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Reading the Arts

Category: Screen and Screen Again

Screen and Screen Again:
Joan Fontaine, Divine and Mortal

Joan Fontaine had one of the most baffling careers of any star actress of the 1940s and ’50s. She is so breathtakingly good in a handful of her films that it is difficult to understand why she comes off as so stupefyingly phony in so many of them. After an unpromising beginning in the 1930s, […]


High Water Mark

Hell or High Water is such a good movie that at times it almost left me breathless. It’s a beautifully textured study of two West Texas brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine), who go on a bank-robbing spree to get money to prevent the Texas Midlands Bank from foreclosing on their dead mother’s […]


That ’70s Show

Last Friday I returned to my hometown movie theater, the Coliseum, in Tillamook, Oregon. I hadn’t been there since September, 1979, when I saw Moonraker, Roger Moore’s fourth outing as James Bond. In his fine memoir Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York, James Wolcott remembers the moment that he […]


Screen and Screen Again: A Woman’s Face (1941)

Joan Crawford is a genuine oddity among the great Golden-Age Hollywood stars—an actress for whom many of us feel a certain affection despite her stunning lack of dramatic imagination. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous comment about the challenges of writing a screenplay for her has been quoted so many times that I don’t want to do […]


Screen and Screen Again: Picnic (1955)

The first movies to cast their spell over me were cheap old Universal horror films. On a string of rain-soaked Saturday afternoons in the coastal town of Beaver, Oregon, my older brother Barry and I would be glued to The Mummy’s Ghost and Night Monster and House of Dracula on our parents’ old thirteen-inch black-and-white […]


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