The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael: A Library of America Special Publication

The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael: A Library of America Special Publication

The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael: A Library of America Special Publication

The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael: A Library of America Special Publication

eBookA Special Publication of The Library of America (A Special Publication of The Library of America)


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A master film critic is at her witty, exhilarating, and opinionated best in this career-spanning collection featuring pieces on Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, and other modern movie classics

“Film criticism is exciting just because there is no formula to apply,” Pauline Kael once observed, “just because you must use everything you are and everything you know.” Between 1968 and 1991, as regular film reviewer for The New Yorker, Kael used those formidable tools to shape the tastes of a generation. She had a gift for capturing, with force and fluency, the essence of an actor’s gesture or the full implication of a cinematic image. Kael called movies “the most total and encompassing art form we have,” and her reviews became a platform for considering both film and the worlds it engages, crafting in the process a prose style of extraordinary wit, precision, and improvisatory grace.

Her ability to evoke the essence of a great artist—an Orson Welles or a Robert Altman—or to celebrate the way even seeming trash could tap deeply into our emotions was matched by her unwavering eye for the scams and self-deceptions of a corrupt movie industry. Here are her appraisals of era-defining films such as Breathless, Bonnie and Clyde, The Leopard, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris, Nashville, along with many others, some awaiting rediscovery—all providing the occasion for masterpieces of observation and insight, alive on every page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598531718
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 10/27/2011
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: eBook
Pages: 750
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Pauline Kael reached national attention in the 1960s, first in a brief stint as critic for The New Republic, finally as a longtime fixture at The New Yorker (1968-1991). She was considered by many to be the most influential American film critic of the last 50 years. She died in September of 2001.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Movies, the Desperate Art 1

From I Lost it at the Movies

The Glamour of Delinquency 25

The Golden Coach 40

Shoeshine 44

Breathless, and the Daisy Miller Doll 46

West Side Story 51

Lolita 58

Jules and Jim 64

Billy Budd 70

Yojimbo 75

Devi 80

Hud, Deep in the Divided Heart of Hollywood 90

From Kiss Kiss Baig Bang

Laurence Olivier as Othello 107

Marlon Brando: An American Hero 110

Movie Brutalists 118

Tourist in the City of Youth [Blow-Up] 127

Movies on Television 135

Orson Welles: There Ain't No Way [Falstaff / Chimes at Midnight] 146

Bonnie and Clyde 154

From Going Steady

Movies as Opera [China Is Near] 177

A Minority Movie [La Chinoise] 182

Faces 190

A Sign of Life [Shame] 194

Trash, Art, and the Movies 201

Saintliness [Simon of the Desert] 235

From Deeper into Movies

The Bottom of the Pit [Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid] 245

High School 251

Fellini's "Mondo Trasho" [Fellini Satyricon] 257

Notes on Heart and Mind 263

The Poetry of Images [The Conformist] 273

Pipe Dream [McCabe & Mrs. Miller] 279

Helen of Troy, Sexual Warrior [The Trojan Women] 284

Louis Malle's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog [Murmur of the Heart] 290

Urban Gothic [The French Connection] 296

The Fall and Rise of Vittorio De Sica [The Garden of the Finzi-Continis] 303

Stanley Strangelove [A Clockwork Orange] 310

Alchemy [The Godfather] 316

Collaboration and Resistance [The Sorrow and the Pity] 323

From Reeling

Tango [Last Tango in Paris] 331

Pop Versus Jazz [Lady Sings the Blues] 340

The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Book 347

Days and Nights in the Forest 353

A Rip-off with Genius [Marilyn] 358

After Innocence [The Last American Hero] 367

Everyday Inferno [Mean Streets] 376

Movieland-The Bums' Paradise [The Long Goodbye] 384

Moments of Truth [The Iceman Cometh] 393

Politics and Thrills 400

Survivor [Sleeper] 409

Killing Time [Magnum Force] 414

Cicely Tyson Goes to the Fountain [The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman] 420

The Used Madonna [The Mother and the Whore] 426

When the Saints Come Marching In [Lenny] 432

Fathers and Sons [The Godfather, Part II] 440

Beverly Hills as a Big Bed [Shampoo] 448

Coming: Nashville 456

From When the Lights Go Down

The Man from Dream City [Cary Grant] 465

All for Love [The Story of Adèle H.] 500

Walking into Your Childhood [The Magic Flute) 506

Notes on the Nihilist Poetry of Sam Peckinpah [The Killer Elite] 511

The Artist as a Young Comedian [Next Stop, Greenwich Village] 520

Underground Man [Taxi Driver] 525

Sparkle 530

Notes on Evolving Heroes, Morals, Audiences 533

Hot Air [Network] 545

Marguerite Duras [The Truck] 552

A Woman for All Seasons? [Julia] 557

Shivers [The Fury] 564

Fear of Movies 569

Bertrand Blier 586

The God-Bless-America Symphony [The Deer Hunter] 596

Pods [Invasion of the Body Snatchers] 606

From Taking It All In

Why Are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers 615

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 630

The Man Who Made Howard Hughes Sing [Melvin and Howard] 638

Used Cars 647

Religious Pulp, or The Incredible Hulk [Raging Bull] 652

Atlantic City 659

Hey, Torquemada [History of the World-Part I] 666

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Gadgeteer [Blow Out] 671

Pennies from Heaven 677

Shoot the Moon 684

Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip 691

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 695

Up the River [Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams] 700

Tootsie 708

Memory [The Night of the Shooting Stars] 713

From State of the Art

A Masterpiece [The Leopard] 723

The Perfectionist [Yentl] 730

Golden Kimonos [The Makioka Sisters] 737

From Hooked

Out There and In Here [Blue Velvet] 745

Irish Voices [The Dead] 753

The Lady From the Sea [High Tide] 758

From Movie Love

Unreal [Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown] 765

A Wounded Apparition [Casualties of War] 769

Satyr [My Left Foot] 779

The Grifters 783

Sources and Acknowledgments 787

Index 789

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