Monthly Archives: November 1977

THE MOST IMPORTANT AND MISAPPRECIATED AMERICAN FILMS (response to a mid-1970s survey)

From The most important and misappreciated American films since the beginning of the cinema, a coffee-table-size book of 150 pages published by the Royal Film Archive of Belgium in 1977. Two or three years earlier, when I was living and working in London, the great Jacques Ledoux (1921-1988) — whom I’d met back in 1968 when I first traveled to Brussels, to look at several of Murnau’s earliest films at his Cinematheque –- stopped by my office at Monthly Film Bulletin to ask me to participate in his eccentric but fascinating survey, which polled 203 participants around the world and then tabulated and cross-referenced the results in a number of ways.

By “misappreciated,” I’m sure that what was meant was “underrated”. I find that I still agree to a surprising degree with many of my judgments in the mid-70s –- including even my belief that Hollywood at the time was going through one of its more meager periods (even though Pauline Kael and many of her disciples seemed to think, and some of them apparently still think, that this was the richest period Hollywood has ever had in its entire history).

I made a point of mentioning Michael Snow at the end of my comments because I knew in advance that some European respondents would list him despite the fact that he is Canadian, not “American” (except in the “North American” sense).Read more »

À la recherche de Luc Moullet: 25 Propositions

I recently had to retype this longish position paper  — published in the November-December 1977 issue of Film Comment and never reprinted until now — in order to digitize it for the manuscript of my forthcoming collection, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2010.  Going over every word of it again made me painfully aware of how many typos and other errors it had in its previous appearance. [8/14 postscript: My deepest thanks to Andy Rector at Kino Slang for adding the grubby still that originally ran with this article in Film Comment, thereby allowing me to add it here myself.]

This essay has a literal sequel, “Moullet retrouvé.” that will also be posted on this site in a couple of weeks.  –J.R.

À la recherche de Luc Moullet: 25 Propositions

1. “Every film by Gerd Oswald deserves a long review.” — LM, 1958.

2. Many of you, perhaps most, have never heard of the man. So much the better. Not all news gets into newspapers, and not all movies get into theaters. The sculptor Paul Thek once proposed an interesting solution to the newspaper problem to me: Get rid of all of them, except for one edition of one daily paper (any would do), and pass this precious object from hand to hand for the next hundred years –- then the news might mean something.… Read more »