Some Things Old, Some Things New

A Truffaut long on charm, a Polanski short on wit, a Losey for TV, and a domestic assortment of three winners.

WELL, WE’RE BACK ON THE hard stuff. For two months we were on what Robert Downey aptly described as methadone: saw no contemporary movies, wallowed in Casablanca and The Women in our own living room and caught Tiger Bay and For Me and My Gal on one city-bound television-set-on-hand-evening. Some slight tremors set in by the seventh week; by the eighth we were a mass of twitches. Vacation’s end brought reality and its temptations (let alone its deadlines) and, with nine movies in three days we’re back to mainlining.

But for the respite, much thanks. Withdrawal, we’ve found, breeds contempt and sharpens the sense of outrage; familiarity, let alone regular fixes for ten months of the year, blurs the intelligence and hardens the sensibilities. A handful of the 34 films that opened during our absence were still around among them the five we’d seen before departing: Dillinger with its pointless wallow in bang-bang bloodiness; Jeremy with its sappiness alleviated by its first-film academic status and the charming truth of its teen-age protagonist; Jesus Christ Superstar, reeking in its raucous over-inflation of its essential muddleheaded alertness, elevated to being “controversial,” denounced by the American Jewish Committee (but praised by the Israelies whose country is used as a Jewison version of Monument Valley) and by blacks because Judas is portrayed by a black (and how many blacks have denounced the stardom brilliant Ben Vereen justly won from his black Judas on Broadway?); the silly end of a-series-fizzle of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and—most happily, Bang the Drum Slowly, a beautifully performed warm and engrossing story about men and baseball, its humans made memorable, its sport poetic and sentiment

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