By James Agee
James Agee delivered to endure all his ethical strength, slashing wit, and boundless interest within the feedback and journalism that demonstrated him as one of many commanding literary voices of the United States at mid-century. In 1944 W. H. Auden referred to as Agee's movie experiences for The state "the so much awesome common occasion in American journalism today." these columns, in addition to a lot of the motion picture feedback that Agee wrote for Time via lots of the Nineteen Forties, have been accumulated posthumously in Agee on movie: reports and reviews, definitely the main influential writings on movie through an American.
Whether reviewing a Judy Garland musical or a wartime documentary, assessing the influence of Italian neorealism or railing opposed to the compromises in a Hollywood version of Hemingway, Agee continuously wrote of flicks as a pervasive, profoundly major a part of glossy lifestyles, a brand new artwork whose classics (Chaplin, Dovzhenko, Vigo) he respected and whose betrayal within the pursuits of trade or propaganda he frequently deplored. If his common disappointments may be registered in acid tones, his enthusiasms have been expressed with passionate eloquence. This Library of the United States quantity vitamins the vintage items from Agee on movie with formerly uncollected writings on Ingrid Bergman, the Marx Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat, Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine, and a wealth of different cinematic topics.
Agee's personal paintings as a screenwriter is represented via his script for Charles Laughton's distinctive and haunting masterpiece of Southern gothic, The evening of the Hunter, tailored from the radical via Davis Grubb. This assortment additionally contains examples of Agee's masterfully probing reporting for Fortune-on matters as different because the Tennessee Valley Authority, advertisement orchids, and cockfighting-and a sampling of his literary studies, between them appreciations of William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, S. J. Perelman, and William Carlos Williams.
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The camera work varies between competence in the air and the gummiest sort of "Rembrandt" sentimen talities on the ground. A few all but annihilating cut-ins of actual combat adequately measure the best of the fiction, and my own uneasiness about it. Barring a few infallible bits of slap-stick and one or two Idtschy ingenuities with color, Saludos Amigos depresses me. Self-interested, belated ingratiation embarrasses me, and Dis ney's famous cuteness, however richly it may mirror national infantilism, is hard on my stomach.
COMEDY'S GREATEST ERA 33 he backs against the lip of the ventilator, jacknifes and falls in backward. Instantly the camera cuts back to the girl. A topper falls through the ceiling and lands tidily, right side up, on the plank beside her. Before she can look more than startled, its owner follows, head between his knees, crushes the topper, breaks the plank with the point of his spine and proceeds to the floor. The brealdng of the plank smacks Boy and Girl together. It is only fair to remember that the silent comedians would have as hard a time playing a talking scene as Hope has playing his visual ones, and that writing and directing are as account able for the failure as Hope himself.
Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt is a much better and more interesting picture, with some real attention to what places and people really look like, in Santa Rosa and in New Jersey, some very good (and some fussy) photography by Joseph Valentine, and some clever observation of rabbity white-collar life which, in spite of a specious sweetness, is the best since W. C. Fields's It's a Gift. The Commandos Strike at Dawn will remind you why John Farrow won the Critics' Award for direction with Wake Island.
Agee: Film Writing and Selected Journalism (Library of America) by James Agee