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Film Criticism

Read any good books lately?

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moira finnie
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Film Criticism

Postby moira finnie » April 17th, 2007, 1:10 pm

A favorite book of film criticism, and one of the first I ever read, was Agee on Film by James Agee. Most of his contemporaneously written reviews cover studio films from the the '20s to the '40s, so this book is probably most interesting to anyone who loves classic movies. Agee was also blessed with a fine prose style, a good sense of humor and a sharp critical eye. Btw, Agee also helped to adapt C.S. Forester's story about The African Queen to film for John Huston, (though his contributions are sometimes disputed).

Another author who wrote about the movies that we love best in an interesting way was Graham Greene. Many of his reviews, (which were written in the '30s & '40s mostly), essays and other film related articles can be found in The Graham Greene Film Reader. Btw, Mr. Greene actually got into legal trouble with 20th Century Fox for the comments that he made about the preternaturally talented Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie. It all seems kind of silly now, but led to the closing of the British periodical Night and Day for which he wrote his reviews, along with The Spectator.

If you want a laugh, check out the movie reviews published in the New York Times by Bosley Crowther for about 25 years, from the 40s to the late '60s. Nine times out of ten, ol' Bosley got it wrong, predicting that Cleopatra (1962) would be a monument of classic cinema alongside Birth of a Nation, he hated The Seven Samurai (1954), & thought that Bonnie and Clyde(1967) would be a stinker. He even called poor old Godzilla (1953) "an incredibly awful film".

Here's a link to many of his reviews online at the NYTimes, (may require registration to view): ... _crowther/

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Film Criticism

Postby ken123 » April 18th, 2007, 10:42 am

I have just read Mr. Crowther's Review of Psycho. A very tame and lame review, but he didn't spoil it either. :wink:


Postby jdb1 » April 18th, 2007, 3:03 pm

I recommend digging up the works of S.J. Perelman (humorist and script writer for the Marx Bros), who wrote many a movie review from the 1930s on, most of them lots better than the films themselves. I'm not sure if these reviews were written for newspapers or magazines, or just standalone pieces. You can find them in Perelman collections. Very funny stuff.

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