Film Writing and Selected Journalism (Library of America)

Overview

James Agee brought to bear all his moral energy, slashing wit, and boundless curiosity in the criticism and journalism that established him as one of the commanding literary voices of America at mid-century. In 1944 W. H. Auden called Agee's film reviews for The Nation "the most remarkable regular event in American journalism today." Those columns, along with much of the movie criticism that Agee wrote for Time through most of the 1940s, were collected posthumously in Agee on Film: Reviews and Comments, ...
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Overview

James Agee brought to bear all his moral energy, slashing wit, and boundless curiosity in the criticism and journalism that established him as one of the commanding literary voices of America at mid-century. In 1944 W. H. Auden called Agee's film reviews for The Nation "the most remarkable regular event in American journalism today." Those columns, along with much of the movie criticism that Agee wrote for Time through most of the 1940s, were collected posthumously in Agee on Film: Reviews and Comments, undoubtedly the most influential writings on film by an American.

Whether reviewing a Judy Garland musical or a wartime documentary, assessing the impact of Italian neorealism or railing against the compromises in a Hollywood adaptation of Hemingway, Agee always wrote of movies as a pervasive, profoundly significant part of modern life, a new art whose classics (Chaplin, Dovzhenko, Vigo) he revered and whose betrayal in the interests of commerce or propaganda he often deplored. If his frequent disappointments could be registered in acid tones, his enthusiasms were expressed with passionate eloquence. This Library of America volume supplements the classic pieces from Agee on Film with previously uncollected writings on Ingrid Bergman, the Marx Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat, Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine, and a wealth of other cinematic subjects.

Agee's own work as a screenwriter is represented by his script for Charles Laughton's unique and haunting masterpiece of Southern gothic, The Night of the Hunter, adapted from the novel by Davis Grubb. This collection also includes examples of Agee's masterfully probing reporting for Fortune—on subjects as diverse as the Tennessee Valley Authority, commercial orchids, and cockfighting—and a sampling of his literary reviews, among them appreciations of William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, S. J. Perelman, and William Carlos Williams.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his all-too-brief life, Agee (1909-55) produced acclaimed writings in fiction, journalism, and criticism; these two volumes, edited by Baltimore Sun film critic Sragow, offer a thorough representation of his literary output. Volume 1 opens with Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a portrayal of Alabama sharecroppers through Agee's poignant words and Walker Evans's haunting photographs. Next is a selection of Agee's fiction, most notably A Death in the Family, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel based on the author's Tennessee childhood, here newly corrected from original manuscripts. Volume 2 is a sumptuous gathering of film reviews originally published in the Nation and Time as well as some that have not appeared in previous collections. The range of these pieces is impressive, covering movies as varied as Lifeboat, The Song of Bernadette, and The Enchanted Cottage and focusing on every film personality imaginable; all of them bear the imprint of Agee's distinctive analytical and literary style. Additional works include the renowned essay on silent film comedy that appeared in Life, as well as literary reviews, reportage on subjects from orchids to cockfighting, and a screenplay for Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter. The accompanying notes and chronology are quite helpful, and more such enhancements would have been welcome. Academic libraries and large circulating collections would be wise to invest in these quality volumes.-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931082822
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 9/22/2005
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Pages: 748
  • Sales rank: 1,001,877
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Table of Contents

Agee on film : reviews and comments 1
Uncollected film writing 473
The night of the hunter 533
Selected journalism and book reviews
Tennessee Valley Authority 631
Cockfighting 647
The U.S. commercial orchid 658
Book reviews
After many a summer day dies the swan, Aldous Huxley 675
The hamlet, William Faulkner 677
In the money, Wlliam Carlos Williams 679
Ida, Gertrude Stein 680
Between the acts, Virginia Woolf 681
James Joyce, Harry Levin 683
Walt Whitman : poet of democracy, Hugh I'Anson Fausset 684
The dream department, S. J. Perelman 688
U.S. at war : "a soldier died today" 691
Victory : the peace 693
Europe : autumn story 695
The nation : democratic vistas 700
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