Arthur Miller, who would have been 100 on Oct. 17, is having a mini-festival in New York. An Olivier-winning revival of "A View From the Bridge" opens on Broadway next month and "The Crucible," starring Ben Whishaw and Sophie Okonedo, opens in the spring. Also, Off-Broadway, his seldom-seen "Incident at Vichy" will be revived at the Signature Theatre next month and, to really shake up expectations, a Yiddish version of "Death of a Salesman" -- with English supertitles -- is in previews before an Oct. 15 opening.
Picking a top-five-plays list by this Pulitzer-winning master is fairly easy. But when choosing the second five from his long, active, sometimes rocky career, expect fistfights. Here are my 10 favorites.
1. "Death of a Salesman" -- his 1949 Pulitzer winner, is virtually carved into the Mount Rushmore of American drama. In Willy Loman, the aging traveling salesman, Miller challenges middle-American values without alienating the very people he strips of self-delusion.
2. "The Crucible" -- his 1953 communist witch-hunt parable, set at the Salem witch trials, is as much a gutbucket suspense story as it is a chiseled monument against hypocrisy.
3. "A View from the Bridge" -- ripe 1955 Italian-American folk tragedy takes on immigration heartache through a Brooklyn longshoreman who loves his wife's 17-year-old sister too much.
4. "The Price" -- wrongly warehoused as middle-shelf Miller when it opened in 1968, this drama between two brothers-one rich, one poor -- peels the skin off such questions as the difference between selfish ambition and selfish altruism.
5. "All My Sons" -- this wrenching 1947 drama goes to the morally compromised center of a self-made businessman who profited by sending defective airplane parts to American troops.
6. "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" -- this slippery, voraciously vital, underestimated 1991 meditation on later life is a rude, randy defense of a successful businessman's raging sexual hungers.
7. "Mr. Peters' Connections" -- this criminally dismissed 1998 drama perfectly fused Peter Falk and a ruminating Miller in a strange and beguiling hallucination that, most of all, was about the pleasure of listening to smart old men think.
8. "Broken Glass" -- A successful bank henchman and self-hating Jew must face confusing questions in this 1994 drama as his wife's legs become mysteriously paralyzed and Hitler is on the rise.
9. "American Clock" -- rewritten in 1984 after a 1980 Broadway failure, the drama winds the clock back to stories of the Depression, the catastrophe that Miller always considered the defining event of his life.
10. "I Can't Remember Anything" and "The Last Yankee" -- these two small one-acts (the first part of a double bill at the Lincoln Center Theatre in 1987) were combined in 1998 to reveal powerful beauties-subtle, engaging, personable and shaded with the sort of moody emotional detail that can elude Miller's more declarative statements.