Cinema: Low-Altitude Flight

The comedies of Milos Forman, notably Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen's Ball, have commonly been called humanistic, possibly because they refuse to be comfortably confined in any other genre. Their humor is neither primarily verbal nor visual; Forman's particular skill is ingenious observation, creating comedy from character and rigorously familiar situations. But his work also contains a trace of archness, a current of condescension. In none of his films has that tendency been more evident than in his latest, Taking Off.

Forman's subject for his first American film is, promisingly enough, the...

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