Poor word choice draws national attention!

THE SHAME. I've been blurbed. And there's nothing I can do about it. This is not a retraction. The film in question is The Business of Strangers. The actress is Stockard Channing, who delivered, I wrote, "a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination." Later, in The New York Times, there was my blurb in the movie ad: "Channing's performance is worthy of an Oscar!" D'oh! Funny how one missing word—plus that added exclamation point—can alter the meaning of an entire sentence.

Why hadn't I written, say, "When the Oscar nominations roll around, Channing's performance should not be overlooked"? Wordier, yes, but less blurbable. But I will not be blurbed again. (Or at least not by fair means.) Look forward to the most evasive and inscrutable syntax possible in my coming reviews. I plan to make Henry James look pithy and succinct. Verb and subject will be separated by at least 20 dependent clauses.

Here are a few samples of my new strategy for avoiding blurbery:

*"Marlon Brando's performance in On the Waterfront, while sweaty, muscular, and thoroughly male, should not, Oscar-wise, be considered among the lesser, humdrum fellow thespians with whom he shares the 1954 spotlight. Also, the picture ain't so bad itself."

*"Raging Bull? Robert De Niro? I don't know. Sure, he fights pretty good, but does he have to curse so much? An Oscar for the guy? Well—that's going out on a limb. And what's wrong with the color in this movie, anyway?"

*"Gone With the Wind is no ordinary picture. How many AMPAS nomination categories are there? It could take them all, maybe. (But don't tell anyone I said so.)"

*"Talk about sand! I've never seen so much of it in Lawrence of Arabia! If there's an Academy Award for sand, the movie certainly deserves one. In the other categories? Who knows?"

*"Supremely witty and well-acted as All About Eve may be, no discussion of its Oscar prospects would be complete without noting that it is, without a doubt, absolutely, positively, indisputably one of the movies made in 1950. So it's eligible in that sense."

*"Oscars for Ben-Hur? Some may say yes. Others may say no. This critic opines maybe—maybe deserved, maybe not, maybe inescapable, but certainly maybe."

*"Citizen Kane? Crap."

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