TABLE OF CONTENTS

film

Contempt, The Thomas Crown Affair, Accident, The Stranger, and Persona

A big sour yawn pervades the air of movie theaters, put there by a series of tired, cheerless, low emotion heroes who seem inoculated against surprise, incapable of finding any goal worthy of their multiple talents. The yawn is built into people who seem like twins though they are as various as the teetering scriptwriter in Contempt, the posh master crimester of the Thomas Crown Affair, and that ultimate in envy and petulance who is the philosophy professor approaching middle age in Accident. Each of these three heroes (Michel Piccoli, Steve McQueen, Dirk Bogarde) shifts constantly in a voluptuous way between mobility—driving trickily in flashy little cars, making fast-cut repartee while rushing into an airport—and its opposite, the most deadening kind of innocuous living.

The disenchantment that sweeps over the theater is also caused by a series of technicians who are quite literally

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