Ravo de l' Idioto

Excerpted from "'Idiot's Delight': The Film Doesn't Name Names, but It Still Carries Anti-War Punch," in Newsweek, 6 February 1939.

Although Continental Europe accounts for only a small percentage of Hollywood's income, American producers have leaned over backward to avoid offending its belligerently sensitive states. Threats of boycott and explosions of hurt feelings from abroad have usually found their marks in the easily intimidated film capital, with such results as the elimination of important scenes from A Farewell to Arms, the softened impact of the anti-war The Road Back and Blockade, and the shelved productions of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, It Can't Happen Here, Personal History, and The Exiles.

That Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, after faltering in the face of an Italian protest, is ready to release Idiot's Delight may indicate Hollywood's tardy realization that its foreign film market -- outside of Great Britain and Latin America -- isn't worth the guilty conscience. Considered in view of such forthcoming productions as Warners' Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Charlie Chaplin's The Dictator, it may also demonstrate a new trend in American film circles. Even so, the M-G-M film makes its compromises.

Robert Sherwood comedy-drama that won the Pulitzer Prize in the 1935-36 season named nations and their rulers in its bitter arraignment of war and dictators. The screen version cautiously amends that frankness. The Italy of the stage set becomes an Alpine never-never land in celluloid, and its people speak that international language, ESPERANTO; but the makers of war and munitions are still attacked after the films sincere, if sometimes confusing, fashion.

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