AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM: From the Beginnings to Citizen Kane by Stanley & Bruce Henstell -- Eds. Kauffmann

AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM: From the Beginnings to Citizen Kane

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A substantial selection of film criticism -- from Edison's ""Projecting Kinetescope"" in 1896 (in color!) through Citizen Kane in 1941. Reading through one is impressed -- as was Kauffmann -- by how quickly this initially isolated reviewing art got off the ground. Whereas the Edison spectacular produced only amazement that it existed at all (""Then came into view two precious blonde young persons. . . . Their motions were clearly defined""), by 1910 a critic would write: ""People now move about after the style of human beings instead of jumping jacks."" And a year later a scenario writer articulated a complaint still heard today: ""The ingenious bit the author spent two hours on may be done to death in ten lines."" There are contemporary reviews of Sennett, Griffith (a fine collection which includes Broun on Intolerance: ""While. . . Babylon has fallen, Griffith has caught it on the first bounce""), Chaplin and other comedians, De Mille (Robert E. Sherwood in his notice on the Ten Commandments mentions each Commandment as ""swirling out of the heavens and hitting the spectator squarely between the eyes""), and other landmark cinematic contributions. In the '20's there was also an increasing interest in foreign films, particularly those of the German directors, and literary lights like Louise Bogan and Hilda Doolittle felt moved to evaluate the film as art. In the '30's sections there are some wide-ranging commentaries on a number of innovations and trends, Lincoln Kirstein, for example, ruminating on the Cagney image: ""No one expresses more clearly. . . the delights of violence, the overtones of semi-conscious sadism, the tendency toward destruction, toward anarchy which is the basis of American sex appeal."" The pieces are listed by film (not always of incontestable merit) and throughout there are general articles. A most vaulable addition to film history.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1972
Publisher: Liveright