New Movies: Blackened Comedy of Eros

In the 19th century, a Hungarian statesman developed a temporary obsession with chess. He hired a student to play with him for ten hours a day. In the end, the statesman was cured —but the student went mad.

In this century, Vladimir Nabokov, master of fiction and of chess (TIME cover, May 23), operates in somewhat the same manner. The film of one of his early works, Laughter in the Dark, eerily reproduces the commonplaces of experience but gives them an irrational tilt. The viewer who accepts the Nabokovian construction can experience an...

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