Cinema: A Fatal Desire to Please

Tender Is the Night (20th Century-Fox) is a good movie that had every reason to be bad. The novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald on which the film is based is a miracle of literary chic; it reads as if written in expensive perfume on the stationery of the Ritz. But literary style can't be photographed, and in other respects the novel is sort of a mess. The plot is often gappy and sometimes sappy; the characters are superficially silly and fundamentally unreal. The intellectual apparatus of the tale—a compendium of cocktail party chatter about psychiatry—is almost pathetic. What's more, in the...

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