Cinema: Steel Butterfly

Toys in the Attic. Playwright Lillian Hellman is like a small, scared Racine. Her lines flip into the mind like well-aimed darts. Her scenes stack like well-designed dishes. Unhappily, there is seldom much nourishment in them. Hellman speaks her mind brilliantly but opens her heart rarely. When the moment requires feeling, she too often offers irony; when the theme invites tragedy, she resorts to melodrama; when the problem demands experiment, she is careful to be commercial. She is exciting but not moving. She writes superbly about sex but badly about love. She creates grand characters but not real people. She has...

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