Pauline Kael opposed him – the two camps were known as the Sarristes and the Paulettes [89] He later wrote to Kael, commenting: "[Y]our thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that". [2] In 1948, Kael and the filmmaker James Broughton had a daughter, Gina, whom Kael would raise alone. Kael responded, "Tough shit, Bill," and her review was printed unchanged. [2] Kael dubbed the film "Slimelight" and began publishing film criticism regularly in magazines. She preferred to analyze films without thinking about the director's other works. [63] In the early 1980s, however, and largely in response to her review of the 1981 drama Rich and Famous, Kael faced notable accusations of homophobia. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused" reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. With a personal account, you can read up to 100 articles each month for free. She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence, The Loneliness of the Long Distanc… Her parents lost their farm when Kael was eight, and the family moved to San Francisco. Occasionally, she championed films that were considered critical failures, such as The Warriors and Last Tango in Paris. [65] Byron, who "hit the ceiling" after reading the review, was joined by The Celluloid Closet author Vito Russo, who argued that Kael equated promiscuity with homosexuality, "as though straight women have never been promiscuous or been given the permission to be promiscuous. "[65], In response to her review of Rich and Famous, several critics reappraised Kael's earlier reviews of gay-themed films, including a wisecrack Kael made about the gay-themed The Children's Hour: "I always thought this was why lesbians needed sympathy—that there isn't much they can do. She also had a strong dislike for films that she felt were manipulative or appealed in superficial ways to conventional attitudes and feelings. [69][70], The quote quickly turned into an urban legend that Kael had instead stated something like "I can't believe Nixon won. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. Kael opposed privileging the director [72][73] The "I can't believe Nixon won" quote also was sometimes attributed to other liberal female writers, including Katharine Graham, Susan Sontag, and Joan Didion,[74] and was sometimes said to have instead been stated after Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984. Among her more popular essays were a damning 1973 review of Norman Mailer's semi-fictional Marilyn: a Biography (an account of Marilyn Monroe's life);[26] an incisive 1975 look at Cary Grant's career;[27] and "Raising Kane" (1971), a book-length essay on the authorship of the film Citizen Kane that was the longest piece of sustained writing she had yet done. Three years later, Kael returned to Berkeley and "led a bohemian life," writing plays, and working in experimental film. "[42] Although Kael refused to respond, Adler's review became known as "the most sensational attempt on Kael's reputation";[43] two decades later, Salon.com (ironically) referred to Adler's "worthless" denunciation of Kael as her "most famous single sentence. He is a good critic if he helps people understand more about the work than they could see for themselves; he is a great critic, if by his understanding and feeling for the work, by his passion, he can excite icrcles so that they want to experience more of the art that is there, waiting to be seized. Her fourth collection, Deeper into Movies (1973), won the U.S. National Book Award in the Arts and Letters category. You don't have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact de-sensitizing us. Movies. Pauline Kael (courtesy Quad Cinema) ... Auteur theory is an imperfect way of expressing the humanity of filmmaking. AUTEUR THEORY HATERS Why do some people hate auteurs? One of the largest, most distinguished, and innovative of the university presses today, its collection of print and online journals spans topics in the humanities and social sciences, with concentrations in sociology, musicology, history, religion, cultural and area studies, ornithology, law, and literature. A Couple of Squared Circles, Sarris and Kael – Part II. She tried and failed to work as a playwright in her 20s, and began writing film reviews as a freelance writer for film journals in the 1950s. "[9] Kael disparaged the supposed critic's ideal of objectivity, referring to it as "saphead objectivity,"[10] and incorporated aspects of autobiography into her criticism. Life, as Shoeshine demonstrates, is too complex for facile endings. (In a sense, Kael was right that its ways of doing so are restrictive.) [2], Initially, many considered her colloquial, brash writing style an odd fit with the sophisticated and genteel New Yorker. Many people are not fond of the reductionist qualities of the auteur definition, or any similar theories. If we don't use this critical freedom, we are implicitly saying that no brutality is too much for us—that only squares and people who believe in censorship are concerned with brutality. Read your article online and download the PDF from your email or your account. [45], In the early 1980s, Kael was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which has a cognitive component. She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence,[50] The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Lawrence of Arabia,[51] most experimental cinema[52] (calling it "a creature of publicity and mutual congratulations on artistry"), most student films ("freshmen compositions"),[53] It's a Wonderful Life, Shoah, Dances with Wolves[54] and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the last of which Kael dubbed a "monumentally unimaginative movie." T he best way to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Pauline Kael, one of the most influential film critics in the short history of cinema, is, of course, to read her work. Film Quarterly, published since 1958, provides readers with insightful analyses of film, the film industry, and international cinemas. "[13] She also wrote "pungent" capsule reviews of the films, which her patrons began collecting. I don't know anyone who voted for him. Kael had often reviewed Lucas's work without enthusiasm; in her own (negative) review of Willow, she described the character as an "hommage à moi". [46] At the time, Kael explained that she would still write essays for The New Yorker, along with "some reflections and other pieces of writing about movies.”[46] Over the next 10 years, however, she published no new work save for an introduction to her 1994 compendium, For Keeps. … Kael sums up her criticism by wondering why the auteur theory prefers certain commerical films — a saving grace of the auteur theory some will say. By 1968, Time magazine was referring to her as "one of the country's top movie critics.”[24]. "[66] Similarly, her criticism of the 1961 British film Victim was that the film sought to treat gay people "with sympathy and respect—like Negroes and Jews." Pauline Kael's Criticism of the Auteur Theory Some people have been critical of Andrew Sarris’ essay, and also then reject the notion of filmmakers having the right to be called an Auteur. Kael's Main Argument [37] She fought with William Shawn to review the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, though she eventually relented. Check out using a credit card or bank account with. [18] William Shawn of The New Yorker obtained the piece and ran it in the New Yorker issue of October 21. The directors used to say they were showing us its real face and how ugly it was in order to sensitize us to its horrors. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused"[1] reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. Pauline Kael (/ k eɪ l /; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. The film also shows several of Kael's appearances on PBS, including one alongside Woody Allen. She has great passion, terrific wit, wonderful writing style, huge knowledge of film history, but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising. In "Raising Kane" (1971), an essay she wrote on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, she points out how the film made extensive use of the distinctive talents of co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and cinematographer Gregg Toland. Request Permissions. Menu. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused" reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. One of the main voices on the side of this argument was US film critic Pauline Kael. Asked in 1998 if she thought her criticism had affected the way films were made, Kael deflected the question, stating, "If I say yes, I'm an egotist, and if I say no, I've wasted my life". ... Later I learned that the man with whom I had quarreled had gone the same night and had also emerged in tears. Release Calendar DVD & Blu-ray Releases Top Rated Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Showtimes & Tickets In Theaters Coming Soon Coming Soon Movie News India Movie Spotlight. Despite her initial dismissal of John Boorman's Point Blank (1967) for what she felt was its pointless brutality, she later acknowledged it was "intermittently dazzling" with "more energy and invention than Boorman seems to know what to do with ... one comes out exhilarated but bewildered". The originality of her opinions, as well as the forceful way in which she expressed them, won her ardent supporters as well as angry critics and fans.[55]. At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. This item is part of a JSTOR Collection. [31]:157–161[34][35], Woody Allen said of Kael, "She has everything that a great critic needs except judgment. Derek Malcolm, who worked for several decades as a film critic for The Guardian, claimed: "If a director was praised by Kael, he or she was generally allowed to work, since the money-men knew there would be similar approbation across a wide field of publications". PAULINE KAEL: TOP RATED FILMS. but due to the collaborative natu… Pauline Kael had an overwhelming presence in a conversation. The Controversy Behind Citizen Kane, Mank, and Pauline Kael One of the most argued points in film theory is the idea of auteurism, or that the director is the sole author of a film. Coinciding with a job at the high-circulation women's magazine McCall's, Kael (as Newsweek put it in a 1966 profile) "went mass.”[15], That same year, she wrote a blistering review of the phenomenally popular The Sound of Music in McCall's. Kael's reviews included a panning of West Side Story (1961) that drew harsh replies from the film's supporters; ecstatic reviews of Z and MASH that resulted in enormous boosts to those films' popularity; and enthusiastic appraisals of Brian De Palma's early films. Interior meaning is extrapolated from the tension between a … Kael had intended to go on to law school, but fell in with a group of artists[5] and moved to New York City with the poet Robert Horan. [11], Kael broadcast many of her early reviews on the alternative public radio station KPFA, in Berkeley, and gained further local profile as the manager, from 1955 to 1960, of the Berkeley Cinema-Guild and Studio. Interior meaning is extrapolated from the tension between a director's personality and his material." "[71] This misquote, which added an element of surprise on Kael's part, was over the next 40 years regularly cited by conservatives (such as Bernard Goldberg, in his 2001 book Bias) as an example of insularity among the liberal elite. [93], Author portrait of Kael from the dust jacket of, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, San Francisco International Film Festival, "Pauline Kael, Provocative and Widely Imitated New Yorker Film Critic, Dies at 82", "Cinema-Guild and Studio in Berkeley, CA", "All Hail Kael: A film series remembers the uncompromising, "Eighty-Five From the Archive: Pauline Kael", "The Frightening Power of "Bonnie and Clyde, "50 Years Later: How Bonnie and Clyde Violently Divided Film Critics", "Roaring at the Screen with Pauline Kael", "How Hollywood Seduced and Abandoned Critic Pauline Kael (Exclusive Book Excerpt)", "For Pauline Kael, Retirement as Critic Won't Be a Fade-Out", Cinema Scope|I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman's Antkind and I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Pauline Kael: Last Broadcast, KPFA and Report to the Subscriber by Trevor Thomas.-Internet Archive, Radical Light, Alternative Film in San Francisco Area - The New York Times, Film since World War Two – Pauline Kael 1968:Pacifica Radio Archives-Internet Archive, "Exit the hatchet woman: Why Pauline Kael was bad for world cinema", Pauline Kael's last broadcasts.-Internet Archive, A Survivor of Film Criticism’s Heroic Age, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: STANLEY STRANGELOVE – Review by Pauline Kael-Scraps from the Loft, "2 Critics Here Focus on Films As Language Conference Opens", "The Actual Pauline Kael Quote—Not As Bad, and Worse", "Changing the polarized electoral landscape", In Defense of Armond White|Features|Roger Ebert, "Pauletteburo? Pauline Kael argued that Orson Welles demonstrates the fallibility of the auteur theory,because screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz is just as responsible for Citizen Kane's brilliance as Welles . Andrew Sarris, a key proponent of the theory, debated it with Kael in the pages of The New Yorker and various film magazines. "[17], Her dismissal from McCall's led to a stint from 1966 to 1967 at The New Republic, whose editors continually altered Kael's writing without her permission. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused" reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. In a 1998 interview with Modern Maturity, she said she sometimes regretted not being able to review: "A few years ago when I saw Vanya on 42nd Street, I wanted to blow trumpets. Pauline Kael (/ k eɪ l /; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. [39] Several directors' careers were profoundly affected by her, most notably that of Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, who was accepted at UCLA Film School's graduate program upon Kael's recommendation. Access supplemental materials and multimedia. Published By: University of California Press, Read Online (Free) relies on page scans, which are not currently available to screen readers. [47], Though she published no new writing of her own, Kael was not averse to giving interviews, occasionally giving her opinion on new films and television shows. First remarked upon by Stuart Byron in The Village Voice, according to gay writer Craig Seligman the accusations eventually "took on a life of their own and did real damage to her reputation". Pauline Kael (/ k eɪ l /; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. And Sarris, as noted above, began backtracking and tinkering with his original conception almost from the beginning. She continued to publish collections of her writing with suggestive titles such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, When the Lights Go Down, and Taking It All In. A Couple of Squared Circles, Sarris and Kael – Part II – The Motley View. ... Film critic Pauline Kael on August 9, 1973. [90], In January 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore posted a recollection of Kael's response[91] to his documentary film Roger & Me (1989). With the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker narrating for Kael, the film is a portrait of the work of the film critic and her influence on the male-dominated worlds of cinema and film criticism. It’s all well and good bandying about slick terms like ‘auteur’ and ‘gang boss‘, but without knowing what we’re actually discussing, it’s all a bit pointless. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, "Well I don't see what was so special about that movie." Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. © 1963 University of California Press She and Sarris went back and forth over … There will no doubt be many discussions of Kael's work and influence and with the publication of Brian Kellow's new biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, and the Library of America's forthcoming collection of her work. [49] She was not especially cruel to some films that had been deplored by many critics—such as the 1972 Man of La Mancha, in which she praised Sophia Loren's performance. Referred to derisively as the "Paulettes," they came to dominate national film criticism in the 1990s. The piece quickly became infamous in literary circles[40] and was described by Time magazine as "the New York literary Mafia['s] bloodiest case of assault and battery in years. On 25 July 1982, at London’s National Film Theatre, Pauline Kael invited questions from the audience. The phrase that the French critics used for their idea was la politique des auteurs. [8] In a review of Vittorio De Sica's 1946 neorealist film Shoeshine that has been ranked among her most memorable,[11] Kael described seeing the film, ... after one of those terrible lovers' quarrels that leave one in a state of incomprehensible despair. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. With many artforms, this is relatively clear (though still debatable!) Moore claimed that, two weeks later, she wrote a nasty, mean review of my film in The New Yorker. I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine. Not before she poked some large holes in it. He referred to the “auteur theory,” as if it was something that could be proved. Kael remembered "getting a letter from an eminent New Yorker writer suggesting that I was trampling through the pages of the magazine with cowboy boots covered with dung.”[23] During her tenure at the New Yorker, she was able to take advantage of a forum that permitted her to write at length—and with minimal editorial interference—thereby achieving her greatest prominence. She was not especially cruel to some films that had been deplored by many critics—such as the 1972 Man of La Mancha, in which she praised Sophia Loren's performance. According to Stein, he fired her "months later, after she kept panning every commercial movie from Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago to The Pawnbroker and A Hard Day's Night. [48], Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. Professor Andrew Sarris: Film critic who played a leading role in promoting the ‘auteur’ theory. The distinguishable personality of the director as a criterion of value. AUTEUR THEORY HATERS Why do some people hate auteurs? [60], However, Kael responded negatively to some action films that she felt pushed what she described as "right wing" or "fascist" agendas. In 1953, the editor of City Lights magazine overheard Kael arguing about films in a coffeeshop with a friend and asked her to review Charlie Chaplin's Limelight. [39] Other than sporadic confrontations with Shawn, Kael said she spent most of her work time at home, writing. "[22] In 1968, Kael was asked by Shawn to join The New Yorker staff; she alternated as film critic every six months with Penelope Gilliatt until 1979, and became sole critic in 1980 after a year's leave of absence working in the film industry. But this would deny those of us who don't believe in censorship the use of the only counterbalance: the freedom of the press to say that there's anything conceivably damaging in these films—the freedom to analyze their implications. The auteur critic, according to Kael, prefers products made out of inferior products: Kael is asserting that the auteur theory venerates directors who repeat uninteresting squuares obvious devices. [38] According to Kael, after reading her negative review of Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands, Shawn said, "I guess you didn't know that Terry is like a son to me." ©2000-2021 ITHAKA. While this is still hotly debated today, it was just as controversial of a statement back when Citizen Kane was made. The auteur theory had detractors from the beginning. In addition to publishing its own journals, the division also provides traditional and digital publishing services to many client scholarly societies and associations. I had never experienced such a brazen, bald-faced barrage of disinformation. However, she panned Midnight Cowboy (1969), the X-rated antihero film that won an Oscar for Best Picture. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. Writing. `` “ auteur theory to the “ auteur theory went out of style in the July issue! Or “ author ” of a statement back when Citizen Kane was made critic Pauline Kael August. Are registered trademarks of ITHAKA to our terms and use, please refer to our terms and use please. Time at home, writing. ``, authorship seeks to find the true source “. 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Of the most influential American film critics of her work time at home, writing. `` films! Juggle writing with other work until she received an offer to publish a book of her era Sarris in Dark... Bitchiest queen in gay mythology, she championed films that she felt were manipulative or appealed superficial. Citizen Kane was made with many artforms, this is still hotly debated today it! The JSTOR logo, JPASS®, Artstor®, Reveal Digital™ and ITHAKA® registered... His original conception almost from the beginning, Pauline Kael was born in Petaluma,,... Diagnosed with Parkinson 's disease, which her patrons began collecting family moved to Francisco! Warriors and Last Tango in Paris panned Midnight Cowboy ( 1969 ), won the U.S. National book in., to have the Sound of a statement back when Citizen Kane was.. A strong dislike for films that were considered critical failures, such as the Sarristes and family!: film critic Pauline Kael led the charge against auteur theory, as! Most responsible for importing the auteur theory read up to 100 articles each month for.. Denied that in many cases directors provide the dominant vision in a conversation or they turn fools! Occasionally, she left a lasting impression on several prominent film critics of her criticism the 2019!