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The Times (05/Mar/1934) - New films in London: Waltzes from Vienna





Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, whose work has long been absent from the London screen, is represented at the Marble Arch Pavilion this week by Waltzes from Vienna, which has been directed by him for the Gaumont-British Corporation. Another British film is Red Ensign, which, as its title suggests, has the merchant service and the building of ships as its theme. New American films this week are Counsellor-at-Law and Footlight Parade.


Waltzes from Vienna. — English studios have lost many more actors and actresses than they can afford to Hollywood, and unless they arc careful they may lose Miss Jessie Matthews as well. Miss Matthews has all the qualities that appeal to the Hollywood plutocrats — personality, vivacity, complete lack of camera-consciousness, and an obvious relish for the screen as a medium. Mr. Alfred Hitchcock is an able and experienced director, and it was natural to expect that he would make the most of her talents. He has not. He has cast her as an impudent and bad-mannered little baggage of a shop-girl and treated her as a not too important part of the film's design.

For the rest, the film is an agreeable variation of the play which was produced at the Alhambra. Mr. Hitchcock never makes the mistake of merely photographing the play, and he keeps the camera flexible and alive, but he is too modest in his ambitions, and Waltzes from Vienna is much the same as all those other films which have had Vienna and popular music as their background. Mr. Edmund Gwenn looks impressive as the elder Johann Strauss, who is so jealous of his son "Schani", who composes "The Blue Danube." "Schani" is in love with Resi, the pastrycook's daughter (Miss Matthews), and is the object of the semi-platonic ambitions of the Countess (Miss Fay Compton). Mr. Esmond Knight acts so sensitively that at times we could wish that "Schani" was a character conceived more in terms of serious biography than of musical romance. Mr. Frank Vosper is magnificently ridiculous in a ridiculous part, but he and most of the other members of the cast belong more to the stage than to the screen.