COMMENTS about the acting of motion-picture characters are common, since most persons prefer certain actors and actresses whose work they feel is usually of superior merit. One person's acting is liked because it is so real and human; another's is disliked because it is shallow--lacking in understanding. The suavity and smoothness of a particular actor may appeal to some; to others it seems artificial. We realize, therefore, that tastes in acting differ, and frequently that standards for judging the acting are also different. We come then to the question, "By what standards should we judge the acting which we see on the screen?"
Standards for acting are hard to set up, for they vary greatly from country to country. It is difficult, for example, for most Americans to appreciate the acting of Mei Lan-fang, the famous Chinese actor who recently toured this country, because in his acting certain gestures or movements have special meanings. Chinese drama is a kind of shorthand which you must know in order to understand what is happening. It is not natural, or what we call "realistic." Instead, it is symbolic. Which is the better standard? Today most of us prefer the naturalistic method, but that does not necessarily prove that it is better.
We can get good acting in a motion picture if we have the following conditions: