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November 03, 1976 - Image 15

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-11-03

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Arts & Entertainm ent Wednesday, November 3,. 976- Page Five

Ken Parsigian
E WERE SITTING Around the Club the other day dis-
cussing bridge, as we so often do. I polished off the
rest of my Grand Marnier as I listened to Don extol the'
virtues of the finesse.
"None of your silly Vienna Coups for me," he said. "Why
a simple Ace-Queen tenace over a King is worth six squeezes1
in my book."
"Squeezes!" I said brightly, those particular plays being
my forte. "Why certain hands simply beg for a squeeze."
"I SHOULD SAY SO," said Bruce. "Why I held a hand
this afternoon that would be unmakable for most people. But
it was makeable for me, by pressure of a squeeze."I
We urged him to tell) us about it, and he required no
further prompting. Grabbing up a napkin, he wrote down'
the following hand:



falls short of

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER but The Front remains first and ; the writer's scripts under his
foremost a comedy, which from own name, in return for ten
PLACKLISTING was never a the word 'go' triggers a philo- per cent of the royalties. Prince'
funny subject. Although its sophical-stylistic schism which swiftly adds a couple of addi-
absurd excesses often bordered director Ritt, and screenwriter tional author - victims to his
on a quasi-Marx Brothersish Walter Bernstein (themselves plagiarist patronage, and soon
lunacy, its legacy of ruined ca- former purge victims) were ob- becomes the overnight literary
reers and broken lives renders viously never able to reconcile. sensation of the television world,
a chilled, hollow ring to what The Front's setting is New.
ever laughter might be culled York City in 1953, its central A LITTLE STUNNED by his
from this crazy chapter of character one Howard Prince nouveau culture style but just
American history. (Woody Allen in his first adroit enough to con his way
And that's the problem with straight role) - a cashier, part- through it, Howard soon reaps
Martin Ritt's The Front, the time bookie and totally apoliti- in the benefits of his pseudo-
first "serious" Hollywood at- ( cal nurd not unlike the usual work: money, swanky clothes
tempt to probe the anti-Com- Allen losers - just minus the and living quarters, a gorgeous
munist witch hunts now two de- normal slapstick: Approached and brainy girl friend. He waltz-
cades removed. The picture's one day by a blacklisted TV es and waffles his way through
publicity men have made much writer friend, Howard agrees the world of The Beautiful Peo-
play over the grim and weighty to become a "front" for his ple.
nature of its subject matter; out-of-work buddy - to submit ButHoward's conscience soon
....._.._._ .. ._ __- _...... . _._.. ... _._._ .. . ......._B.u... _H_._w_..d.. ... _ ....__c. _e n__..e s__ ___ .


Called before The Committee
as an ostensibly "friendly" wit-,
ness to name the names of his
ostracized writer friends, How-
ard balks at the idea of turn-;
ing informer. The Committeel
persists, threatening him with
jail on charges stemming from
his bookmaking career. Howard,
sweats and frets, torn by con-
science and his natural instinctI
to survive; finally, in a burstl
of new-born nobility, he righte-
ously denies The Committee's
legitimacy, tells its members to
"go fuck yourselves," and
storms out of the hearing room.
At film's end we see Howard
being led off to prison, smiling-,
ly triumphant in his martyrdom,
secure in the knowledge that
his girl will be waiting for him
when he gets out.
THE FRONT is a nice, slick,
facile film, and all just a lit-
tle too easy considering its his-'
torical perspective. To the pic-
ture's creators, blacklisting was
not a dim memory drily sum-
marized in a' political science

have expected these men to script deserves. Andrea Marco-
bring a certain passionate rage vicci is fairly convincing as
to this long-overdue opportuni- Howard's idealistic girlfriend,
ty to spill their guts over the but the rest of the cast proves
piously sanctiofied indignities adequate at best and turgidly
which stigmatized them for one-dimensional at worst,
years. Yet time after time The IT'S NOT THAT The Front
Front pulls its punches, plays lacks good moments: Hecky
for the easy chuckle over the Brown's trip to perform at a
sublime howl, simplifies both backwoods - Catskills resort (a
persecutors and victims into true incident from Mostel's own
stick-figure buffons. blacklist period) brutally illus-
Part of the problem lies in blacls ero) brutayis-
I trates the groveling toadyism
the distracting presence of and humiliation purge victims
Woody Allen, who's virtue oft were forced to endure in order
comic genius here proves his to scrape even a few pennies
greatest vice. Although he han-te rTheoments of
dies his first heavy screen role togetier. There are mo n
with considerable dexterity, it's genuine aughter as wel.
difficult to take things too ser- tBut the essential sterility of
ously when it's Woody Allen, the Ritt-Bernstein stylistics re-
prime schlemiel, up there on sults from just such attempts
the big screen doing his farcical at juxtaposing humor with the
thing. I horror of the subject matter,
Zero Mostel fares consider- because the plodding straight-
ably better as the doomed Hec- arrow realism of its direction
ky Browvn; his great clown's Ifalls short of both humor and
face can metamorphose from horror.
the inane to the somber with The Front may be trying to
incredible facility, and he in- transcend its subject, but ends
vests his role with an impas- up merely trivializing it - and
sioned dignity greater than his trivializing history as well.



x x x
K Q x x
A 10 x
Y J x
1/ .J x

4 A 10 x x
Y xx
* J 10 9 8
4 Q xx


j.; .

JustinoDiaz gve
Slyric pefoTrmance
By NANCY GRASER to see why the role of "Mefis-
DESPITE some signs of vo- to" has won him international
cal fatigue resulting from acclaim. The lyric voice sud-
his rigorous concert schedule, denly turned dramatic and the
Justino Diaz of the Metropoli- aria cam4 alive, filling the hall
tan Opera sang an inspired and with "Mefisto's" evil laugh. He
iimpeessive recital at Hill Audi- also performed two encores, a
torium Monday night. His lyric fiery version of Larra's "Gra-
bass voice and charismatic nada" and the unfamiliar but

starts getting pricked. A come-
dian acquaintance named Hec-
ky Brown (Zero Mostel) is driv-
en to suicide from desperation
over being banished from his
livelihood; Howard's girlfriend
quits her job at the TV network;
in protest over the blacklisting,
and walks out on him when he
pragmatically protests her ac-
tion. And finally, inexorably, the
evil eye of the House Un-Amer-
ican Activities Committee turns
on Howard himself,

! x x x
.. K J x x x

f A x
x x

J 8
xx x

book -- it was a daily, living, -m. -..rw..-rtwm -..inminm - - w--- n - nw-r---wm-- - ;
cancer which engulfed many of PRE-GRADS PRE-MEDS PRE-DENTS :
them at the time. One would i

stage presence charmed the au- intriguing "Visione Veneziana"
"MY PARTNER, after. a long and irrational bidding se- dience with a program so wide- by Brogi.
vuence, jumped my four no trump to six hearts, and I, hav- ly varied in genre that only an In an interview after the con-
ing mentioned them earlier, simply gaped as he put down artist of his caliber could per- cert, Mr. Diaz discussed how
the not inadequate dummy," Bruce said, pausing to light a form it with such grace and his career got started and some.
technical ability, of his philosophies about sing-
Diaz opened the recital with ing.
"West opened the Jack of diamonds, having read in Wat- the Handel cantata Dalla guerra After attending the New Eng-
son's book that the correct lead form Jack-Ten-fourth might amorosa, consisting of three re- land Conservatory for two and
as well be the Jaci," he continued, "and I won my Ace, citatives and two arias. He dis- a half years, studying under.
East following low. played the vocal facility essen- Fredrick Jegel and Boris Gol-
tial to the successful perform- dovsky, he decided to leave
"I had two spades, five hearts (providinig they broke 3-2) J ance of such an ornamented school and hire an agent. His
three diamonds, and one club - 11 tricks in all. The 12th work, especially in the first' first audition was with the
could come from spades if that suit broke favorably, but that aria, "Non v'alleti un occio Metropolitan Opera Studio,
was unlikely," Bruce said as he ground out his butt and nero", which contained numer- where he was accepted. Not
ous trills and runs. Flexibility long after, he won the Met au-
quickly lit another. and lightness in the bass voice ditions and at age 23 started
"NO," HE SIGHED, "there had to be a way to make the are usually difficult to 'achieve, his career at the Met.
.' yet Diaz handled both aspects Diaz believes ;a singer miust
hand without a spade break. Stopping only a moment to sur- yethDase. dbeatsa belie singecm-
ve tehad, qikl eaiedthtifte ero wt tewith ease. be totally honest with the corn-
vey the hands, I quickly realized that if the person with the A set of six Brahms songs poser and ultimately with him-
long diamonds had the long spades too; then I was facing follwed, offering a stylistic self, concerning his capabilities
a baby simple squeeze. Rather proud of myself, I must ad- contrast to the more formal and limitations. He insists that
mit, I led my King of spades, which West won with the Ace. Handel piece. Diaz seemed the process of becoming a sing-
He returned a heart to my Ace. I now led a small club to more relaxed as he eased into er takes a long time because
dummy's Ace,' then drew trumps, West showing out on the the lushness of Brahms' music, every aspect of the voice, the
third round. There was still the chance spades break, so I illuminating the moods of the repertoire, and the lifestyle
led both my Queen and Jack. But East showed out on the Lieder with a richness of tone must be assimilated.
Jack, setting the stage for my squeeze. At this point the hands and impeccable German dic-
w tion. Of the six songs, "Stand-
were: chen" and "O wusst' ich doch PLATINUM ITALIC SET
North ; den Weg zuruck" best show- Contais afountain pen, f ve
A ed his ability to interpret both\ j'
the playfulness and broodiness calte randyisuct,
"*f K Q x of Brahms. {anu azf ron~ y $50o.

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Sx THE LAST PIECE performed
Wet East before intermission was "Il la-
410 A cerato spirito" from Verdi's Si-
Si- mon Boccanegra. It was clear.
* J 10 9 * x -'that he enjoyed singing in his
4x 4 K J x x nrhnarv medium, but he also!
South f seemed to be saving his best for
#48 the final aria of the proaram.
The second half of the pro-
xram opened with three songs
by Fazrre. He denicted two of
x tese. "Chanson d'amrnnr" and
"Mandoline" with esnecial ten-
"On my penultimate heart, West shed a club, as did dum- derness and sensitivity, and the;
my and East. Now, I- led my last little spade and spread resi'lt was exquisite.
my hand. West was fixed. If he tossed a spade, my 8 would The most unusual group of.
be good, and if he threw a diamond instead, dummy's King songs on the program consisted
and Queen would 'drop his Jack and 10 making dummy's of; three Cuban songs by Mpnt-
small diamond good for my 12th trick," Bruce said, look- salvage entitled "Cuba dentro
'ng pleased with himself. de un piano", "Canto negro,"
and "Cancion de cuna nara dor-
"AND THAT IS HOW you played the hand?" I asked. edia n nefr tb wthe seem-
"Well, uh," he hedged, "not uh, exactly-" 'ribbean musical idiom that he
"I rember now,' cried Don, who has been trying to find even clapned along with the
a 12th- trick via a finesse. "I was dummy, and you didn't rhythmic "Canto negro."
make the hand. Although I'm not quite( sure why. Maybe if AFTER performing 'Al tuo
you'd tried a deep finesse-?" trono" from I Promesi Sposi,
,rhe sang "Mephisto's Serenade"
"Nonsense," Bruce replied, "but you are right. 1 di4n't from Gounod's Faust as his fin-
make the hand. That palooka, Greg did me in. When I led al programmed piece. It is easy
the King of spades, he ducked his Ace; and he ducked again
when I ledhthe Queen. Now, I could no longer rectify the
count, and had to concede down one."

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"A REMARKABLY BRILLIANT defense from our not so
brilliant friend," I replied. "Maybe we have misjudged him?"
"No, no, no," Bruce exclaimed, shaking his hands wildly.'
"You don't understand. He didn't do it on purpose. He had
the Ace of spades mixed in with his clubs, and he didn't
realize it until the fourth trick, when I led clubs!"
Did I do that?" asked a surprised Greg, who had been
strangely quiet the whole time. "Well, at least it didn't cost
the coptract; that would have been unforgiveable."

--~- -i-


77 ;I,

U-M Gilbert and I
U Sullivan Socet
for Spring Production

A Student Run
Big Brother/Big Sister
Take a break from your books!
Give some of your time
to gain a friend.
r -rce nerver

Grace, precision, sensational tumbling and juggling acts, thrilling feats
on bicycles, chairs and tables, and aerial acts-all part of this weekend's
dazzling performance on the stage of Hill Auditorium. Complete with
elaborate costumes and the accompaniment of Chinese musicians, these
65 performers bring this andient and integral part of the Chinese culture
to the Western World,
'TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE from $3,50 to $7


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