"The Age of Movies"...does contain a plausible sampling of Kael's reviews, with the stress on the young directors she championed. But...Too many crucial pieces have been omitted...
The biggest loss is that there's nothing from Kael's most sustained work, "Raising Kane" (1971). This is a brief book on the making of "Citizen Kane" that provoked a hurricane of furious denunciations in the film-geek world—she was accused of deliberately suppressing evidence of Orson Welles's contribution to the screenplay as part of an invidious attack on his genius. The counterattacks now seem wildly overstated. Whether or not she got some of the specifics wrong, she was clearly right on her larger point, which is that Welles was at his best when he had strong collaborators. In fact, reread now, the book proves to be a subtle, searching and brilliant meditation on authorship and collaboration in old Hollywood. It should be regarded as one of the few genuine masterpieces of American movie writing—and maybe it would be if readers had an easier time getting hold of a copy.
But...No matter what was chosen or left out, even at 800 pages, the book feels skimpy. Kael's own best-of selection, "For Keeps" (1994), which "The Age of Movies" is largely drawn from, is more than 1,200 pages of microscopic type. (It feels both skimpy and crushingly overweight.) Kael needs to be read the way she wrote: in bulk with all her crotchets, perversities and forgotten controversies intact. Her 10 books of collected reviews can be seen as a single, grandly catch-all chronicle of movies and American pop culture over four decades and an equally exhaustive record of one writer's intensely rich interior life—a work comparable in size and importance to the long shelf of Edmund Wilson's books.
mteal wrote:There’s not much question that Richard Schickel is staunchly anti-Welles, probably in large part because of OW’s leftist politics. In his biography of . Rotten Tomatoes is today’s Pauline Kael.
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