Gratifying biography of one of the screen's greatest directors, by Eyman (Mary Pickford, 1992—not reviewed), film critic for the Palm Beach Post. Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) foretold that all his films, as well as those of his contemporaries, would vanish and turn to nitrate dust in the cans—and many did, film seemingly not having the longevity even of flesh. Fortunately, much of Lubitsch's work survives, because, unlike most of his fellow directors, Lubitsch didn't treat his films as just so much entertainment; instead, he patiently bathed them in wit and artistry, and, later, in humanity. A Berlin Jew of Russian ancestry, Lubitsch at 19 was a minor comic actor in the famed Max Reinhardt troupe, training that soon aided him marvelously when it came to directing film actors. Before coming to Hollywood in the early 20's, he'd directed and acted in dozens of silent German features (some of the best of them now lost utterly). A merry, cigar-smoking gnome of immense creativity, he had no rivals but many imitators. He wrote or cowrote (with playwright/screenwriter Samson Raphaelson, Billy Wilder, and others) nearly all his films, basing them largely on Hungarian farces or great operettas, and he invented the film musical whose lyrics and dance numbers not only advance the plot but demand witty camera work. His greatest talkies include The Merry Widow, Trouble in Paradise, The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, To Be or Not to Be, and Heaven Can Wait, while even his misfires and lesser works shine with ``the Lubitsch Touch'' (a poor phrase, Eyman says). Lubitsch's former collaborator Raphaelson, the author tells us, thinks the director an unsentimental, vulgar man who never read a book but who nonetheless stood topmost among the most boundlessly charming men ever born. Readers driven to seek Lubitsch out in video stores will no doubt agree. Distinguished. Written for full orchestra, it captures every subtlety. (Photographs)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-74936-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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