Should drama or film critics reveal the ending of a play or a movie in their reviews—especially when the ending is a surprise? Should a review of Citizen Kane reveal the identity of “Rosebud”?
Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal’s drama critic, thinks not. In his review of the hit play at New York Lincoln Center, War Horse, he vowed silence twice, citing “critical etiquette” and “the drama critic’s code.”1
Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, the co-chief film critics of the New York Times, disagree, and their opinions about revelations provide an important lesson for presenters. Mr. Scott has no qualms about letting the cat out of the bag:
Anna Karenina dies at the end. Madame Bovary too. Also Hamlet and just ...