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Over the Top Over Falstaff — Into the New Year With Shakespeare and Sir John

… the brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to invent anything that tends to laughter, more than I invent or is invented on me: I am not…

On Christmas Eve: Looking for Shakespeare and Finding Dickens and Two Cats Under the Tree

Oh, now all common things become uncommon and enchanted to me. All lamps are wonderful; all rings are talismans. —Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Tree Through four decades of marriage, we’ve…

Brave New World — Tatiana Maslany’s Performance Lifts “Orphan Black” to a Higher Level

Friday afternoon I’m sitting in a parked car in south Philadelphia reading about the Spanish Civil War. It’s easy to imagine dark deeds brewing on a cold grey December afternoon…

“The Soul of All of Us Together” — Scheide, Schubert, Bach, and the Dance of the Organist

Once you reach a certain age, your catalogue of associations is so extensive and so many-sided that it’s possible to discover a personal connection to virtually any worthy subject that…

When the Purpose is “High and Strong” — Mike Nichols and “The Graduate” 

An audience is a ruthless, heartless, and unruly monster, and if it doesn’t sense purpose then get out of its way, because it’s going to be difficult …. But when…

On the Streets of Philadelphia — Discovering the Noir Universe of David Goodis

A nondescript sign hanging above an uninviting door on a street in Philadelphia says ART, BOOKS. The door opens easily and what you see on the other side makes it feel…

Poe’s Precipice of the Perverse: Hitchcock Takes the Plunge in “Vertigo”

I suggest that Hitchcock belongs —and why classify him at all? — among such artists of anxiety as Kafka, Dostoevsky, and Poe. —François Truffaut According to a 2012 critics poll…

“Too Young To Have Ever Lived” — Fliers Sporting With Life and Death in the Great War

As Princeton resident and professor emeritus Samuel Hynes demonstrates in The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War (Farrar Straus and Giroux $26), the romance of being a…

On Being Haunted: Jack Bruce, Jack Huston, and the “We’re Going Wrong” “Boardwalk Empire” Blues

People are so in love with Richard, but he’s killed like 89 people! —Terence Winter on Boardwalk Empire’s Richard Harrow What’s haunting me this Halloween season is the singing of…

John Berryman Joins Dylan Thomas in Life and Death: A Double Centenary

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. —Dylan Thomas…