American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now (hardcover)
"With his deep knowledge of the medium, Phillip Lopate provides a tour of a century of film and the splendid writing it has inspired. Lopate, a gifted essayist, is an ideal guide to these riches."
The hardcover edition of this title is now out of print. A paperback edition is now available.
A provocative and dynamic force in American culture since the early twentieth century, movies have presented several generations of American writers with a new, fascinating, and challenging subject. How writers rose to the challenge, and in the process created an extraordinary body of workpassionate, contentious, restlessly curiousmakes for a dazzling and constantly entertaining volume. "I have focused," writes editor Phillip Lopate, "on film criticism as an art in itselfthe magnet for strong, elegant, eloquent, enjoyable writing."
American Movie Critics is an anthology of unparalleled scope that charts the rise of movies as art, industry, and mass entertainment. Beginning in the silent erawith poets Vachel Lindsay and Carl Sandburg hailing the new medium and Edmund Wilson paying tribute to Chaplin's Gold Rushthe collection traces the rapid evolution of the medium in an age of tumultuous political and social changes. Here are the great movie critics who forged a forceful vernacular idiom for talking about the new art: Otis Ferguson in the 1930s finding in James Cagney "the dignity of the genuine worn as easily as his skin"; James Agee in the 1940s on American war films and the advent of Italian neo-realism; Manny Farber, Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Molly Haskell, Vincent Canby, and others from what Lopate calls "the golden age of movie criticism" from the 1950s through the '70s, a period when enthusiasms ran high, and arguments over style and content often took on a larger-than-life quality. Here too are the finest film reviewers on the contemporary scene, including Richard Schickel, Roger Ebert, and Manohla Dargis.
Joining the full-time film writers are many distinguished American authors weighing in on a range of cinematic experiences, including Ralph Ellison, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, Brendan Gill, and John Ashbery. Together they define an often underappreciated genre of American writing, a tradition filled with the "energy, passion, and analytical juice" that for Lopate mark the best in movie criticism.
Phillip Lopate, editor, is an essayist, novelist, and poet, whose books include Bachelorhood; Against Joie de Vivre; Portrait of My Body; and Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan. He has edited The Art of the Personal Essay and, for The Library of America, Writing New York: A Literary Anthology. His selected film criticism appeared in Totally Tenderly Tragically, and he currently serves on the selection committee of the New York Film Festival.
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