By the way, Mr. Crosby, how do you take criticism? Your recent
columns have not been up to your earlier standard. Your style is less
sharp and your ideas less pungent. Were you a flash in the pan? Have
you run out of amusing things to say?
Crosby (b. 1912), since 1965 in London with the Observer, had before that a
long career as columnist on the New York Herald Tribune ( 1935-65). His column on
the day of the present letter criticized a radio program in which it was maintained that
drama critics were unqualified to judge plays because they were not involved in writing
or producing them. Crosby added: "It's an idea that has been kicked around for some
time. It was most conspicuously and irritably advanced in a paid advertisement written
some years ago by Maxwell Anderson in what might best be described as blank prose."
The reference is to Anderson "To the Theatre Public," Herald Tribune, March 4, 1946, p. 10, cols. 1-2, which attacked drama critics for their insensitivity to the public's
concerns, not for their inexperience in play production. Crosby's column, a defense of
drama critics, was entitled "Radio in Review: Critics Are In Season," Herald Tribune, April 13, 1949, p. 23, cols. 3-4.
Autograph note in upper left corner: "That's right. Put it in the basket. Continue
the great tradition of American journalism. Never give a playwright an even break."
165. TO JOHN MASON BROWN
May 18, 1949
A lot of this is quotation, but I can't think of any better way to
say it. Forget the fifty dollars. This isn't work.
P.S. --By the way, I didn't write that dialogue you objected to in "Joan
2 It was probably stuck in at the last moment during the
shooting. You evidently don't know what goes on in the film business.
The writer has no control whatever. If Ingrid hadn't insisted on taking
out all human touches and making Joan a plaster saint the thing might
have had some quality. She wrecked that one. She had the power to
wreck it and she did. Moreover, she's completely unscrupulous. She
doesn't keep her word and she has no respect for a writer's work.