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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Swing Time’

4 April 2019
... I now see all kinds of details I hadn’t seen before, or hadn’t stopped to think about. There is the careful, non-intrusive touch of the directors (Mark Sandrich for Top Hat and Shall We Dance and GeorgeStevens for Swing Time); and there are the differences among Irving Berlin (Top Hat), Jerome Kern (Swing Time) and George Gershwin (Shall We Dance) as composers. There is some amazing dialogue (in ...
20 June 1985
Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... it seem less drab and sordid – monochrome, after all, has its consonance with the vilenesses of 1939-45. Max Hastings’s Victory in Europe is ‘brightened’ by stills from color film shot by GeorgeStevens, a Hollywood director (he later made Shane). Stevens ran an official unit attached to the Allied Armies’ Supreme Headquarters, but military procedures called for all movie coverage to be in ...

Out of the Lock-Up

Michael Wood: Wallace Stevens

2 April 1998
Collected Poetry and Prose 
by Wallace Stevens, edited by Frank Kermode and Joan Richardson.
Library of America, 1032 pp., $35, October 1997, 1 883011 45 0
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... Asked in 1933 what his favourite among his own poems was, Wallace Stevens said he liked best ‘The Emperor of Ice-Cream’, from Harmonium (1923). The work ‘wears a deliberately commonplace costume’, Stevens said, ‘and yet seems to me to contain something of the ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift

7 October 2010
The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... drinking Cabbage Patch doll. Clift made relatively few films, but initially at least he chose well, working with most of the best Hollywood directors of the time: Hawks, Zinnemann, William Wyler, GeorgeStevens, Hitchcock. In ten or so of his 17 films, he is, by anybody’s reckoning, flawless. It’s not surprising that John Ford never showed an interest; the ‘manly’ directors with whom Clift ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... of the private life. And then the sestet chillingly spells out what the results of all this are likely to be, as The armies waited for a verbal error With all the instruments for causing pain. Stevens, the elderly butler in Kazuo Ishiguro’s third novel, The Remains of the Day, would never be so vulgar as to price anyone’s shoes, but much of his earlier life was discreetly spent in the presence ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... Press, Nicholas looked like he could manage very well on his own. He edited Seven, an early venue for Dylan Thomas and the New Apocalypse poets, but his real coup had been to get several Wallace Stevens poems published in Britain, much to Stevens’s pleasure. Meanwhile, his own poems kept coming, and by 1944 a Selected, The Glass Tower, came out, expensively illustrated by Lucian Freud. He got ...

Above it all

Stephen Sedley

7 April 1994
Suing Judges: A Study of Judicial Immunity 
by Abimbola Olowofoyeku.
Oxford, 234 pp., £27.50, December 1993, 0 19 825793 7
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The Independence of the Judiciary: The View from the Lord Chancellor’s Office 
by Robert Stevens.
Oxford, 221 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 19 825815 1
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... with real life that nobody could tell him anything, like the one I recall announcing as a well-known fact that all a working man would ever do with a large award of damages was buy a pub. Robert Stevens in a footnote cites a nice antidote from a law lord in 1833: ‘Here is a contract made by a fishmonger and a carrier of fish who know their business, and whether it is just and reasonable is to be ...
3 March 1988
The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 571 15013 6
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... the Emersonian position’, ‘the Emersonian inclination’. A major aim of The Renewal of Literature is to establish what, or rather who, he has modified: among poets, Whitman, Frost and Stevens; among critics and theorists, John Hollander, Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, George Kateb, Richard Rorty and Sacvan Bercovitch. Strong claims are made for the validity of the Emersonian position – ...

Pioneers

Christopher Reid

3 September 1981
Some Americans: A Personal Record 
by Charles Tomlinson.
California, 134 pp., £6.50, June 1981, 0 520 04037 6
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... chanced upon the work of these American trail-blazers at a time when they were virtually unknown in this country. Discovered at random, long and clandestinely puzzled over, the few pieces by Pound, Stevens, Moore, Crane and others that came to his attention gradually revealed that there were other ways of writing verse than those prescribed either by the Dylan Thomas school of apocalyptic word-chimers ...

Foreigners

Denis Donoghue

21 June 1984
Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... a new collection, a biography, a translation, a critical study. Bayley doesn’t claim that these writers are the best of their kind or jewels of their country. Many of them are American: Whitman, Stevens, Ashbery, Robert Lowell, Berryman, Cummings, and I suppose Auden. The English are Larkin and Betjeman. Russians and other foreigners include Pushkin, Blok, Gogol, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva ...

First Pitch

Frank Kermode: Marianne Moore

16 April 1998
The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore 
edited by Bonnie Costello and Celeste Goodridge et al.
Faber, 597 pp., £30, April 1998, 0 571 19354 4
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... a transparently simple language, understandable without effort. Avoidable slips of that kind would have irritated Marianne Moore, who repeatedly insists on the virtue of accuracy, whether in Wallace Stevens’s poems or in Ralph Kirkpatrick’s harpsichord playing (‘gossamer precision’) or, indeed, in translation, at which she showed herself to be exceptionally good. Still, her editors have, as they ...

Oldham

Frank Kermode

22 May 1980
The Reign of Sparrows 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 69 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 904388 29 8
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Souvenirs 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 191 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 904388 30 1
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... it first appears. The implicit is Fuller’s special interest, and it goes with a sense that poetry, working on it, will not quite destroy it; it makes the visible a little hard to see, as Wallace Stevens, early admired by Fuller, once remarked. Or, in another favourite Fuller locution, it ought to be not unimplicit, which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be clear. I particularly like a poem in Buff, the ...
14 June 1990
... of the ‘free press’ have ended with 93 per cent of national daily and Sunday newspapers concentrated in the hands of a mere five people. Indeed, with only three people – Maxwell, Murdoch and Stevens – controlling 80 per cent of it. We might well ask whether we have not simply returned full circle to a 1694 triple pre-censorship. The implications for broadcasting were ominous. Worse was to come ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue

4 October 1984
A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George​ Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... but viable forms, but many ideas merely Lead one thither into a morass of their own good intentions. The reference to ‘one idea’ recalls the passage in ‘Esthétique du Mal’ where Wallace Stevens dismisses                                      the lunatic of one idea         In a world of ideas, who would have all the people Live, work, suffer and ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester

8 June 1995
A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... of musicals, but how many musicals are great films? Or, speaking of moments, the killing of Jack Palance by Alan Ladd in Shane is exquisite, but Shane as a whole is a phoney. (But its director, GeorgeStevens, did direct a musical that’s a serious candidate for greatness: Swing Time.) And the problem of evaluating the makers is vastly complicated, as it is with the Elizabethan and Jacobean plays ...

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