State Commerce when any particular item in the tariff so to speak, of its tariffs; a permanent, . Commission, or even at the Supreme needs revising. be it upward or down non-partisan Tariff Board with powers- Court of the United States. Nobody has ward. When will politicians get it out not to be changed because of change in yet come forward who could honestly of their heads that the tariff needs revis- Administrations. If a conspicuous ex say that any of these bodies of men were ion because a new set of executives ample is needed of the success that influenced by politics.
TN the Wisconsin town of six thou
audience of equal significance. That sand where I live the moving-picture
was in the days of the Elizabethans in I theater is like a hundred others
London. There was such an audience that I know, from New York to the
then, motley, enthusiastic, regularly atOzark Mountains. From its arched
tending. It packed the playhouses from white-and-gold entrance a flood of amber
the beginning of the history of the comlight streams across the pavement. The
mercial theater, years before good plays girl ticket-seller stands in a domed
were offered by the managers and before Oriental booth, chopping twenty-two cent
there was one talented professional playadmission tickets from a little machine.
wright. The apparent enthusiasm of Tri-colored posters in violent drawing
the Elizabethan crowd for cheap meloadvertise the nightly change of bill.
dramas, low comedies, and plays with And, no matter what the evening's offer
unclean dialogue and situation worried ing may be, into the theater and out of
the literary critics and the social reit surges the crowd. The whole town,
formers of that time just as our mania all sorts of people, flock to the theater as
for the movies worries many thoughtful an established habit.
people to-day. That sixteenth-century Our townspeople form but part of the
mob of English show-lovers, however, regular audience. Just before the first
proved to have a force which called show in the evening, if you happen to be
their own playwrights into being, and driving in the country, you may look in
so created what is now referred to as all directions and see lines of automo
the golden age of English drama. Even bile lights speeding along the roads
a faint chance that the American toward a common focus. They are head
moving-picture audience may have a
LONDON, ing for the movies. If it be Friday or Prlated for Ishoe Wright, and are to be fold at his shop
similar force seems to me to give mean
Without Newgate, at iber Saturday night, the street outside the
ing and excitement to a comparison. theater and the adjacent side streets
In 1586 or 1587, when an unknown will be parked thickly with the farmers' TITLE-PAGE FROM CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE'S
young man named Shakespeare came to Fords. Not even the dances which are
London from his home village to see
"DR. FAUSTUS" going on in at least two halls, so near
what the city had to offer him, the Engthat the jazz music carries plainly to the her husband to town. Since the movies lish theater, in any modern sense of the Majestic's ticket window, can keep the came to the mountains times have word, was only a few years older than country boys and girls away from the changed. Last summer I looked about the movies are at the present time. The show.
the dusty hall where the pictures are first modern English comedy, "Ralph Last summer I revisited a mountain shown. The people from my valley were Roister Doister," written by a teacher valley in southeast Missouri after an there, and it was evident that they were for a school performance, had appeared absence of four years. It is twelve miles accustomed theater-goers. Whether the in 1551. Since then London had been to the county seat, and the trip over a movies are wholly responsible for this going theater-mad. Our first movingboulder-strewn road in a mountain latter miracle I cannot say, but I do picture shows were put on by the Edison wagon jolts for two hours. When I know that no mountain man is going to Vitascope Company in 1896, since when lived there formerly, it took an annual labor at road-building when the road we have been going movie-mad. Baptist Assembly or an unbearable leads only to markets and the dentist. In the early days of the craze sixtoothache to bring the average woman. It is like this all over the United teenth-century Londoners crowded to to the point of herding her flock of chil. States. In the history of the English inn yards, where the plays were given dren into the wagon and accompanying theater there has been but one other cheaply, very much as we in 1905 packed
neighborhood store buildings and air- tors and play-carpenters naturally took presented, and at the performance made dromes, paying our nickel to sit on the easiest way. Just as ours do.
up speeches and action as they went kitchen chairs before a stretched cotton Only a few of the plays produced in along. I have read that successful movsheet and watch the first flickering ver- the commercial theater before 1587 were ing pictures are produced in as sponsions of the Bill Hart school of drama. published. Fewer still are available to taneous a fashion, a director with a By the time Shakespeare came to Lon modern readers. Yet we can form some megaphone calling necessary informadon Richard Burbage, the manager from idea of the stuff they were, both from tion about the plot to the players, who whom he secured work as an actor, had the plays which immediately followed quickly mold facial and bodily expresbuilt a playhouse, and rival managers them and from the criticism of literary sion to suit the story. had followed suit. For an infant indus- men and social reformers of the period. None of this is calculated to satisfy try the theatrical business was booming. Scenes set in Spain were popular with a highbrow. The literary critics in It had its buildings, managers, com- young Elizabethans much as ranch Elizabeth's reign thought the theater panies of actors, and a considerable scenes are with young Yankees, and for hopeless. Books and pamphlets were number of actor-playwrights who were the same reason; that was a land where published to show that it was pandering willing to turn out cheap thrillers as one went, or dreamed of going, to get to the worst level of public taste. The fast as the managers would pay for adventure. Another type of play had a playwrights and actors were condemned them. Most important of all, it had the rich Jew for a hero-villain: the Jews as immature and ignorant. Roger whole of London for an audience crowd. represented big business to the sixteenth- Ascham, critic of repute who had been Everybody went to the theater except century imagination. The play-goer had tutor to Elizabeth, complained because Queen Elizabeth and some Puritans, and a chance to see these captains of com- English playwrights were not following the Queen had the companies act their merce in their counting-rooms, handling Greek and Roman models. The only plays for her at Court. You will remem- convincing-looking heaps of gold and English dramatist approved by Ascham ber that Mr. Wilson had frequent show- rubies and talking importantly of argo- was one Mr. Watson, of Johns College, ings of the movies at the White House sies and customs duties. Another favor- Cambridge, who wrote a tragedy. "Abduring his recent illness, when he could ite character with the crowd was the salon." but was so ashamed of using not go to a theater.
courtesan or, in a slightly modified anapests instead of iambics in a few For thirty-five years after its start the makeup, the fashionable woman of light places that he would never permit the English theater was just about as far character.
drama to be produced and gave up try. committed to commercialism as is our Notorious murders of the day were in ing to write for the theater. Even Sir moving-picture theater. And you will mediately turned into sensational bal. Philip Sydney, so generous in his apprekeep in mind. please, that the movies lads, printed, and sold on the streets; ciations, could foresee little from the are only twenty-five years old. The these ballads were dramatized, yellow vulgar drama of his time and condemned Elizabethan managers and their finan- details included, while the horror still the “naughty playmakers and stage. cial backers-noblemen who liked a good quivered in the mind of London. Recent keepers." show themselves and found it more ad- events, especially the lives of popular The social reformers, among whom, vantageous to help maintain a fairly contemporary heroes, such as Sir strangely enough from our modern point good company playing in a public thea- Thomas More, were used as material for of view, can be counted the London City ter than to keep a private troupe of crude historical plays. Our method in Council, declared with cause that the lower-grade actors-were out to make as the twentieth century in the movies is people of England, "specially youthes." much money and popularity as possible to engage the defendants in criminal were being harmed morally by "inorby entertaining the crowd. Murders trials and such National figures as Mr. dinant haunting of great multitudes to and kidnappings, scenes in insane wards J. Dempsey to present their cases or plays." and houses of prostitution, exciting triumphs in person.
“Look but upon the common playes in stories of high society, violent love. Much of the dialogue, and even of the London." cried a Puritan preacher making and raw comedy, were sure to plot, in an early Elizabethan play was named Wilcocks in an anti-stage sermon do the trick. And so the managers and impromptu. The actors had a general at Paul's Cross, London, in 1577. “See their rather ignorant staff of young ac idea of the plot outline of the play to be the multitude that flocketh to them and
followeth them: behold the sumptuous theatre houses, a continual monument of London's prodigality and folly."
Another clergyman, John Stockwood, complained from the same pulpit, pre
i sumably to a small congregation, "Wyll not a fylthe play wyth the blast of a trumpette sooner call thither a thousande than an houres tolling of a Bell bring to the Sermon a hundred ?"
Boys and girls picked up dangerous acquaintances at the theater, its opponents stated with truth. There were ugly stories around London of young girls, daughters of good citizens, who had fallen into bad company through their habit of play-going and after that had followed evil ways. Echoes from some of these reports even got into the proceedings of the City Council. Censorship was tightened; plays, players, and theater buildings all had to have licenses, and these could be revoked at the discretion of the city officials. Players giving "naughty playes" were arrested. By city ordinance all performances had to be given by day, so the audience could reach home before sunset. The theaters were always closed in time of epidemic. At such times as the doors were open,
THE GLOBE THEATER however, the people poured in. They were easily pleased and not at all delicate in matters of taste. They preferred Renaissance were glorifying trickery Marlowe, Robert Greene, Thomas Kyd, jokes and sex appeal unexpurgated. Yet and sensual cruelty English writers and and George Peele. Five years more, and at bottom, with regard to things which audiences, even in plays which seem to it had created Shakespeare. they felt to be essential, they were us coarse and violent to the point of At that rate of time progress, probably effectively critical. Art they did not madness, were giving their admiration the swiftest that the dramatic world has consider an essential, for the good rea- to kindness, faithfulness, and indepen- ever seen, the movies would have until son that they knew nothing whatever dence.
1936 to produce their first scenario about it. What they held out for was Such an audience creates a demand writers of significance and until 1941 to an ethical point: that their drama which creates playwrights. Within five launch a fully representative genius. should make a clear distinction between years from the time Shakespeare came Whether we shall have a golden age the basic elements of right and wrong to London, forty years from the start of in the movies depends, I believe, upon as seen by Englishmen. At a time when the modern English commercial theater, the existence of certain character eleItalian and French fiction writers of the that demand had created Christopher ments in the American audience. It
does not depend upon any feeling or lack of feeling which we may have shown in the past for other forms of art. We have the necessary initial passion for this one dramatic form. It happens to delight us as a Nation, and such popular delight is like the sun-without its warmth no drama can grow ripe and golden. In addition to the sun, theatrical art, like other growing things, requires soil. In the case of the movies, the elements of the soil are those which make up the essential character of our National audience.
What qualities will be developed in American scenario writers by our enthusiasm or checked by popular disapproval? Have we a strain of sentimentality which will prevent us from growing truthful playwrights? What about our present insistence upon a "happy ending”? Have we sturdiness with which to resist attempts at handing out economic or political propaganda, sugarcoated with drama?
It is too early for the productive force of the American audience to be determined, but upon it depends the future of
the movies as well as its influence upon THE STAGE OF A LONDON PLAYHOUSE IN SHAKESPEARE'S TIME
our own and coming generations.
IN REVIEW BEFORE NATIVES ON HIS ARRIVAL
The sign in background (combined with the ominous news from India) would indicate that the boycott on English goods is not complete! America has no monopoly of
HALF A DOZEN NOVELS
Dell is only occasionally and halfheartedly aware that his puppets are comic and not tragic, Miss Macaulay is slyly and quietly humorous to the finger tips. Her charming Gerda, like Mr. Dell's Rose-Ann, has the hectic flush of modernity. She simply can't think of marrying the man she loves, for "it isn't done, you know," by nice people nice not meaning respectable, you know, but the brilliant chaps and girls who are in the intellectual swim. Here is one bit of the author's irony:
Ten days later Gerda said to Barry, "I've been thinking it over again, Barry, and I've decided that perhaps it will be all right for us to get married after all."
Barry took both her hands and kissed each in turn, to show that he was not triumphing but adoring.
"You mean it? You feel you can really do it without violating your conscience? Sure, darling?"
"Yes, I think I'm sure. Lots of sensible, good people have done it
"Oh, any number, of course__if that's any reason.”
"Not, not those people. My sort of people, I mean. People who believe what I do, and wouldn't tie themselves up and lose their liberty for anything."
"I agree with Lenine. He says liberty is a bourgeois dream."
ASR. POOLE'S “Beggar's Gold" i is
in point of literary quality and I T human interest on a par with his best work. It is simpler in its lines than his more elaborate novels -that is, there are fewer characters and less divergence to the study of momentous questions. The title is explained by the little parable of the beggar who was sitting on a bag of supposed trash that turned out to be gold. It is expressed in the story of the life of a young married pair who are thwarted in their thirst for adventure in the Far East, but find as that dream recedes the true gold of work, love, and deep interest in what is near them. Yet at the very end events lead them to fare forth with their daughter to China to help—so they hope, at least-build a great nation. Possibly some readers may misinterpret two episodes in the husband's life—one when he, a New York City teacher, is interested in Socialism; the other when, after the armistice, he urges the right of liberty of speech, and loses his position there. for. But he is not at all a Bolshevist nor a pro-German. The author is not writing propaganda, but describing the man's development and intellectual biography.
The matrimonial ventures of Felix Fay of Mr. Floyd Dell's "Moon Calf" are related in "The Briary Bush.” The title might not unfitly indicate that matrimony is the bramble-bush of our Mother Goose memories, into and out of which an infantile hero whose name escapes me jumped. That is not actually Mr. Dell's allusion, which is decidedly more "literary.” Moreover, Felix, now less impetuous but quite as calfish, and Rose-Ann, his charming but uneasy bride, do not exactly jump out but feel that to be really modern and free they ought to jump over or break through or something, to show how very, very free and modern they are. Felix does misbehave himself in a joyless way. As a matter of fact, the young people love one another sincerely and might perfectly well make a devoted couple, each free to carry out art and social theories ad libitum. The trouble is that they are haunted with the feeling that it was hardly respectable for them to have been married, for Nietzsche and Greenwich Village and the sex-analysis modernists urged them to a better life.
Essentially this is humorous; but the young idiots themselves, with the connivance of the author, are so solemnly portentous about the egotistic involutions of Felix's desire to be above any human shackles, to bathe in beauty and revel in liberty, that the reader has to smile quietly and cautiously. Oh, Lib
erty, Liberty, Madame Roland might have said, how much drivel is talked in thy name! "Can't we stop talking about it?" Felix plaintively asks. They can't, and they don't.
Thanks be; one character, Rose-Ann's father, has an ironic sense of humor and sees the thing straight. He is worth all the rest of the novel's people put together, unless we except one motherly old woman who has no briary nonsense about her. There are in the book some capital descriptions or side glimpses of Chicago life in studio, social settlement, drama league, and newspaper work. The story is not at all boresome even if it does irritate one's nerve of reasonableness.
The exact difference between Mr. Dell's story and Miss Rose Macaulay's “Dangerous Ages"; is that, while Mr.
There are other women of "dangerous ages"—the intimation is that every age but serene old age is a dangerous age for a woman. Their respective plights are drawn more seriously than Gerda's; as one reviewer has said, the author "mocks at their deadly seriousness but as she mocks she marches along shoulder to shoulder.” It would be superfluous to ask Miss Macaulay for a wellbuilt plot or centralized situation. As with her "Potterism," one is more than content to enjoy the give and take of her clever dialogue and to savor her indulgently satirical comment. The chapter in which one of the uneasy and disturbed ladies of this family undertakes a course of psycho-analysis is enough to make the most owlish devotee of Freudism laugh and grow sensible.
In the creator of Tom Glenwood,' of an old-time shipping town of Maine called Shipbay, we have a new American fiction writer who has a generous share of the humor that makes one chuckle rather than roar. He has made a live, hearty, unheroic "hero"-one precisely described in the publishers' note in the words “buoyant, honest, dynamic, tolerant; impulsive, loquacious.” The novel is deliberately leisurely; it diverges here and there and everywhere to tell us a little about people who have not much to do with the story, but always in a clever and amusing way; it is made up of episodes
1 Beggar's Gold. By Ernest Poole. The Macmillar Company, New York$2.
? The Briary Bush. By Floyd Dell. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. $2,50.
3 Dangerous Ages. By Rose Macaulay. Boni & Liveright, New York. $2.
4 Glenwood of Shipbay. By John H. Walsh. The Macmillan Company, New York. $2.