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"You Make it Work or You Find Something Else to Do"

Now in her 80s, Frances Williams is still acting -- long after many of her peers have retired. She has a storied career in theater and film, and helped found nine theater companies. An advocate for meaningful roles for African Americans, she now costars in the television show Frank's Place.


RCA Reissues Two Kurt Weill Recordings

"Berlin" and "American Theater Songs" are now available on a single CD, featuring Weill's wife and collaborator Lotte Lenya. But some of the songs have been cut or edited for brevity. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz calls that decision "immoral," and says the original LPs are now more essential than ever.


Festivals in the Mountains

Critic-at-large Laurie Stone reviews this year's batch of theater festivals in western Massachusetts. She was especially taken by a production of Bertolt Brecht's Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, which recasts Nazis as Chicago gangsters.


Reverence for the American Jesus

Martin Scorsese's new movie, The Last Temptation of Christ -- adapted from a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis -- takes its cues from old western movies. Film critic Stephen Schiff says the director evangelizes through the back door, convincing us that we really are watching the greatest story ever told.


Showtime's Spooky Thriller "Gotham"

Critic David Bianculli says the cable network's new made-for-TV movie is great, thanks to its excellent performances, photography, and ghastly concept. But the lackluster script keeps Gotham from being a classic.


Prolific Film Director Sidney Lumet

Lumet is known for completing movies quickly and under budget. He's made 38 films in 30 years -- a pace typically associated with the studio system of early Hollywood. He joins Fresh Air to discuss the consistency of American actors, including stars like Al Pacino and Henry Fonda, and the production of several of his classic movies.


Celebrating Bernstein's 70th Birthday

Classical musical critic Lloyd Schwartz says the new CD, The Bernstein Songbook, avoids the composer's orchestral flops, instead featuring excerpts from his exuberant operas and musicals.


A Movie with the Impact of a Just Say No Ad

Film critic Stephen Schiff says that Michael Keaton is too good an actor to star in Clean and Sober, a movie that focuses more on problems than characters. Schiff says the film feels like it was made for TV, rather than the big screen.


Remembering "A Difficult Actor"

Accomplished stage and screen actor Simon Callow wrote a biography of Charles Laughton, from whom he drew tremendous inspiration. Callow says Laughton's skill in part stemmed from the late actor's self-hatred and closeted homosexuality.


Basic Plumbing: An Hour's Worth of High Drama

Critic and homeowner Ken Tucker reviews an instructional video about basic home repair, which enthralled him with the actors' calm, zombie-like performances. Tucker also recommends VHS releases of Cry Freedom and Tampopo.


A Juiceless and Didactic Baseball Movie

Eight Men Out, about a 1919 baseball scandal, is directed by John Sayles. Film critic Stephen Schiff says there are some good performances, but the movie is more of a moralistic argument than a story; it could have used some of the wit Sayles injected into his earlier B-movies.


Bringing Back Fats

A revival of Ain't Misbehavin', featuring the original cast, is now playing on Broadway. Critic-at-large Laurie Stone says she jumped at the chance to see it. Overacting and exaggerated choreography plagued the first act, but the cast showed restraint during the last half.


Crossing Delancey: The Fresh Air Review

Joan Micklin Silver's film, set in New York City, is about a single woman in the publishing industry who recruits a matchmaker to find love. Film critic Stephen Schiff says it reminds him of the TV show Moonstruck, but without the motivational message.


Horror as High Tragedy

Film critic Stephen Schiff says some viewers can't get past the graphic violence in David Cronenberg's movies to see the craft beneath. Now they have a chance with Dead Ringers, about twin gynecologists, both played by Jeremy Irons. The film may be less explicit, but it still features Cronenberg's signature psychological dread.


A Quiet Landmark Musical

Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz never saw She Loves Me on Broadway, but recently discovered the reissued original cast recording. He says the musical has the feel of classic operetta, and succeeds at everything it sets out to do.


A "Bleary-Eyed Paean" to Dian Fossey

Film critic Stephen Schiff says the new biopic about the late zoologist, Gorillas in the Mist, is malarkey, with a script that shies away from the most compelling parts of Fossey's story. But star Sigourney Weaver shines.


Four Stories by Somerset Maugham

Critic Ken Tucker reviews the home video release of Quartet, which features four adaptations of Somerset Maugham's works by four different directors. Maugham himself introduces the film. Tucker appreciates the movie's older, romantic style. He also recommends Broadcast News, Frantic, and A Roman Holiday.


"Lip Service" Playwright Howard Korder

Korder's play, about a television journalist, is being adapted into a TV movie for HBO. He talks about his frustration with the static nature of television writing, and what it takes to craft great dialogue.


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