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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.


TO FULLY UNDERSTAND the commonplace genius and grandeur of John Ford, you have to see through the viewfinder of other directors.When Ford was alive, Orson Welles used to say that the three greatest living film directors were "John Ford, John Ford and John Ford." To Ingmar Bergman, Ford was one of the great epic artists in movies. And to Francois Truffaut, "the supplen…

TURNER IS an uptight yuppie copa real obsessive compulsive who won't go to work until he shines and amply deodorizes his shoes, uses about 10 feet of dental floss and cleans every spill in the refrigerator. Hooch is a slobbering, crotch-sniffing, flatulent, ferocious, home-wrecking dog -- about as ugly or mean a beast as any junkyard ever had.Turner carries a Dustbuster …

"Miss Firecracker" is a terrific little movie based on Beth Henley's prize-winning play "The Miss Firecracker Contest."My advice is to see it. And don't dawdle. No one is likely to crook a little finger to preserve the run of such a worthy but forsaken cinematic orphan. It's the sort of movie the big exhibition chains book as an act of charity, to movie companies and …

IT'S JOHNNY CARSON'S time in the docket. He stands accused of: beating the tar out of his first wife, Jody; being a cold, distant and generally crummy father to his three troubled sons; hard drinking and even harder womanizing over a period of decades; coldly firing managers, producers and lawyers after close relationships of a decade or more and never looking bac…

"Right now, I don't love doing stand-up anymore," says Billy Crystal, one of the more gifted stand-up comedians and comic actors of his generation. He wants to act more, he says, something he feels that he's just beginning to get the hang of.The conclusive evidence is in and it's in his favor. He has just made the best film -- by far -- that he has ever been in: Rob R…

HARRY AND SALLY "meet cute," just as men and women are supposed to in the Ten Commandments of Dutiful Screenwriting -- a bit surly, perhaps, but cute, too.In fact, he's busy necking with someone else at the time. They're on the campus of the University of Chicago and getting ready to drive back to New York in Sally's car.He disengages from lip lock with his girlfriend…

Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is the definitive little guy vs. Washington movie.The tale is that when this monumental load of "Capra-corn" was premiered in 1939 for an audience of prominent Washingtonians, the angry mumblings and grumblings could be heard all the way to the Pennsylvania state line.Sidney Buchman wrote "Mr. Smith" but the basic myth of C…

HOT JAZZTHE SUBJECT isn't newness; it's newer than that. The New Wave of jazz hit in the early '80s. It wasn't really new, though, merely young (which, in dire spiritual straits, will sometimes suffice).The most proficient and prodigious practitioners of the New Wave -- Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Mulgrew Miller -- were partakin…

YOU LOOK up at your TV one day and discover that all the faces have changed.You look behind the screen and find the faces have changed back there, too.It's a bit like going to a party, meeting someone promising, stepping out for a long walk and then returning to find a whole new crowd of identical-looking people stationed territorially at the relish tray, hogging the …

"Effective immediately, your license to kill has been revoked!" scowls "M" rather frostily.Will James Bond have to give up his Walther PPK, sit on the veranda with his martini (shaken, not stirred) and watch the sun set even farther on the British Empire? Ah, if only he would.The second-worst thing, I suppose, about "Licence to Kill" is that it is going to give Americ…

"THIS WAS one of those years in the Territory when Apache smoke signals spiraled up from the stony mountain summits and many a ranch cabin lay as a square of blackened ashes on the ground and the departure of a stage from Tonto was the beginning of an adventure that had no certain happy ending . . ."That's the opening paragraph of Ernest Haycox's short story "Stage to…

Yusef Lateef, Nocturnes (Atlantic 7-81977, all formats). It took the semi-fraudulent marketing category "New Age Music" to allow Yusef Lateef the formal latitude and total artistic control he has sought and deserved for three decades. Even when he was one of the great exotic reed players in jazz (certainly its most soulful flutist), Lateef always said that his musical conc…

Roaring horsepower. Squealing tires. Frantic shouts into police radios. Automatic weapons blazing. A man on foot chasing a red BMW up an expressway ramp. Helicopters rising out of nowhere to whisk bad guys away to Bad Guy Haven. Automotive collisions of all sorts -- head-on, from the side, up the back. Automotive flips -- down side up, upside-down, every side in every…

ONE WEEK Pat Metheny was playing five nights at the old Tralfamadore on Main and Fillmore -- three of those nights to half-filled houses. A few months later he was selling out 2,000- and 3,000-seat halls long in advance.Suddenly a jazz musician who'd grown up expecting the usual audience response to jazz found himself a major figure in American pop music. (He will pla…

THE BUFFALO NEWS Jazz at the Albright-Knox series hits lucky seven this year, beginning next Sunday.It was in 1982 that Buffalo News publisher Stanford Lipsey first engaged saxophonist Sam Falzone and the all-star Buffalo Jazz Workshop to celebrate summer, Buffalo jazz and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, all at the same time, by playing a series of Sunday concerts on t…