MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

CHECKLISTINGS

December 1 1968
MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

CHECKLISTINGS

December 1 1968

CHECKLISTINGS

BOOKS

A Scar Is Born by Eric Nicol (Ryerson, $3.50): Nicol proves you can’t keep a good humorist down, even when he’s been sandbagged on Broadway. He turns tragedy — his play lasted three performances — into comedy with this funny account of his six weeks as a BC bumpkin in New York last fall while the play.

Like Father, Like Fun, was in rehearsal. Among other things, Nicol can lay claim to the fastest pun in the West.

^ Two Innocents in Red China by

Jacques Hébert and Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Oxford, $5.50 hardcover, $2.50 paperback): Both Pierre Trudeau and Red China have changed in the past eight years but this account of his 1960 visit, written with his fellow tourist Jacques Hébert (published in Quebec in 1961 and just now translated into English) is a useful addition to the Trudeau file. It’s a chatty, rollicking narrative, part travelogue and part political reportage. The authors don’t say who wrote which part; at the time, it probably didn’t seem important.

Hunting Tigers Under Glass by

Mordecai Richter (McClelland and Stewart, $5.95): These 11 magazine pieces, written mostly for British and U.S. periodicals over the past seven years, deal with Expo, Jewish-American novelists, comic strips, cinema, Jews in sport, Israel and a variety of other subjects. Some are now dated, and Mordecai Richler is a better novelist than essayist, but there’s enough gritty observation, mordant humor and skewering of pretensions to make it worthwhile.

The Mackenzie King Record, Volume II, 1944-45, edited by J. W. Pickersgill and D. F. Forster (University of Toronto Press, $12.50): Mackenzie King turned 70 during the 15 months covered by this volume of diary entries, and it was the most hectic period of his life. The climactic year of the w'ar brought with it the

conscription crisis that racked the country; there was the second Quebec conference with Roosevelt and Churchill, the San Francisco Conference at which he helped draft the UN Charter, a federal election campaign and the blueprint for his postwar social-welfare legislation. King described all these events in his diary, and reveals how he fretted over speeches, ticked off his staff and was captivated by Shirley Temple when she visited Ottawa. He emerges as a fussy, lonely man and a shrewd politician.

TELEVISION

^ Canadian Physical Fitness Test:

Here’s your chance to sit in your armchair for an hour and find out how' fit you are (or are not). Co-hosts are Fred Davis and Lloyd Perd val; exercises are demonstrated by Jan Tennant (see cover) and Graham Frisby. (CBC, Sun., Nov. 24, 9 p.m., EST.)

The Wayne and Shuster Comedy Special: In the first of four hour-long shows John and Frank clown through The Three Musketeers; Don Gillies and Natalia Butko satirize "T0-easylessons” dance studios; Anne Murray of Halifax is guest singer. (CBC, Mon., Nov. 25, 8 p.m., EST.)

The Public Eye examines the U.S. gun-control controversy. Harold Classen, president of the National Rifle Association, is challenged by Canadian broadcaster Larry Zolf; other comments come from Senators Thomas Dodd and Joseph Tydings (who w'ant stiffer laws), U.S. military officers and gun-store owners. (CBC, Wed., Nov. 27. 10 p.m. EST.)

The Nature of Things: The next three themes in this examination of the technological explosion and its impact on our society are Central Power (Nov. 28), Man and Machines (Dec. 5) and Land and Water (Dec. 12). (CBC. Thursdays, 10.30 p.m. EST.)

^ Grey Cup football: Both networks carry the parade and the game. (Sat., Nov. 30. from 9.30 a.m. EST.)

^ Reptiles and Amphibians: Among creatures on view in this National Geographic special: the Madagascar chameleon and Australia’s green mamba snake. (CTV, Sun., Dec. 1, 7.30 p.m., EST.)

Tribute to Sir Ernest MacMillan:

The 7'oronto Symphony, the 7'oronto Mendelssohn Choir (both of which Sir Ernest conducted for more than 25 years) and the Festival Singers under the direction of Elmer Iseler were to give a public concert in Sir Ernest’s honor on Nov. 20. This hourlone program is from the videotape. (CBC. Wed.. Dec. 4, 10 p.m., EST.)

Festival: Donald Harron stars in Reddick, a new drama by Munroe

Scott about a young clergyman who runs a club for youthful misfits and hippies. (CBC, Wed., Dec. 11, 9.30 p.m. EST.)

RECORDS

*" Music From Big Pink (The Band): Insiders spotted it as the underground album of the year — and by now' it’s surfaced and selling like mad. Bob Dylan painted the cover illustration, Albert Grossman wrote the arrangements, and Levon Helm, a Canadian who once backed Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins around Toronto and later backed Dylan himself, leads the band. Result: a wide-ranging mixture of rock, folk, Dylan, country and blues on one track after another. Verdict: many worthwhile individual tracks with little rhyme or reason for being on the same LP. (Capitol SKAO 2955) ^ The Crazy World of Arthur Brown isn’t nearly so crazy on this Polydor record as it is on the stage. Working live. Brown marches out in a fulllength saffron robe and sets his hair on fire. On wax here he proves he could make it on his voice alone. It’s solid London rock based heavily on American blues. (543.008)

^ Electric Ladyland (The Jimi Hendrix Experience): Apart from a couple of good vocals, a fairly good drum solo and occasional flashes of brilliant guitar, the overbalance of electronics on this double-disc package will leave most listeners wishing somebody had moved in early and pulied the plug. (Warner Bros.-Reprise 2RS 6307)

^ A Genuine Tong Funeral (Gary Burton Quartet with orchestra) is unfortunately named, since jazz fans who’ve had their fill of mind-bending excursions into cacophony will likely shun this “Dark opera without words.” And that’s a pity, for this is dirgelike but no drag. Composer Carla Bley, inspired but not overwhelmed by the Orient, has charted a listenable new course for progressive jazz. (RCA ESP — 3988)

New Orleans and the Blues (Cap’n John Handy): Five great oldsters and three brilliant youngsters offer a tasteful exercise in Storyville-on-stereo, and even standard tunes that postdate early New Orleans jazz (e.g. On the Sunny Side of the Street, Blueberry //ill) lack only one authentic touch (thank goodness): the boys

blow' in tune. (RCA LSP — 3929)

^ Lucrezia Borgia: Spanish star Monserrat Caballé gives a blood-curdling rendition of lovable Lucrezia, w'ho dispatched three of her husbands and grappled fatally w'ith the fourth. With disarming ease, Caballé tosses off bel canto embellishments but manages to be tearfully poignant as La Borgia contemplates her illegitimate son. soon

to be poisoned by “Borgia w'ine.” RCA provides an excellent libretto and continuity in excerpts from Donizetti’s neglected masterpiece. (LSC 6176)

MOVIES

^ The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Assaulting the follies of the Crimean war and Victorian society, Tony Richardson has fashioned an epic out of some clever but cold revue sketches. His performers, especially Trevor Howard and John Gielgud, are \vonderful, but in the stirring charge itself, Richardson has duplicated the confusion of the original catastrophe.

^ Barbarella: Roger Vadim's version of the celebrated French comic strip w'itlessly mixes sex with science-fiction. Jane Fonda as the unendurably wide-

eyed heroine (here with John Phillip Law) is supposed to be a sort of Candy-in-orbit, but the flavor is consistently bland.

^ F’inian’s Rainbow: Though the songs from the old Broadway show are still lovely, there’s precious little gold left at the end of this Rainbow after all these years. The book is embarrassingly whimsical, Tommy Steele makes a relentlessly cute leprechaun, and even Fred Astaire — in his farewell dancing role — looks far too old for spring celebrations. Canadian Don Francks, however, shows signs of life. *" The Subject Was Roses: Patricia Neal returns to work after a crippling stroke four years ago, but otherwise this adaptation is notable only for raising one question: why Frank Gilroy’s wilted play, about an Irish couple in the Bronx and their son back from World War lí, was showered with bouquets by the Broadw'ay critics a few seasons ago.

^ I Love You, Alice B. Toklas is a

surprisingly funny trifle about a square, 35-year-old Jew'ish lawyer plunged into hippie madness by a batch of chocolate brownies made with marijuana. The caper gives Peter Sellers, a superbly restrained comic actor, his best material in some time.