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This, Baldwin's unexpected consideration of movie-made America, has some of the same sad sweetness of his last novel If Beale Street Could Talk. It even addresses itself, quietly and elliptically, to the same ironies: the only truth Baldwin recognizes in American fares that purport to show black lives comes in those rare moments when rage, terror, and pain are on display. Usually in an actor's face, since the scripts always lie. Baldwin wanders in and out of Lady Sings the Blues, In the Heat of the Night, The Defiant Ones, The Exorcist, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and some others and finds them testaments to falsehood, self-serving images of blacks conjured up out of the need to reassure or exonerate white audiences. In the famous scene in The Defiant Ones where Sidney Poitier leaps from the train and gives up freedom to remain with his wounded white buddy, Baldwin points devastatingly to "that most disastrous sentimentality" which tries to bring the black man into the white American nightmare—a nightmare which centers on identity and therefore elicits from whites "the most profound panic." Baldwin ignores the current tidal wave of black films, Shaft and its progeny, on the basis that their whole purpose is to make the true black experience "irrelevant and obsolete." One might quarrel with such a sweeping put-down, but as it is his films are touchstones for his own experiences in fear and trembling.

Pub Date: May 3, 1976

ISBN: 0385334605

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1976

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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