THE SERPENT'S EYE: SHAW AND THE CINEMA by Donald P. Costello

THE SERPENT'S EYE: SHAW AND THE CINEMA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Shaw, never one to be inarticulate or left off the record on any subject worthy of his attention, had an extensive and impassioned ""love affair"" with the cinema. His affection was, alas, not always reciprocated. In this book we view Shaw the propagandist rhapsodizing over the new medium-a ""much more momentous invention than printing"" and its obvious destiny-to promote ""the castigation by ridicule of current morality."" Unfortunately, Shaw was tongue-tied during the silent film era and watched balefully at ""all that cinematic power being employed for decidedly unshavian ends."" With the advent of the talkies Shaw came into his own and launched his attack on Hollywood. His film philosophy, besides the propaganda issue, was singularly distressing to movie-makers. He believed that film-making should be a constant striving toward the perfection of the theatre; in other words, anyone who wanted to film a Shaw play should do Just that--film a Shaw play. No ""wasting time showing gulls, cliffs and all that when you could be showing drama"" i.e. words. Years passed until Shaw finally got what he wanted--he personally supervised the filming of ""How She Lied to Her Husband,"" unanimously acclaimed the World's Biggest Flop. Undaunted, Shaw was finally persuaded into a partnership with Gabriel Pascal which brought about three movies after three years of momentous ego-clashing. Thanks to Pascal, the movies were not quite plays but not quite movies either. In this mixed medium we find a much more tempered Shaw. Shaw had begun to adapt to adaptation but he never fully succumbed and was never fully successful. This study contains his many statements, theories along with several scripts showing the transitions made from stage to screen and points up the distinct difference between the two media. It's a tongue-in-cheek dissection of Shaw as master movie maker and should be entertaining divertissement for the critic as well as his admirers.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1965
Publisher: Univ. of Notre Dame