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January-February 1983

John Kenneth Galbraith on David Attenborough’s Gandhi, special midsection on video games, Altman’s TV plays, W.R. Burnett interview, Wallace Shawn in Strange Invaders, 1982 movie revue and Oscar predictions

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1982 was a year of contrasts: E.T. and Inchon, Francis Coppola’s One from the Heart and David Begelman’s one for the road. Herein we offer a quartet of backward glances. Richard T. Jameson pays tribute to E.T.—you remember, the movie. Eight industry experts tell Anne Thompson who’ll be nominated in the Oscar sweepstakes next month: Gandhi, Tootsie, Sophie, E.T. David Chute scans the screen for some promising New Faces of ’82. Stephen Harvey and the editor poke light-fingered fun at the year gone by, and six critics pick their ten best films.

Winner of just about every award but the Nobel Peace Prize, Gandhi is as much a motive as a movie, and perhaps more a production story than anything else. John Kenneth Galbraith, who served as U.S. Ambassador to India in 1961-62, considers the film as a historical pageant, and Joan Goodman traces Richard Attenborough's heroic 20- year effort to put his dream on screen

You play it; it plays you. Videogame fever is a contagion as old as the carnival peep show. It applies artful technology to the greatest common denominator: fun. But as soon as a videogame programmer put his auteur name on his software, you knew the trend was serious enough for a FILM COMMENT Midsection. Mike Moore describes the bustling arcade scene. Richard Gehr tells How to Read a Videogame. Sue Adamo charts the movie industry’s foray into Arcadia. Harlan Jacobson “reviews” the latest games. And Marc Mancini appraises the wonders of movies shown at world's fairs, from 1900 to the present.

The prime-time season may be as bad as ever, but there’s good viewing in the twilight zone of cable and syndication. Plays and musicals are aired in a profusion undreamed of since the Fifties. Robert Altman has brought three plays to cable; and this month the Royal Shakespeare Company’s nine-hour Nicholas Nickleby is glorifying the Mobil Showcase. Richard Corliss offers a guide to the best to be seen on Play TV.

The Strange Behavior folks are back, and David Chute is with them. The Chicago festival revels in controversy; Marcia Froelke Coburn reports.

Mitch Tuchman interviews a Danish Odysseus named Jacob Holdt on his five-hour film essay of the U.S.

You think Hammett and Chandler were tough? Listen, pal, Burnett wrote the book on tough-36 gangster and western novels that became movies like Little Caesar, High Sierra, and The Asphalt Jungle. Just before his death, Burnett talked (tough, of course) with Ken Mate and Pat McGilligan about his 50 movie years.


The scars of the first atomic bomb are still with us, and the evidence is on 16mm. By Amos Vogel.

On PBS, an expert adaptation of Wagner’s Ring turns great opera into great TV. John Engstrom reports.