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The ""thoughts and feelings"" of J.B. Priestley about paintings, music, actors and clowns he has admired. ""Caprice rules here,"" announces the author in the preface to the painting section, and this also holds true for the other sections. But how pleasant caprice can be when indulged in Priestly-fashion--with high spirits, curmudgeonly assurance and the shrewd scrutiny with which the author sifts and sorts the best in English literature. Among the paintings covered in brief appreciations: Watteau's Gilles, Elmore's Nude (""this splendid bare wench""), Nicholson's Begonias-- and so it goes in and out of major and minor works. The music section begins with Rossini Overtures (""They give me the impression of being filed with cheek and impudence"") and ends with Walton's Orchestral Suite, Facade (""Never has so much bad music been transformed into what . . . is really good music""). In the two last sections Priestley wanders among serious actors (Ashcroft, Olivier, Gielgud, Guinness, etc.) and cinema greats (Hepburn, Bogart, Monroe, etc.) and clowns (the Marx Brothers, Morecambe and Wise, Jacques Tati, Chaplin, etc.) Usually, Priestley adds his extra affectionate dimension to the profiles, which carries them beyond the scholastic aridity of much nouveau media criticism. On the Keaton cult: ""There he is, his eyes glowing, his face a mask of determination, desperate but not despairing, battling alone against the perversity of things . . . Does this mean more to us now than . . . fifty years ago?"" With 24 pages of color and 70 black-and-white illustrations--a personal parade of pleasures, worth a standing salute.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day