Charlie Bubbles: Albert Finney’s directorial debut, a story of how success can alienate a man from everything he really is rooted in, seems to begin and end nowhere in particular. Still, tension and sadness are finely wrought into the marrow of the spare plot; and Finney as both star and director grips your responses instantly and maintains a firm hold. Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland’s daughter, makes an inauspicious film debut as a young spider hoping to trap Finney the big literary fly in her web.
*" Rosemary’s Baby: Which witch is which is the plot of this incredibly believable tale of evil in modern-day New York. A young mother-to-be (Mia Farrow) wonders whether the
price of her husband’s (John Cassavetes) success is a hex on her baby, or whether she is dreaming the whole sorry mess. Tautly directed by Roman Polanski, Hitchcock’s heir to the label “Master of Suspense’’ (Knife in the Water, Repulsion).
^ The Producers: Comedy writer Mel Brooks’ uneven, nervous farce about a Broadway producer and his accountant who try to rig a financial success out of a theatrical flop is energized by the brilliant comic performances of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder (the timid undertaker kidnapped by Bonnie and Clyde). Brooks also directed the effort, and while there are acute satiric undertones constantly in play, his work is marred by his own excess.
The Next President: Britain’s hatchet-mannered satirist David Frost invites the top contenders for the U.S. presidency into his verbal coconut-shy. This 90-minute color special shows how Britons view the feverish American election activity. (CTV, Sun., July 28, 8.30 p.m. EDT.)
Barbara McNair Special: Canada’s Rich Little and singer Gordon MacRae support the nightclub star in this
variety show. (CTV, Sat., Aug. 3, 7 p.m. EDT.)
U.S. Republican Party Convention:
Both networks plan extensive coverage of the four-day political jamboree that should, barring major upsets, give Richard Nixon his second chance to achieve top office. The convention opens Tuesday, Aug. 6, and winds up with the candidate’s acceptance speech on Friday, Aug. 9.
Creative Persons: A continuing series of 30-minute film portraits of some of the world’s most creative personalities. The films were made by Canada’s Allan King (Warrendale) for the CBC and networks in the U.S., Britain and Germany. Subjects include playwright Max Frisch, author James Jones, sculptor Jacques Lipchitz and architect Walter Gropius. (CBC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EDT.)
The Human Voice: Ingrid Bergman performs the demanding role in this one-character drama by Jean Cocteau. (CTV, Sun., Aug. 11,9 p.m. EDT.)
^ Introducing Duke Pearson’s Big Band: Duke Pearson belongs to the same school as such titled titans as Ellington and Basie, but he’s a long way from ranking in the same class. Pearson’s peers are 15 talented, wellrehearsed jazzmen (including two Basie alumni) who blow cleanly and certainly from the leader’s own charts, mostly originals. But apart from an occasional solo flight, the whole effort is too right, too rigid, too proper. In short, it’s technical excellence minus the X factor: inspiration. (Blue Note BST 84276)
* Songs of Verdi and Wagner: The
youthful tunes and follies of the two titans of romantic opera are daringly exposed in a new Decca album. Tenor Sandor Konya revels in delightful ballads and art songs, mostly written when the composers were in their twenties. Drinking songs, dirges and schoolboy excesses are combined in a genuine incantation. (Decca DL 79432)
*" Haydn’s Creation: Two major record companies have just produced rival versions of Joseph Haydn’s immense oratorio, The Creation. Columbia led off with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, handicapped by a second-rate muster of vocalists. Coming from behind, London scored a triumph with Karl Munchinger, the Vienna Philharmonic and a first-rate singing phalanx. London leads in voices and style, but Columbia’s rich stereo is unbeatable. (London, OSA 1271, Columbia, M2S 773)
^ The Pop Goes Latin: Conductor
Arthur Fiedler pops the cork of a very frothy vintage on a recent RCA Victor album of Latin classics. Graceful style overflows in a sampling that ranges from Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance to a well-confected version of A Taste of Honey. Here’s easy listening with the silken strings of the Boston Pops Orchestra and beautiful trumpet solos by Roger Voisin, archpriest of the instrument. (LSC-2988) Sitar Music of India: Kartick
Kumar, a young and impetuous sitar
player with a flare for 16-beat rhythms, has upstaged his master, Ravi Shankar, with a trilling release on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Kumar dispenses with some of the slow, formless introductions and gets right into the wild, multi-beat sections of some traditional northern Indian ragas. (DGG 136 555)
The Chornovil Papers compiled by Vyacheslav Chornovil (McGraw-Hill, $5.95): It’s difficult to unscramble the sequence and sense of this ineptly edited collection of documents, but once the barrier is penetrated the book offers a significant look at the current state of intellectual freedom in the Soviet Union. Vyacheslav Chornovil, a Ukrainian writer, dared to protest the imprisonment, after secret trials, of 15 of his colleagues who criticized the hierarchy. His written protests, smuggled out of the USSR, are a scathing indictment of the system. As a reward for his effort, he too was jailed.
* The Algiers Motel Incident by John
Hersey (Alfred Knopf, hardcover $6.95; Bantam paperback, $1.25): In this shocking documentary, John Hersey turns his keen reporter’s eye on one aspect of last summer’s race riot in Detroit. With barely concealed outrage, he reconstructs the deaths of three Negro teenagers in the Algiers Motel and leaves no doubt that it was brutal murder by police, for which no one, as yet, has been punished. The book is more chilling — and a great
deal more important — than In Cold Blood. Pity it’s not as well written.
*" Being Geniuses Together by Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle (Doubleday, $8.50): The story of expatriate writers in Paris during the 1920s has been told so often that it’s taking on a mythic quality. Adding something — but not much — to the legend this time is novelist Kay Boyle, who was there in the flush of eager youth. Her approach is unusual; she’s exhumed the gossipy memoirs of literary impresario Robert McAlmon, first published in 1938, and given them perspective by adding alternate chapters of her own. All the old cast is there — Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Callaghan, Joyce, Gertrude Stein and the rest — and most of the old anecdotes. Was there ever another period like it, anywhere?
* Man Deserves Man: CUSO In Developing Countries, edited by Bill McWhinney and Dave Godfrey (Ryerson, $6.50 hardcover; $3.95 paperback): This book will be a marvelous tonic for pessimists who fear the younger generation is going all to pot. It’s a collection of letters from 30 volunteers in the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), a voluntary, non-government agency quietly helping the underprivileged in 40 African, Asian and Latin American countries to become self-sufficient. More than 1,400 volunteers have been sent out to contribute special skills and knowledge since the program began six years ago. The letters, which show that teachers have learned as much as their pupils, inspire pride, admiration and a very considerable amount of envy.
Selected Poems 1956-1968 by
Leonard Cohen (McClelland and Stewart, $5.95 hardcover; $2.50 paperback): Leonard Cohen’s own
choice of what he considers his best poems from four previous volumes, plus 20 new poems, display the full
range of his unique talent — Cohen as erotic bard of the bedroom, his fevered visions, painful racial memories, his undertones of violence and decay. Cohen’s international reputation as a troubadour now deserves to be matched by his stature as a poet.
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