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Valiant Is the Word For Carrie (1936)
By FRANK S. NUGENT
New York Times
October 8, 1936
Valiant Is the Word For Carrie (1936)
The valiant Carrie Snyder, the high-hearted, open-handed lady of the Louisiana bayous of whom Barry Benefield wrote so lustily and engagingly, has emerged from Hollywood with her mouth rinsed, her scarlet past toned down to rose pastel and the halo of mother love perched firmly, if at a blessedly rakish angle, on the top of her lovely head. She is not quite the same Carrie, this one on the Paramount`s screen, but we might have expected that in these days of cinematic sobriety. The miracle is that so much of her and of her story has been left to us; we suspect that Wesley Ruggles and Claude Binyon, the picture`s director and adapter respectively, put over a few fast ones while Zeus Hays and his fellows slumbered on Olympus.
This is all to the good, of course, for `Valiant Is the Word for Carrie` is more moral and uplifting than `Pollyanna` except in its point of approach. A biblical precedent would be the case of the celestial rejoicing at the recovery of the one lost sheep. The trouble with the lost lamb fable in Hollywood would be that ordinarily the censors would refuse to recognize the existence of the stray in the first place. Sin, we are always being reminded, has no place in the cinema. `Carrie` is such a welcome exception that we wish we could be more charitable than just in commenting upon it this morning.
But the cold, harsh, critical opinion is that the new film is too long in the telling. Its running time is a fraction short of two hours, or about thirty minutes overtime for a truly effective presentation of its material. If we might risk a guess, it is that Mr. Ruggles and his aides appreciated that the virtue of the story rested in the simplicity, tenderness and wisdom of its earlier scenes—those in which the scandalous Carrie, who lived in that questionable house on the outskirts of town, found her first real sweetheart, a sunny-eyed youngster of 11 who refused to believe she was bad and brought her a wounded cat, a crippled owl and a rheumatism-curing buckeye and trusted them serenely to her care.
Gladys George, the stage`s most charming gift to the screen this year, and young Jackie Moran have filled these moments with idyllic gentleness, and you will sit through them, if you have a heart at all, in a glow of quiet enjoyment. The mood endures through Carrie`s adoption of her young gallant and his 5-year-old waif. Lady, and her flight with them to New York, where she determines to build a new life for herself and for her `family.`
To that point `Carrie` is irresistibly attractive, but, after such a splendid introduction to the principal characters, we cannot avoid a feeling of disappointment when the picture treats of the family`s problems after the children reach maturity. Paul`s entanglement with a designing woman, Lady`s bitter elopement with a college boy when she believes she has lost Paul, Carrie`s ill-fated share in a jailbreak attempt—these are melodramatic commonplaces which Mr. Benefield`s vigorous prose made passable but which stand out nakedly before the objective eye of the camera. Nor is there much merit in the performances of John Howard and Arlene Judge as the children grown up.
Miss George`s return to the screen after an unkind absence is occasion for rejoicing and there must be recognition of such of her assistants as John Wray, Hattie McDaniels, Harry Corey, Charlene Wyatt, Grady Sutton, Dudley Digges, Isabel Jewell, Maude Eburne and William Collier Sr. The misfortune is that `valiant` is only one of the `words for `Carrie`; another would be `disproportionate.` The picture takes too long, although doing it well, to introduce a little which is not well done at all.
VALIANT IS THE WORD FOR CARRIE, from the novel by Barry Benefield; screen play by Claude Binyon; directed by Wesley Ruggles; a Paramount production. At the Paramount.
Carrie Snyder . . . . . Gladys George
Lady . . . . . Arline Judge
Paul Darnley . . . . . John Howard
Dennis Ringrose . . . . . Dudley Digges
Phil Yonne . . . . . Harry Carey
Lili Eipper . . . . . Isabel Jewell
Ellen Belle . . . . . Hattie McDaniels
Ed Moresby . . . . . William Collier Sr.
George Darnley . . . . . John Wray
Paul Darnley (as child) . . . . . Jackie Moran
Lady (as child) . . . . . Charlene Wyatt
Maggie Devlin . . . . . Maude Eburne
Lon Olds . . . . . Lew Payton
Mat Burdon . . . . . Grady Sutton
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