Melodrama and History  

Any five minutes of Truffaut show his quickness, his intelligence, his authority in matching images with words, or using them to surprise each other, and his unrelaxed interest in the progress of a story. He sets the pace better than …



The Sad Story of Gene McCarthy  

Two weeks before the election, I was surprised by a small story in the back pages of the New York Times. “McCarthy Is Said to Back Reagan”—that was the headline. The brief but unambiguous dispatch told how McCarthy had met …



Bad Faith of Apocalypse Now  

Apocalypse Now is a piece of visionary propaganda about the Vietnamese war— oppressively ugly for most of its length, with an emotional sordidness that teases and at last wears down and baffles the audience—a confidently brutal film, grating in its …



Joan Baez and Jane Fonda  

Both Joan Baez and Jane Fonda are to some extent public figures in their art because they are public figures outside it: Ms. Baez for her marches against the H-bomb and the war, her marriage to a draft resister, and …



A High Standard of Dying  

On March 28, the water used to cool a “containment vessel” in the atomic plant at Three Mile Island, in Middletown, Pennsylvania, grew dangerously hot and gave every sign of growing hotter. The consequences were as follows. The company that …





Solzhenitsyn and Freedom of the Press  

A curious feature of Solzhenitsyn’s Commencement Speech at Harvard (National Review, July 7, 1978) is its attack on freedom of the press. The untoward liberties that American journalists are known to take have been shocking to Solzhenitsyn, and he responds with something between petulance and indignation. …



Echoes of the Holocaust  

Albert Speer has an absorbed and patient look as he answers questions about his complicity in Hitler’s war crimes, through hour after hour of Marcel Ophuls’s documentary, The Memory of Justice. “What makes you do this?” Ophuls finally asks. “It …



A Free Mind  

The Worm of Consciousness and Other Essays, by Nicola Chiaromonte. Edited by Miriam Chiaromonte. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 270 pp. Nicola Chiaromonte was an essayist in the original sense of that curious and difficult word. One feels that he …



Documentary in Search of a War  

Images of war carry a force the facts alone hardly ever sponsor. When American soldiers went to Vietnam, they also stayed at home, on television, in battle reports that droned for a precise interval and then ceased for 24 hours, …



Killers of the Dream  

In Hemingway’s story “The Killers,” two anonymous gray men walked into a lunchroom and said they were going to murder a prize fighter named Ole Andreson. Just what Andreson had done to deserve his fate was not clear. But he …



Ragged Dick  

Dirty Tricks or, Nick Noxin’s Natural Nobility, by John Seelye. New York: Liveright. 152 pp. Of all American myths “rags to riches” has been the most stubbornly enduring. Time may be right for a parting glimpse of our cherished national fiction. …