Monthly Archives: August 2010

Recommended Reading: THE CROSS OF REDEMPTION

THE CROSS OF REDEMPTION: UNCOLLECTED WRITINGS by James Baldwin, edited and with an introduction by Randall Kenan, New York: Pant6heon Books, 2010, 307 pp.

I’ve only barely started to familiarize myself with this collection, but it’s already become apparent that this is far cry from what’s commonly known as “scraping the bottom of the barrel”. Indeed, as with James Agee’s collected non-fiction, one is discovering that the Library of America’s efforts at canonizing cantankerous eloquence is, let us say, a bit under-researched, to say the least (unless the problems are simply those of taste). Baldwin’s review for the Village Voice of Seymour Krim’s first collection of essays, the first thing I read here, is plainly superior to some of the things that went into the Library of America’s selection (and, as I’ve argued elsewhere, what I regard as the strongest essay Agee ever wrote, “America, Look at Your Shame!”, even if it was never published during Agee’s lifetime, is criminally omitted from both of LOA’s two Agee volumes).

I’ve encountered some other treasures in The Cross of Redemption, even at this preliminary stage, but let me zero in here on a single prophetic statement contained in  the first paragraph of a 1961 Baldwin lecture that Kenan quotes from in his Introduction:

Bobby Kennedy recently made me the soul-stirring promise that one day — thirty years, if I’m lucky — I can be President too.Read more »

LA NUIT DU CARREFOUR: At Long Last Available

LanUitduCarrefour

Unavailable just about everywhere — except for on a SECAM French video that is now so scarce it sells for 100 Euros on French Amazon — Renoir’s gorgeous, sexy, and scandalously neglected second sound feature, a Simenon adaptation with Pierre Renoir as Maigret that is arguably the first film noir ever made anywhere, has finally made it onto DVD, with English subtitles no less, and available here. Thanks to Connor Kilpatrick for making me aware of this. (For a paragraph about this movie that I once wrote for DVD Beaver, go here and page down.)

Perhaps the biggest revelation of this film (and there are quite a few) is the young femme fatale lead, Winna Winfried, who according to Renoir was only 17 when she made it, her film debut. Her other film appearances were so few and far between that I’ve never met anyone who has ever mentioned seeing any of them. [8/24/10]

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