The Three Sisters

Chekhov’s county satire, in the Actors Studio production staged by Lee Strasberg. Incomparably funny, and by inadvertence booed on the London stage.

Bogart inhabits the staging like Burge on Olivier’s Uncle Vanya. The settings are realistic.

The English text has the authority of Randall Jarrell.

And then the cast, Geraldine Page (Olga), Kim Stanley (Masha), Sandy Dennis (Irina). Luther Adler (Dr. Chebutykin), Kevin McCarthy (Vershinin), Shelley Winters (Natasha), Albert Paulsen (Kulygin), Gerald Hiken (Andrei), James Olson (Baron Tuzenbach), Robert Loggia (Solyony).

“The fool suffereth vexation...”

Act I

Irina’s birthday

Act II

The reign of Natasha


The fire

Act IV

The departure of the troops

The extraordinarily adroit use of offstage sound as chorus (bells, a dog barking, etc.) was noted by Howard Taubman in his 1964 New York Times review of the play.


Mark Twain Tonight!

The four general parts, as a master tactician would say, are Jim Blaine (Roughing It), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “The Golden Arm”, and the riverboat pilot.

There’s a-plenty betwixt and between, Twain scaling the heights and the depths of human existence, but the scholar and adept can deduce the rest from the layout.

An old man, the genius at his writing table, the young dramatic spectator, the poet of the Mississippi.

Holbrook’s performance is one of those you don’t forget, it does all these things in a bare hour and a half.

Bogart lets you know it’s a television studio with a long shot from the back of the balcony showing lights and a monitor, his cameras cover the lecture stage for the rest of it, close-ups, wide shots, everything.


A Time to Be Born
Coronet Blue

About to rock the boat on the river in New York, the old heave-ho.

“We know what you’re doing,” says the lady. “You’re not really in this with us. You’ve been pretending all along. I’m surprised at you.”

The incipit of a work that tried many wits and found them wanting help, “I’d rather be baffled than bored,” cp. Mister Buddwing (dir. Delbert Mann), and note that the unfortunate victim’s sire is none other than Boston Blackie.

Blue Coronet, “a bar over on Third Avenue”. Yevtushenko’s “Colors”, recalling the verses of In a Lonely Place (dir. Nicholas Ray), latterly the creator of the series cited “Russian agents”. A job at The Searching i. A boat-builder’s Latin American go-between, “Chico”. Death of a nice little rich girl.

Notably edited (Sidney Katz supervising), fine score by Laurence Rosenthal.



The case begins and ends at The Infinite Pad, Philip Marlowe from his office in the Bradbury Building is drawn into the continuation.

Two sisters and a brother from Manhattan, Kansas. One is the queen of the Hollywood sitcoms, the brother snaps her in the arms of Public Enemy No. 1, formerly a Brooklynite.

Both coasts and the Middle West, from Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister.

The rapidity is Marlowe’s, it fooled the critics into divagations on style and plot.

A lightning-quick “trained detective” amid the limitations of a nasty blackmail scheme full of envy, revenge and other ill-assorted motives..


Skin Game

The joke would be this, one confidence man sells the other as a slave, then liberates him. They divide the money and move on to the next auction or farm. One day it catches up to them, and they get a taste of ill treatment, which makes better men of them.

That would be Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels, but there’s more. They chance upon a confidence woman, and when the day of comeuppance comes it brings a boatload of new arrivals to the trade.

So the comeuppance is still more surprising and adds another dimension to the tale.

Paul Bogart makes it look easy, which is what he does in Cancel My Reservation (“This is Bob ‘Zabriskie Point’ Hope”) and A Memory of Two Mondays by Arthur Miller.


Cancel My Reservation

A New York comedy, constructed around the time the city became uninhabitable, which opens up like a dream into the American Far West, and there finds things haven’t changed so much since the days of Buck Benny, lending a swift understanding of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point scarcely to be obtained elsewhere.

The drollery of the script (Chief Dan George as a mountain mystic tells Hope to go and water his fern), by Arthur Marx out of Louis L’Amour, is of a piece with the directorial style, which can set up the necessary gags and devices or take off at a moment’s notice for parts unknown.

Another gag, which depends as much on camera placement as anything else, has the sheriff open his locker door to reveal a picture of John Wayne taped inside it, then next to him his deputy opens his to reveal a picture of “Gabby” Hayes.


A Memory of Two Mondays

The workplace camaraderie and its dramas and comedies, goodbye to all that and good riddance.

Brilliantly directed on a set that represents an auto parts warehouse in the Thirties (“gruesome”, Miller says of the time) with scrupulous accuracy.