Tuesday, November 13, 2007

RIP Ira Levin

I read the bulk of Levin's mega-selling output with undiluted pleasure back in the day; Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys From Brazil are classic page-turners, and the first made for a classic film, too. (The others are, respectively, an eternal catchphrase not even a second-rate comic remake could diminish, and a guilty pleasure, itself slated for repurposing, with a peerless cast of overacting old hams.)

But like I'm sure many theatergoers of a certain age I have him to thank for my love of the medium, courtesy of the long-running comic thriller Deathtrap, the kind of play no one writes or produces anymore. The 1982 film version was a stodgy miss for Sidney Lumet but Levin's tasty Tony-nominated twists made for delectable theater, ably served up by Robert Reed (successfully shucking off Mr. Brady late in the show's run) and Tony nominee Marian Seldes, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for not having missed one of its 1,793 performances. With material as plummy as that I wouldn't have missed one, either. The New York Times bids farewell here.

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