With Christmas in the offing and the box office in mind, Twentieth Century-Fox decided that a gay musical would be just the thing, and thereupon collected everyone they could lay their hands on and turned them all over to Sidney Lanfield, who happens to be the second highest paid director in the business. Mr. Lanfield's production, "Love and Hisses," now at the Metropolitan, is one of those pictures everyone will like.
It is the second Walter Winchell-Ben Bernie musical to appear, and as entertainment is superior to "Wake up and Live," although the music--"Sweet Someone," "I Wanna Be in Winchell's Column," "Darling, Jo Vous Aime Beaucoup," and others--may not have the appeal of "Never in a Million Years," and the title song of the previous production.
"Love and Hisses" introduces Simone Simon as a vocalist. She sings a thin, pleasing coloratura that will never become particularly popular, partially because she cannot hope to vie with her compatriot, Lily Pons, in this type of singing, partially because the public prefers the more throaty strains of Alice Faye and her ilk.
The strength of "Love and Hisses," lies in its humor, which ranges from the involved practical jokes of the city slicker, as played by Mr. Winchel and Mr. Bernie, to the magnificent clowning of Bert Lahr and Joan Davis, who make a good bid to steal the show. In between these extremes, however, is the simpler and far more appealing humor of the naive mind, childishly coping with the wicked world. At this sort of thing, strangely enough, Mile Simon is very good indeed.
Turn her lose on her native soil with a scenario written by Coquette, and her lack of inhibitions can be almost frightening, but since her "discovery" and importation a year or so ago, she has played the the part of the unwordly, impulsive, sometimes petulant little girls with increasing skill and grace. It is her performance that makes "Love and Hisses" enjoyable and well seeing.