The New York Scene

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/May 14, 1940

The First Nights: Thursday night saw the last of the plushy premieres till Fall. Vivien Leigh and L. Olivier, now golden children of Hollywood, arrived in “Romeo and Juliet” to escape from the cinema grind (they say). The too-too set filled the theatre and rewarded the play with about 14 curtains . . . The critics, however, were fussier. Mr. Atkinson told the Times family: “The scenery swallowed the play” . . . “Out from Under” crept out from under last Sattidy night and proved to be almost unfunny enough to get a critics’ prize. John Mason Brown, in a master capsule, Posted it as “all work and no play” . . . “The Strangler Fig” gets busy with the messier crimes, including Murder. The fig, the playful Mr. Mantle chirped, is that he and his allies didn’t care for it . . . The Pulitzer Committee, for the first time, agreed with the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award, pinning its medal on William Saroyan’s  “The Time of Your Life” . . . Said H. I. Philips, the Sun’s humorist, “If there is any logic to this decision, then second place should go to Macy’s Parade. . . Mr. Saroyan has vitality, originality and talent. He will do some fine plays, but “The Time of Your Life’ was just ‘The Face on the Barroom Floor” in technicolor. This department offers $150,000,000 in Chinese yen to any critic who can tell what it was about—and if so, why?” . . . Well, that leaves me out!


The Magic Lanterns: Even if the weather was bad you couldn’t expect many to come in out of it for most of the new bookings. This does not, however, include “My Son, My Son,” which finally got to the Music Hall. It’s about a father and his son, who proved to be a heel. It’s full of heart wrenches. B. Aherne, L. Hayward (playing junior, the rat), Madeleine Carrol and Laraine Day make you like it . . . “The Dark Command” is a wild Western, about how Quantrill bit the dust. He being a Kansas varmint of the ’60s . . . “Women Without Names” is all about girls in prison, which cant’ be so bad, if you know Ellen Drew is in the next cell . . . Bing Crosby pops up in “If I Had My Way,” with little Gloria Jean, showing how to get Stork Club biz with a side-street beanery. Put it among Bing’s also-rans . . . See Arthur Menken’s newsreels from Norway, the record of Germany’s bombing of open, undefended towns. It makes a lie of every squawk from Berlin.


The Wireless: The newsreels would seem to acknowledge the opposition of the radio by hiring time to crow about what goodies they are screening . . . “Our Town” fetched its movie cast to the air and exhibited more unrelated accents (all in a New England town) than you could count at the League of Nations . . . “Bitter Sweet” still carries a lot of up-to-date zing. It was sung right well by M. Claire and Jas. Melton. Incidentally, why do so many of the best canaries sing on the Mon. eve. Programs? Does the stay-at-home need soothing ear-bending after a tough weekend? . . . Fairly close to zero is a description of the ballet. They remain pretty cloudy to many of us even when we see them, but the whys and wherefores of the gyrations. I declare, leave you gasping . . . That “Serenade for Strings,” piped in from Montreal, is something for the native music makers to listen to—and learn from . . .The baseball callers have the same nuisance to contend with again this year: mixing their commercials up with the action of the game, a sure-fire way to make enemies.


The Conclusion-Jumping of The Week: In Thursday’s letters-to the editor column (in the World-Telly) Mr. Burton Rascoe spanks W. Pegler and this column for advocating the entry of the U.S. into war . . . Such people, argues Mr Rascoe, “first have to demonstrate to me their good faith” . . . He then suggests that such people join up as common privates in the armies now fighting abroad—at which time he will believe they are sincere, etc. . . . If the complainant or anyone can show us when we ever advocated the entry of the U.S. into any war, we will give an exhibition in Macy’s window . . . However, if he can’t, he is to agree to give a similar performance.


The Story Tellers: Sen, Wheeler, who takes plenty of paddlings for his supposed Toryism, once was almost shooed out of public life for his alleged tie-up with Lenin, Debs, the Kaiser and free love. Rich’d L. Neuberger profiles him in Harper’s. . . . Director Frank Capra, take it from Fred’k Collins in Liberty, rebels against “the survival of ignorance, of phoniness, of impudence, of nepotism in the making of movies.” So he lives in Hollywood, probably to be near his hates . . . Howard Daniel, thumb nailing Unity Freeman-Mitford in Equality, explains that Hilter’s would-be patootie got so much Aryan superiority drivel from her Pop it left her not quite bright . . . There’s a new mag out called Let’s Play Vocabulary. You fill in a missing word in a bromide, which makes who the winner? . . . Dr. Arthur Vos warns you, in Health Culture, not to take any liquid at all with your meals. An example of what this can do to you was noticed in the death of Berry Wall. He lived only sixty years from the time he began breakfasting on champagne.


The Front Pages: Webb Miller, tragically killed in a London blackout, was a cracker jack reporter for a reason rarely mentioned in the glamour build-up of foreign correspondents. Miller knew wire facilities better than most of his colleagues, which enabled him to “move” his scoops while they were hunting telegraphers. . . There can be no kick against the Pulitzer awards for journalism. The winners were honored for spanking villains. But how could the committee, which honored a cartoonist, a foreign correspondent and an editorial writer for lashing German savagery, overlook Sherwood’s play, “There Shall Be No Night,” which does the same thing better? . . . P. M., the grapevine has it, will cover the events in other newspaper offices, upsetting the old line publishers’ notion that newspapers don’t rate as news . . . The fight reporters, who make their home on the far end of the limb, are sub-letting that perch to the turf writers, who won the Kentucky Derby for Bimelech every day but Saturday . . . The Atlanta Journal managing editor claps hands for the expose on the Klan by the World-Telly’s Mr. Stokes, but reminds all concerned that the Atlanta Journal exposed it on page one for 3 months!

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