The New York Scene

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/May 21, 1940

The First Nights: The critics got rained on sitting in front of “American Jubilee,” a song-and-dance bargain at the Fair. Most of the water-logged brothers were kind to it. The Sun’s Mr. Lockridge guessing it will be “pretty nice when it doesn’t rain” . . . The Aquacade show was called on account of rain the same night, so the reviewers re-echoed last year’s hoorays during the week, agreeing that Buster Crabbe makes as big a splash as Johnny Weissmuller . . . George M. Cohan tried to repeat with “The Tavern” Monday night, arriving in “The Return of the Vagabond.” The working press couldn’t find words enough to show how much they love Mr Cohan, but their affection didn’t extend to his show, more’s the pity. “The Tavern,” John Mason Brown sadly found it, “no longer proves as hospitable as it once was” . . . Life mag sent men to Pittsburgh and Washington for a four-page spread on Mr. Cohan for the May 27th issue—and the show closed last night! That explains why press agents jump out of windows . . . In olden times the odds would have been 10 to 1 that Cohan would have made a fight for his new show. His “Tavern” ran 252 times after a confused opening . . . He returns in the fall with a musical.

The Magic Lanter: Things looked up cinematically, clicks generally replacing the previous week’s clucks . . . “Waterloo Bridge,” a re-make of a Sherwood play about a soldier and a girl in wartime London, is a cinch to win you. V. Leigh and R. Taylor play the luckless duo, and they’re good at it . . . Mr. Zanuck has made another nice capture of the good old days with “Lillian Russell.” Weber and Fields team up again in support of Alice Faye as the beauty whose eyes your sweet old granny wanted to scratch out . . . Ann Sheridan gets good and hot in “Torrid Zone,” and is justified in wearing scant clothing. It’s hearty stuff, with Cagney and O’Brien doing most of the ball-carrying. The torrid zone, for your info, lies in the banana country, midway between the Equator and the Hays office . . . The same O’Brien is mixed up in a mess of murders in “Slightly Honorable” . . . “Men Without Souls” is muscle stuff, all about convicts who prefer outside to in, and go into a hell of a pet about it.

The Wireless: They were very un-hosty to Kenneth Simpson on the Fadiman Frivols. The GOP chairman had to give the right answers to a lot of questions about Republican disasters. In a campaign year, too! . . . “True confessions” was De Milled minus the biggest punch the movie version had—the wild-eyed performance of J Barrymore . . . Joseph Wood Krutch in his two minutes’ worth of the Critics’ prize dinners broadcast, niftied that the award to “Time of Your Life” presented the reviewers merely confirming Saroyan’s opinion that it was the best play of the year . . . The femme warbling “You Can’t Brush Me Off” (from “Louisiana Purchase”) with Sleepy Hall’s crew, summed up to a good gal with a good song . . . We wish some of these after-midnight orchestras would muffle their brass instruments. Unless they think people need the unmated to break a lease. Doesn’t sound good, anyhow! .. . . The president’s speech before Congress was a thriller . . . The bravos they gave him convinced one of us, at long last, that the legislators have fully awakened . . . The Crossleys started their seasonal diving last week—the leading comedian of them all losing six full points—a tremendous push.

The Story Tellers: Demaree Bess records in the SEP that Stalin sold out to Hitler to save his own skin. Emperor Joe was finding it tougher and tougher to conceal the nation’s weakness from the people, said Bes, adding: “His propagandists fooled everybody but the Russians” . . . Franklyn Waltman blasts Sec. Ickes in Look, but the mag’s editors took the fangs out of the article by adding to Waltman’s byline: “GOP Publicity Director,” which translates as “What do you expect?” World Digest offers an amusing piece about Madam Vespucci, an Italian bewitcher who was upsetting our statesmen in Martin Van Buren’s day. She nearly eye-rolled them out of a land grant until her Paris past caught up with her . . . A.P. Herbert, the humorist in Parliament, gets sore at the war officials in Living Age . . . He spanks them for the pompous wordage of their communiques, which only confuse people. Or is that the idea?  . . . Oliver St. Gregory’s line in Reader’s Digest: “One of those aggressive silences that demand an answer” . . . The pen portrait on Dorothy Thompson in The New Yorker and now in the Essepee declared that many folks believe she is slightly on the hysterical side in her views on world affairs . . .  But the front pages are now conforming everything Dorothy shorted and warned about.

The Front Pages: There was a lot of silver lining spotting among the war commentators. The Post editorialized that while it would be silly to overlook Hitler’s power, this legend of his invincibility gives him another weapon . . . Then The Sun’s T.R. Ybarra wrote a reminder that the opening up Belgium and The Netherlands not only leads into France: It runs right into the heart of Germany, too . . . Ray Clapper, reporting Washington opinion, said the Allies expect to take a licking for some time to come but count on superior facilities to destroy the Huns in the end . . . Meantime, however, the U.S. is taking belated action to protect itself in the clinches, and Wall Street, which always has a rabbit heart when trouble comes, threw its biggest tantrum since 1929 . . . The military experts on the papers baffle us. They tell us that because of the censorship no one knows what is actually happening on the Western front . . . Then they go on for  a few thousand words analyzing the Western front military situation.

The Headliners: Said Ann Sheridan: “Propinquity is most conducive to romance” . . . Ann Sothern comment: “I’m beginning to learn all about acting” . . . Horrible, isn’t it? . . . Said Jeffry Lynn: “Sometimes a fellow gets tired of being a bachelor” . . . So he gets married and finds out how wonderful being a bachelor was . . . Jeannette MacDonald’s scoop: “My studio has an idea that a husband and wife shouldn’t be in featured roles in a movie” . . . Naturally it’d be hard to get the public to believe in the Happy Ending with a husband and wife in the leads . . . Barbara Stanwyck’s admission: “I have an inferiority complex” . .  . All Hollywoodites have. They think they’re only colossal . . . Richard Greene’s oratory: “I don’t think advice is good”. . . Advice is good. It tells you what you shouldn’t do . . . Carole Lombard’s remarkable remark: “You work hard on some vacations, but they rest you” .. . . That’s taking the words right outta Gracie Allen’s mouth . . . Goebbel’s goo: “The Nazis will make this a better world” . .. .. When they all commit suicide. Louis Hayward’s message: “A woman doesn’t only want love—she wants companionship and understanding” . . . Love is an abbreviation of your last three words, mister . . . Loretta Young’s confession: “I don’t enjoy the groping kind of love scenes. I don’t like to play rough” . . . Thanks for the tip.

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