Clare’s religious conversion, and hasnnever recovered. His hostess was witty,nrich, beautiful and as nice to him as shencould be. To be sure, Sheed is impressednwith her numerous careers, but thosenroles are not of interest to him. Had shennever been anything but a Ridgefield,nConnecticut housewife, he would havenwanted to write the book anyway, simplynbecause he is crazy about her. After all,nmost of her prominent houseguests borenhim. He identifies the issues of the daynbroadly (like World Wat II), and Clare’sndetractors are seen as motivated by pettynjealousy rather than by honest differencesnof opinion. He claims that his subjectnenvies the opportunity of SandranO’Connor (Clare’s formal educationnended without even a high school diploma),nbut he gives us no indication of thenkind of Supreme Court justice she mightnhave been. Besides, who cares; this is notna biography, after all. What’s importantnis that the record be set straight. Clare’snreputation suggests that the woman is insufferable,nwhereas to Sheed she is kindnessnitself.nJ| ot out of humble admiration alonendoes Sheed pay tribute to Clare BoothenLuce, for Sheed is in the foreground allnthe way. Like Diana Trilling, he writes innan overly self-conscious style ill-suited tontheir respective narratives. If, unlike Mrs.nTrilling’s, Sheed’s philosophizing doesnnot cause readers to climb the drapes, hisnstudied casualness nevertheless betrays anlack of substance. His appraisal of hisnmother’s opinion of Clare provides antypical example: “My very Englishnmother . . . never quite saw ‘ine. point ofnClare, though she had no special objectionn(my mother never saw the point ofnthe Japanese either).” It is humorous,nbut what does it mean? Later Sheed remarks,n”Luce was no substitute for a religion.nSpace limitations and all that.”nsheed’s overdressed style makes the substancenof his work seem all the morenshabby. His organization of ideas alsonleaves something to be desired. Toonmany of the concepts parading betweenncapital letters and periods are merelyn16inChronicles of Calturenphrases masquerading as sentences. Likenthis. Or this. One or two can liven prose,nbut more begin to chop up the necessaryncontinuity. Enough already.nAlthough Sheed’s book is not a biography,nhe still promises more than hendelivers. He mentions Mrs. Luce’s confessionalnpieces in McCall’s without elaboratingnon them. He vows to take upnHelen Lawrenson’s unflattering Esquirenpiece and Faye Henle’s book on Clare,nbut, while both are mentioned again, il­nlumination never comes. Any interestingnidea is labeled a thought for anotherntime.nHowever hurried and undeveloped itnis, though, Clare Boothe Luce is harmlessnenough. The many pages of pictures, innfact, are very pleasant indeed, and thosenwho have known the author or subjectnfor decades may find the reminiscencesnsatisfying. For the rest of us, Sheed’s indexnand footnotes should lead us to thenreal story. DnThe Fans on Their Way to the ForumnJohn Simon: Reverse Angle: A Decadenof American Kims; Clarkson N. Potter;nNew York.nDwight Macdonald: On Movies; DanCapo Press; New York.nThe Letters of Nunnally Johnson; Editednby Dorris Johnson and Ellen Leventhal;nAlfred A. Knopf; New York.nby Gary S. Vasilashnin 1981 a trashy movie entitled ThenFan appeared for a mercifully brief run.nBasically, it concerns a man in his latenteens or early twenties who is so takennwith a Lauren Bacall-type actress (verisimilitudenis enhanced by Bacall playingnthe role: how far the great have fallen)nthat in order to get close to her, he cutsnand slices anyone in his way or in her generalnvicinity with a straight-edge razor.nThe moral of the story: one shouldn’t seentoo many movies.nFilm critics, of course, must see numerousnmovies, films, motion pictures.nAlthough I don’t think that Messrs. JohnnSimon and Dwight Macdonald havenmuch in common with the cretinousncharacter in The Fan, I do think that thencaveat of that film applies to them, asnwell. The danger is that one will becomenMr. Vasilash is associate editor of Qaionicles.nnnsickened with surfeit. Symptoms differ,nbut most become bilious.nReaders of movie reviews in metropolitanndailies are allowed only a synopsis ofna movie, whether it is the latest ImportantnFilm by Michelangelo Antonioni ornanother cinematic bloodbath by JohnnCarpenter. The newspaper movie-reviewernis writing for a tight deadline, andnsince a number of films are back in thencan within a week, coverage must bengiven with great haste. The reviewer cannotnafford to spend too much time thinkingnabout what the film means—if itnmeans anything—thus he simply providesna summary of the plot. Availablentime is spent generating strings of adjectivesnthat will appear in subsequentnnewspaper ads or flippant remarks thatnwill go out with the evening’s trash. Toonmany movies and too little time makenmany newspaper movie-reviewers honoraryngraduates of the Colley CibbernSchool of Panegyrics and Wisecracks.nJohn Simon is ostensibly different. Henis an emdite man who writes about filmsnfor National Review and other more-orlessnrespected publications. I suspect thatnhis pen is not often pushed by deadlines.nSimon is something of an expert on language,nand his expertise is apparent notnonly in his work on that subject, but innhis typically felicitous prose on other topicsnas well. He is obviously a “serious”ncritic. In an essay that appears in ReversenAngle, a collection of over 100 of hisn