On Broadway

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/April 3, 1940

The New York Scene

 The First Nights: Murder was rampant behind the footlights on recent evenings, making the past week “Broadway’s Bloody Easter.” On Mon., there was a revival of “Liliom,” with Buress Meredith magnificent as the suicide, and Ingrid Bergman arriving as 1940’s Dream Girl. The play, Richard Lockridge stated, “takes the season out of the doldrums” . . . Things got even better the next night, when a pair of Britons, Edward Percy and Reginald Danham, shook the first nighters in their boots with “Ladies in Retirement,” a grim homicide. With Flora Robson as the assassin, this play’s chills, John Anderson guessed, “would settle the theater’s summer problem of air-conditioning” . . . Wednesday brought a “comic” interlude named “Lady in Waiting.” Gladys George cavorts in it, but the play, you caught Brooks Atkinson saying, was “corny” . . . The crime wave was renewed Thursday night when “The Scene of the Crime” premiered. The scene of the crime was the reviews, where the critics committed murder on the play.

The Magic Lanterns: The Easter bargains were still good at most bazaars; with bookings skimpy . . . “Broadway Melody of 1940” has the best dancing visible anywhere, with Astaire, E. Powell and G. Murphy giving plenty of this best. The varn is the tenth encore of an oldie, so let’s dance . . . L. Olivier does a repeat of his “Wuthering Heights” sulker in “Rebecca,” very moody and what’s-the-use. But it’s a grim tale, well done and with Joan Fontaine to let the sunshine in . . . Bela Lugosi throws his customers in The Thames in “The Human Monster,” but you should see what he forgot to throw in . . . “The Courageous Doctor Christian,” shows Jean Hersholt practicing medicine just for fun, in keeping with the Hollywood idea that fees are un-American . . . The most detestable film of the week was a newsreel, so called. It had a narrator getting comic over the malformation of a baby! Shame! . . . “Rovin Tumbleweed,” a Gene Autry flick, is playing a B’way first run, but most of the reviewers refused to give this hoss opera printing room.

The Wireless: It’s hard for the radio’s bang-bang shows to compete with the crimes the dailies expose in Murder, Inc. All that “this-is-the-most-fiendish-crime-ever-committed-Inspector” sounds silleh when you read what the Brooklyn D. A. turns up . . . The taunts in the shortened “Of Thee I Sing” last Sun. with Gaxton and Moore, seemed aimed at the present Administration. Well, this show helped FDR in 1932, so it has a right to change its mind . . . The Jack Benny-Orson Welles visiting is just too playful for words, my dear! . . . The Info Please wizards played stone dead on the best advertised man in the Cabinet. They couldn’t recall the name of Ickes . . . What elegance! R. Scott’s orchestra trying out a new song, described the rendition as “the world’s premiere” . . . One of the announcers who plugs a perfume on a local station speaks with a swish . . . Flippen collared some famous men for his Celebrity Minstrels—Al Smith, Sam Leibowitz, James Montgomery Flagg—and most of the jokes were equally well known.

The Sass of the Week: You figure this out. The Allies didn’t help friendly countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia and Finland—but they’re doing all in their power to win the friendship of Italy—a country that doesn’t like them! . . . Reader’s Digest says that at the White House Mrs. FDR is known as “Public Energy No. 1” . . . One of this column’s contributors called her that last year . . . A headline on Variety’s front page: “Nudity Is New British Vogue” . . . Of all things to be dubbed new! That’s as old as Adam and Eve . . . Look features “The Ten Most Glamorous Men I Know,” by Peggy Joyce . . . It is ironical that the ten most suitable males should be chosen by Miss Joyce, who has found it so hard to find one to suit herself.

The Story Tellers: Arthur John Kujala, two years a prisoner in the Soviet labor camps, convinces you, in The Living Age, that the Bolo jailers are just as inhuman as those in the Ratzi concentration camps. So ill fed the prisoners, reports Kujala, that once they failed to report a comrade’s death—so they could divide his bread ration . . . Mr. Nathan, once captain of the drama critics who gave Maxwell Anderson two play-writing prizes, admits in Esquire he’s souring on the dramatist . . . Heywood Broun’s great column on the Unknown Soldier, written Nov. 11, 1937, is reprinted in Worlds’ Digest—a treasure for your scrapbook . . . Scribner’s Commentator has an idea for a great dep’t, the Laughter and Applause excerpts from the Congressional Record. But it seems better material could be picked, for Congressmen never stop saying funny things . . . Martin Lewis discusses the new fad—of reviving old silent movies—as a form of antique hunting in Coronet. It would probably be more fun to dig up the notices the critics, some of them now literary biggies, wrote on them.

The Front Pages: Ferdinand Lundberg warns the dailies in Harper’s that those news letters are becoming harmful opposition. But Dorothy Thompson, naming names, exposed some of the best of them as paid propaganda, which makes them less competitive than Mr. Lundberg’s “Boo!” would have you believe . . . A Sun editorial credits to George Bentinck the most famous race track gags. “All men are equal on the turf and under it.” Lord Derby visited the Kentucky Derby a few years back, sprung it in a radio address and got credit for coining a great saying. Now, who said it? . . . The World-Telly re-write man broke your heart in his account of Frenchy’s suicide Tuesday. He wound up his piece, about Aristide Blain dying because his co-workers ribbed him about a murder with: “He had eluded his tormentors” . . . One of the photogs assigned to Barlow’s experiment with the sensational explosive understandably wanted no part of the job. The city editor picked up the morning paper account of the experiment and rend Barlow’s statement: “I can control the operation of this bomb. It can be dealt with safely.” The cameraman retorted: “All right. Now read me the quotes from the bomb.”

The Headliners: Said the Los Angeles district attorney: “Bob Burns has no connection with any alleged crime” . . . Izzatso? What about that bazooka? . . . Announced Connie Bennett: “I’m taking vocal lessons.” Ah, a singing icicle! . . . Phyllis Brooks is quoted: “Little things that bother a woman never enter a man’s head” . . . Howdda y’know? Ja ever enter a man’s head? . . . Wendy Barrie’s epigram: “You can learn how to attract men from every man you meet?” . . . A wink is enough to weaken me, honey . . . Said Errol Flynn: “I was a pretty nice guy when I came to Hollywood”. . . And now he’s just pretty . . .  Rosemary Lane: “It doesn’t pay for the public to get false notions about stars” . . . Then why are press paid? . . . Admitted Von Ribbentripe: “We are merely trying to give every man a piece of land” . . . He means with a tombstone on it . . . Dolores Del Rio’s message of the week: “A film career can be very cruel” . . . On audiences . . . Orson Welles’ remarkable remark: “I’ve been to only four Hollywood parties” . . . But, oh, the Hollywood parties who have been to him, haw!

(Source: Google News, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=SFOYbPikdlgC&dat=19400403&printsec=frontpage&hl=en)