(Masterpieces of American Literature)

“To the Film Industry in Crisis” is a love letter from O’Hara to the most popular and accessible of the arts: motion pictures. The poem begins by excluding serious and pompous arts such as “experimental theatre” and “Grand Opera.” The speaker rejects also “lean quarterlies and swarthy periodicals,” because they, too, are for the elite, not the masses. The speaker does not merely approve of the “Motion Picture Industry” but declares his love and devotion to it. The title’s emphasis on Hollywood as an industry effectively distinguishes the filmmaking world from the realm of art by defining it as a factory producing for the masses.

The second verse paragraph places O’Hara’s preferences in a context. “In time of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love./ And give credit where it’s due.” O’Hara never makes clear what the “crisis” is, and the reference seems to be used as a comical provocation to inflate the reader’s response to the subject.

The speaker rejects a few more candidates for his affection, such as the Catholic Church and the American Legion, and finally begins to discuss his true love: “glorious Silver Screen, tragic Technicolor, amorous Cinemascope,/ stretching Vistavision and startling Stereophonic Sound, with all/ your heavenly dimensions and reverberations and iconoclasms!” The technical innovations of the “industry” are greeted with the same hyperbole that went into...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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Breslin, James E. B. “Frank O’Hara.” In From Modern to Contemporary: American Poetry, 1945-1965. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Feldman, Alan. Frank O’Hara. Boston: Twayne, 1979.

Gooch, Brad. City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.

LeSueur, Joe. Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O’Hara. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.

Perloff, Marjorie. Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters. New York: George Braziller, 1977.

Smith, Hazel. Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O’Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press, 2000.

Vendler, Helen. “The Virtues of the Alterable.” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 1 (Fall/Winter, 1972): 5-20.

Ward, Geoff. Statutes of Liberty: The New York School of Poets. New York: Palgrave, 2001.