American Movie Critics (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In his introduction to American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents Until Now, Phillip Lopate praises film criticism as an art and states that he included writers who wrote “elegant, eloquent” prose. With the exception of Hugo Münsterberg’s oft-anthologized but turgid social science prose and Bell Hooks’s “cool” poststructuralist essay on Pulp Fiction (1994), he has succeeded. Lopate has not included essays containing the kind of jargon usually found in film schools and “academic” journals written by the few for the few either. It is an eminently readable collection of reviews and essays.
Lopate attempts “to uncover the narrative trajectory by which the field [film criticism] groped its way from the province of hobbyists and amateurs to become a legitimate profession.” The book, which is divided chronologically into four parts, begins with the silent era and the transition to sound, and the reviewers are, for the most part, amateurs whose expertise is in other fields. Poet Carl Sandburg reviewed movies for the Chicago Daily News in addition to his other work for the newspaper, and his reviews are little more than plot summaries and gushings about film stars. Vachel Lindsay, also an outstanding poet, offers more content and insight, particularly in his analysis of Douglas Fairbanks. H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), the third poet included, was a regular film reviewer, and her response to Carl Dreyer’s...
(The entire section is 1829 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The Atlantic Monthly 297, no. 2 (March, 2006): 113-116.
Cineaste 31, no. 4 (Fall, 2006): 89-90.
Film Comment 42, no. 2 (March/April, 2006): 76.
National Review 58, no. 12 (July 3, 2006): 52-53.
The New York Times 155 (June 4, 2006): 36-39.
Variety 403, no. 9 (July 24, 2006): 39.
(The entire section is 29 words.)