This is the first of all my Paris Journals for Film Comment, written for their Fall 1971 issue, and also the first piece I ever published in that magazine, when it was still a quarterly. This Journal is missing only its first section — a somewhat misinformed and misconstrued account of an ongoing feud at the time between Cahiers du Cinéma and Positif that I see little point in recycling now. (I’ve corrected a few errors here, but also left in a few others — such as the running time and title of OUT 1 — to preserve some period flavor.) I wound up writing this column for virtually every issue of the magazine, which soon afterwards became a bimonthly, for my remaining three years in Paris, then transformed it into a London Journal during my two and a half years in the U.K., and finally turned it into a column called “Moving” for a brief spell after I moved back to the United States in early 1977. (If memory serves, the last of the “Moving” columns became the prelude to my first book, Moving Places: A Life at the Movies, published by Harper & Row in 1980.) —J.R.… Read more »
Monthly Archives: September 1971
When I previously reprinted on this site my first Paris Journal for Film Comment, from their Fall 1971 issue, I omitted the entire opening section, largely because of its embarrassing misinformation (both naive and ill-informed) in detailing the background of the ongoing feud at the time between Cahiers du Cinéma and Positif. But for the sake of the historical record, I’ve decided to reprint it now, along with a lengthy letter from Positif’s editorial board and my reply to it two issues later. — J.R.
Of all the gang wars waged over the past thirteen years between Cahiers du Cinéma and Positif, the latest appears to be the most extensive and the least illuminating. When Truffaut ridiculed Positif for anti- intellectualism and self-serving vanity in 1958, Cahiers‘ orientation was Catholic-conservative while its leading rival was surrealist and leftist; the former enshrined Hollywood while the latter denigrated it as imperialist. When Positif launched a lengthy counter-offensive in 1962 (amply documented in Peter Graham’s anthology, The New Wave), the terms of the equation had already begun to shift: many Cahiers critics were already beginning to veer away from their backgrounds as they became filmmakers, and Positif was starting to develop a stable of its own Hollywood auteurs, like John Huston and Jerry Lewis.… Read more »