The theory that Joel E. Siegel puts forth in his review of Panic (“Our Most Unforgettable Character,” 1/12)—that the collapse of the Hollywood studio system robbed us of the pleasures of the character actor and that elevating modern day “secondary actors” to above-the-title status “might not be such a hot idea”—would be interesting except for one fact: Most of the character actors he mentions were the stars of B-movies.

The B-movies may not have always been in the highest quality (although Marjorie Main’s Ma and Pa Kettle series is certainly amusing), but they did give supporting actors a chance to shine as the stars of their own movies.

William H. Macy, a fine actor of stage, television, and screen, may not be at his best in Panic, but to say that he shouldn’t star in a movie is ridiculous. I’d rather see Macy in a half-baked “B” drama like Panic than watch Tom Cruise in an “A” movie any day of the year. Maybe the problem is that Panic plays better on television—I saw it on Showtime over the summer, and as a TV movie it works a bit better. But only a bit. Macy, however, was still great.

Cleveland Park