Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, January 20, 2012

Due to a nasty cold, it may be a day or so before I get the SUMMING UP, up.

My review of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO appears in Crimespree Cinema.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCann series of mysteries. You can find him here.

The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris

Ed here: I'm going through some health problems which is why I haven't been posting the last few nights. I'm feeling better but the issues haven't been resolved as yet.

Forgotten Books: The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris

There was a time in my life, college age and maybe a decade after, when I took Andrews Sarris' opinions of American films and American filmmakers pretty much as gospel. Times and people change. I bought a copy in a dime bin and looked through it and realized that it is in fact a rather pedantic and downright goofy survey of American films.

Sarris sensibly enough divides his opinions into chapters with headings such as Pantheon Directors, The Far Side of Paradise and Less Than Meets The Eye and so on. Hard to disagree with his Pantheon which includes Keaton, Chaplin, Ford, Ophuls and so on. With one exception that is. He includes Fritz Lang in the Pantheon and then in Less Than Meets The Eye dumps on Billy Wilder. What? There are few directors who have captured their AMERICAN time better than Wilder. The Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Ace In The Hole, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot,The Apartment...I take nothing away from Lang, though his self-mythologizing got tiresome. He is certainly a major director. But as far as serious accomplishments go...Lang but not Wilder in this so-called Pantheon?

He also dumps on, among others, Robert Aldrich, Robert Wise, Nicholas Ray, Preston Sturges and Anthony Mann--good sometimes but not good enough for the Pantheon. Really? Preston Sturges not as "good" as Ernest Lubitsch? Not even Sturges would have claimed he was. And Wilder doesn't belong even on this list?

Sarris is at his most readable when he deals with directors he considers sub-human. Peckinpah, Roger Corman, Curtis Harrington and Ida Lupino. He has cordial fun with them and sees merit in their assumed irrelevance.

But unfortunately then it's back to the pot shots. Under the Heading "Strained Seriousness" we have...Stanley Kubrick? Really Stanley Kubrick?

Be warned: You'll neeed a lot of Prozac for this one. And your dental bill will shoot up because of all your teeth gnashing.'

In 1985, Ruth Rendell was nominated twice for best novel of the year by the MWA. The Edgar went to THE SUSPECT by L.R. Wright, but the two Rendell books must be a record. Was anyone else every nominated twice for best book in the same year? The two books were AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS and THE TREE OF HANDS. In those days, I read every Rendell as it came out (library copies though).

In THE TREE OF HANDS, a young, divorced mother loses her two-year old child to a sudden illness. Her mother, a victim of some sort of mental illness, finds a replacement: a child abused by his own mother. At first, the young mother thinks the child must be returned but when she finds burns and other signs of abuse, she goes along with it and bonds with the child. This is page turner by any standard. Rendell was so brilliant, especially early on and especially with her standalones.

Sergei Angellini
Yvette Banek
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Cullen Gallagher
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
George Kelley
Margot Kinberg
Rob Kitchin
K.A. Laity
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis
Todd Mason
J.F. Norris
Eric Peterson
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Richard Robinson
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang


Kevin R. Tipple said...

Get well!

Anonymous said...

Pretty good list this week! Thanks as always for doing all the work this entails.

Todd Mason said...

Indeed, feel better, soonly.

K. A. Laity said...

I did a FFB then forgot to drop by and say so. Then again, I've been convinced half the time today that it's Saturday. >_<

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.