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Susan Green

To See or Not to See

(24 June 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 11, 24 June 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A Real War But a Phoney Film

So this girl Pamela, whose father is a general and a Don Juan – for which reason her mother (Elsie Janis) divorced, him and went to be a matron in a war hospital – is a problem child and kills a man. She pushes him right through a staircase banister, which before then looked very substantial. Presumably she got the strength to do this because the man meant no good by her. The trial is going against her because the dead. man was a lieutenant or something, when her worried mother connives to get the girl enlisted as a nurse. As between the two uniforms, the jury favors the nurse’s. So Pam goes to war. And what a pretty war it is!

There are air raids but only so that the heroine and the hero can meet in an underground shelter. There is the gay café life which everyone knows is the important part of every war. In fact so gay is this war that if you go into a shoe repair shop, you wi1l pass the time not in one of those funny little booths, but dancing in your stockinged feet with the hero. The Germans won’t get you as you cross the English Channel in a transport ship, and when you get into an honest-to-god bombardment it will be from your own guns so that some one can run out and tell them to please stop. An obvious advantage of a war is that if there’s another girl in the case, she will be the one and only casualty so that the hero will be yours. Finally, if you are a problem child, war will make a woman of you, you bet.

“Mr. Goebels” Steps In

Ed Kuykendall, president of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America, went into conference last week with War Department officials and. major film executives. immediately afterwards nine thousand film houses throughout the country were asked not to delete any part of newsreels on national defense and so on. The individual theatre has heretofore been free to edit a newsreel as might best suit its program schedule.

The big propaganda tanks are in line for action.

Love and the Cost of Living

If you married men want to know how you were snared into the trap, this film will reveal to you the secret maneuvers to which you fell victim. And you women who are still hoping, can get the absolute low down on how the snaring is done.

However, the war of the sexes is not the main theme.

It is a story of love flying out of the window when poverty enters at the door. First the young wife loses her job. Then the husband gets a cut in wages. They resent their sordid existence and let it out on each other. The situation is saved by an understanding father-in-law.

The comic and the humorous are so much in evidence that this serious theme becomes merely very good entertainment, backed by a touching story. Holly wood does not produce a Grapes of Wrath every day.

John Garfield steps out in a new role. Usually he is the cynic. Here he does a good job as an ambitious, inventive chap.

Drama Ends in Let-Down
REBECCA (from story by DuMaurier)

The struggle of a human being against adverse circumstances should be dramatic and important. This film misses the mark, and this reviewer does not think it deserves the great praise it has received.

A poor, naive girl becomes the second wife of an unhappy wealthy widower and the victim of his past. The huge estate and corps of servants overwhelm her. The continued domination of the first wife, the dead Rebecca, unnerves her. She is tortured by a crazy housekeeper who resents her corning. The poor thing begins to doubt her husband’s love, believing he married her merely to forget the wonderful Rebecca. She struggles to assert herself, but fails. Her liberation comes when she learns that her husband actually hated Rebecca and was instrumental in causing her death.

At this point one expects the new Mrs. de Winter to take up her job as mistress of the manor and make a go of it. However, the story ends with the crazed housekeeper setting fire to the place, leaving the young wife nothing to do but to stand and watch the fire. It all works up to nothing.

Lawrence Olivier as de Winter gives a rather wooden performance. Joan Fontaine’s acting is monotonous though she does succeed in evoking sympathy for the tortured young wife.


Newsreels of recruiting show lines of flat-chested, round-shouldered youths. This puts into visual form the damning facts presented in the papers; namely, that 64% of the applicants have so far been rejected, and that the huge number rejected for physical reasons is connected with “the high number of applicants attempting to join the army because of long unemployment”. If you add to the above the further fact that the recruiting quotas have not been met, you will have in a nut-shell the whole story of who joins up and why, and you will understand why conscription is already the order of the day.

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