The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 7, 1939


Site Ed. Note: About twenty years ago, one evening, we sat down to watch "Ninotchka", on the advice of a friend.

We fell asleep.

Discovery: La Garbo

By Heywood Broun

I never thought I would be forced to throw my hat and cuffs into the air in praise of any picture person.

Of course, from time to time, there have been cinema shows which were mildly diverting. Some of the younger women seemed personable as far as could be judged from their one-dimensional aspect.

But until the other night I thought the noblest thing the talking pictures had to offer was some shot of a snow-capped peak or a rushing torrent. Now I've seen Greta Garbo, and many of my prejudices and blind spots must go up in smoke. The lady is an artist.


Ninotchka is no more than a facile farce comedy, but through the magic of the young woman from Sweden it takes on overtones and background, the tear behind the smile and all that sort of thing. Chaplain could do it, but that was many years ago, and I certainly did not believe that there existed any other player in screen land who could come up to the tip of his shoulder.

Possibly you in the big city know cinema temples where the seats were not designed for midgets. Over the door of every suburban picture house they should hang the sign, "Abandon hope, all the broad beamed who intend to enter here."

And so it would have been very difficult for me to have left in the middle of the Garbo picture.

However, in accuracy, I must report that I was glued to my seat for duration by more than the restraining chair arms which nipped into my liver. Even though I had been free and on my feet I would have remained out of an intent curiosity as to what would happen to Garbo in the end.


Myself, I prefer greater economy. I like it better when the farewell scene is done a single time and then abandoned. One sad parting is more moving than a couple. And if the lovers go on to a fifth and a tenth farewell the thing seems to be a habit rather than heartbreak.

But I must admit that in scenes of great similarity Greta Garbo manages to bring some new twist and novelty to keep the thing alive.

Moreover, I have never been much engrossed in such sequences as magnify the face of the heroine. These close-ups cause me to feel the same sense of fright which Gulliver felt when he found himself in the land of the giants.

This is not so in the case of Miss Garbo. It is a countenance which remains sensitive and appealing even when distorted into billboard stature. She knows how to cry, and how to grin.

Here is an actress. How long has this been going on?

Cat's Out

South Carolina Court Punctures The Pin Ball Subterfuge

The decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the pin ball machine case would have been pretty dubious if it had stopped with the argument that the player who makes a high score is awarded free games. To call that illegal gambling is to stretch logic almost to the breaking point.

But apparently that was thrown in merely by way of lagniappe. The decision really hangs on the words, "it appears from at least one affidavit of the respondents that a successful player was paid off in money by the owner of a like machine in the city of Greenville..."

And there it is on solid ground. In a great many places, at least, that is the system on which these machines work, by way of avoiding the law. Instead of the machine itself shelling out the cash, the proprietors of the establishments pay in proportion to the score indicated. We have seen it done in Charlotte. And there is no doubt that it is illegal.

So far as pin ball machines themselves go, they seem to us to be a relatively innocent way of discharging the gambling instinct in American humanity which is going to find one outlet or another. They teach the lesson that gambling seldom pays.

But with their guilt or innocence as such, the court, of course, had nothing to do. The whole question was whether are not they are now in reality gambling devices. Undoubtedly many of them are.

Hard To Reach

Willingness To Fight Reds Wouldn't Be Enough

Hopes for our being able to render effective aid to Finland by measures short of war, pleasing though the idea is, are probably only wishful thinking. Russia, like Nazi Germany, is probably only to be impressed by threats which she knows will be backed by force.

Even Mr. Lippman's suggestion that we sidetrack everybody, including the Allies, to allow Finland to buy a large number of bombers here is plainly futile. She has no trained pilots to take them over. And in any case, they are unlikely to do her any permanent good. So also with the President's idea of giving her credits.

The only way we might help her is by force, and it is far from certain that we can do that effectively. The only scheme at all feasible would be an expeditionary force landed in Finland itself under the guns of the navy. And to be successful, such a force would have to be much larger and better armed than we can now manage. Both transport and weapons are lacking.

As for attacking Russia in other quarters--it is practically out of the question. She is, of course, more or less vulnerable to naval operations in the Black Sea, though we have no bases which would allow such operations. England, France, Spain, Italy, or Turkey would have to declare war on Russia and become our ally before we could move. Indeed, without Turkey, the case would be virtually hopeless, anyhow, for even a greatly inferior navy could block the passage of our ships from the Bosporus to the Euxine.

The Baltic, of course, is closed by German mines.

Only two other remote possibilities remain--the landing of an expeditionary force, under naval guns, at Murmansk or Archangel on the Arctic; or the dispatch of an expeditionary force across Siberia, with Alaska as a base. The first involves the same lack of bases as the Black Sea move, in exaggerated form. The second means a march of 4,000 miles across some of the most desolate country on earth and the passage of the Ural Mountains before Russia proper is encountered.

As a matter of fact, we have already before this tried both adventures, though most people remember it but vaguely if at all. In September, 1918, the 339th Infantry, 1st Battalion, 310th Engineers, and the 337th Ambulance Co. landed at Archangel as part of a general Allied force under British command, sent there to fight the Bolsheviks. These Americans spread out over a 450 mile front, but in a country of appalling cold, barren plains and frozen or thawing marshes inhabited only by a few hunters and trappers, they got nowhere. A total of 80 were killed or died of wounds, and the whole crew was near to starvation when the attempt was finally abandoned in the Summer of 1919.

In August 1918, Maj.-Gen. William Graves was dispatched with 10,000 American troops, to take part in a joint expedition into Siberia with the Allies and Japan, the announced purposes being (1) to enable the Czech legion under Jan Syrovy, then on its celebrated march East, to escape the Bolsheviks, and (2) to "steady any efforts at self-government and defense in which the Russians (White) themselves may be willing to accept assistance." The first objective was accomplished, the second failed dismally.

Site Ed. Note: Speaking of Archangel, that's where Kitchener was headed on Hampshire when it struck the mine. Kitchener, you may recall, should you have ever looked into the mirror, was YOU, at least in late November, 1967, (or was YOU Handy in the gabardine suit?)--the same who just got endorsed as Person of the Year by Time, who used also to publish Life; and if you've an 'ell of an idea of what it is about which we're talking, well you're not daft, deary. Rather, you win the prize. So be off with you, now, and go along, go out and play, and have a nice day and do all good things in life, in general, for tomorrow will yet be here soon enough.

New Threat

Stalin Challenges Il Duce, Sweden, And The Allies

Stalin's demands on Rumania amount to the same thing as the demands he made on Finland before attacking her: that she become simply a puppet (Bolshevized) state of the Red regime. And as such they raise far grimmer prospects than those the Western world already faces.

The former bandit is undoubtedly moving toward two objectives: (1) mastery of the Scandinavian peninsula and the establishment of himself as an Atlantic naval power in rivalry with Britain, and (2) the seizure of the Dardanelles and the Bolshevization and control of the European mountain states, together with Turkey.

In the north, the challenge is immediately to Sweden, and after her to Norway. The Russian armies are making little effort to overrun Finland completely but instead are cutting straight through the middle of the land in a beeline toward the Swedish iron mines which lie close to the Finnish border.

In the south, the challenge is immediately to Italy. Mussolini has always insisted that the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean were his peculiar sphere of influence. "Authoritative spokesmen" (i.e., Il Duce himself) have said that Italy will fight if Russia invades the Balkans.

But ultimately, of course, the challenge is to Britain and France, and perhaps in the end to the United States.

The short-sightedness of the Tory Governments of Baldwin and Chamberlain allowed Hitler to run wild and become a menace. And it may well be that the same short-sightedness is being repeated in the attempt to go on pretending that friendly relations with the Reds are possible. However, the decision is, of course, a tremendously tough one to make.

Ambitious Man

Who Promises To Destroy What Chances He Has

Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio answers the pleas of Cleveland's City Manager George N. Schoonmaker by saying that the State has done all it can do and the city must face the choice between pulling up deficiency bonds or closing up relief shop altogether.

According to Mr. Clapper's column in The News for Monday, the real reason behind the Governor's attitude is that he wants to ring up an "economy record" for 1939 for its good effect on the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940.

If so, then this is one of the sorriest exhibitions in American history.

There seems to be no reasonable doubt that Cleveland has had to cut off many thousands of relief people who are genuinely unable to find employment and who have no other way of getting bread but begging or stealing--or shall they eat cake?

The evidence bears out Clapper's charge, too. For there is something Bricker can do--he can call the State Legislature and let it exercise its legitimate function of passing on the matter. Bricker's statement is misleading: the reason for Cleveland's trouble lies primarily in the fact that the Legislature has insisted on controlling the City's finances and has at the same time refused to provide for the need.

Moreover, according to Mr. Clapper, the State owes Cleveland $700,000 for which it has calmly made no provision--lest, again, it spoil the Bricker "economy record."

Bricker has little chance for the nomination in any case, can land it only if the Hoover-Union League combination controls the convention. But his present course promises to blast him completely out of sight of it. And if the motive alleged against him is true, most justly.

Site Ed. Note: That's right--this was the comment on the case of Clapper's clipped column on Cleveland in which Bricker calmly connived to conclude concessions, for economy, to the clamoring cut crowd, in recurring cruel crises, (living on 13 cents a day), eschewing conciliation to Schoonmaker, (who contrived for comity from the commonty to his commoratory to requisition coppers), to concentrate conatively on his contacts and the combination control of the convention.

You don't need to thank us. It's our job, and we like it.

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