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'Man' Overboard

March 22, 1998

As I write this letter, I am standing on my head in a corner where Randall Wallace, the writer-director of "The Man in the Iron Mask," told those of us who "give a damn" about authenticity to go ("Leo and the Old Boys," by Richard Covington, March 8).

It is a puzzlement to me how a project with a fantastic story already written and well-known, a spectacular cast, a historical period that is extremely well-documented, several predecessor film versions that were outstanding, and the current state of film technology could produce this overwritten, florid, inconsistent and, yes, anachronistic version of "The Man in the Iron Mask."

I suspect that Wallace fancies himself quite the auteur these days, in the same class with Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. Unfortunately, such turns out not necessarily to be the case. It is not enough to say "I am a young writer, but I am a writer." Wallace should heed his own words as spoken by d'Artagnan (paraphrased here), "Then be a good writer."

I courteously but strongly advise him to avail himself of some basic film writing classes or even a retrospective of work by film greats so that he can learn the fine art of directing one's own work properly. If he cannot find something locally, he will learn a lot by taking the $7 he would pay to see own movie and go see "Titanic."

NANCY BERMAN

Sherman Oaks

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