“im Fine, Just Hurting Inside”

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Ironically, the movies of which Benchley thought so little may be his most enduring work. James Thurber, not generally considered a sentimental man, wrote four years after Benchley died that he had left a “rich legacy of humor, comedy, satire, parody and criticism—all rolled into one in those … magnificent movie shorts.” Critics missed the point when they disparaged Benchley’s short essays, Thurber wrote, underestimating the tremendous skill that was required to create these “distinguished contributions to the fine art of comic brevity.” Critics also made a mistake when they tried to classify Benchley’s writing or place him in a “school” of humor. “To most of us,” Thurber wrote, “he stands alone, in a great good place all his own.” One of Benchley’s friends had remarked upon his death, “They’re going to have to stay up late in heaven now,” and Thurber wistfully agreed: “Yes, they’re staying up late, I know, and, what is more, they must be having the time of their infinities. Lucky angels.”