Books and Arts
Dog Day Afternoon (Warner Bros.) At least once a week there's something in the newspapers that is believable only because it actually happened. And in the current strained relation between fact and fiction in our culture, fictionmakers of prose and film sometimes let life do the inventing for them, then use fictional techniques of conviction on the nearly incredible material. The producer Martin Bregman sponsored Serpico (TNR, Jan. 19, 1974) which was made in that impulse; out of the same impulse he now presents the much-superior Dog Day Afternoon.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail Cinema 5 The Invitation Janus If news from Britain these days is only moderately good, it's exceptional, and welcome. The British economic gloom is made even gloomier by the fact that Ken Russell, of Tommy, sometimes seems to be the only filmmaker on the island able to get backing. Untrue. Here is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is neither as sparkling as it is said to be nor as bad as it seems to be at the start.
Watchmen in the Night by Theodore C. Sorensen MIT Press; $8.95 "Watergate is like a Rorschach," Aaron Wildavsky observed at a Washington seminar last year.
Look at the Harlequins! By Vladimir Nabokov McGraw-Hill; $7.95 "I met," begins the novelist-narrator Vadim Vadimovitch (no family name given, though it may begin with the letter "N"), or Vladimir Vladimirovitch, "the first of my three or four successive wives in somewhat odd circumstances, the development of which resembled a clumsy conspiracy, with nonsensical details and a main plotter who not only knew nothing of its real object but insisted on making inept moves that seemed to preclude the slightest possibility of success.
The two most frequent questions are: "How many films do you see a week?" "Don't you get bored with going to films?" I've been writing about them in TNR since 1958, with one intermission of a year and a half, have heard each of these questions at least once a week in that time, and am always pleased by them. As for the first, the number has varied sharply from none to 12—usually it's about three—but the point is that most weeks it wouldn't have been less even if I weren't a critic. And, grown gray in the ranks, I still get a thrill out of getting in free.
The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; $12.95) In 1098 Lindbergh moved in the highest diplomatic and military circles of London, Paris and Berlin. He also made a trip to the Soviet Union, where he was well received and given a good look at Soviet aviation; but his subsequent comments about Russia—comments distorted, he claimed, by the press—caused the Soviets later to announce that if he ever came back to see [hem he would be arrested. His dislike of Russia and Communism permeates these Journals, as does his admiration for the Germans.