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A year of JAMES AGEE


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There were a handful of influential film critics during the golden age of Hollywood. Bosley Crowther was one...but James Agee is a personal favorite of mine. His reviews were originally published in both Time and The Nation magazines between 1942 and 1948.


Many of his writings on film have been collected in two volumes. These are appropriately known as Agee on Film I and Agee on Film II. He covered all sorts of films, from the most well-known to the most obscure products of Hollywood. A lot of these titles are now available commercially, but there are those that still remain in the vaults or are known primarily overseas (Agee was a proponent of British cinema and Italian neorealism, especially).


During the upcoming year, I am going to excerpt parts of his film reviews. I will try to choose ones that coincide with airings on TCM and other cable channels, whenever possible. The reason I am doing this is because I think it's worthwhile to look at film reviews that were written during the time these classics were first released and not yet considered classics. Also, Agee is a real journalist and his style is much stronger than that of today's so-called critics and reviewers.


I am eager to get the ball rolling on this next week...stay tuned.

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I can now quote two lines which I snickered at and then, I blush to say, forgot. One, Miss Bergman's plea to her husband, takes the season's prize for exposition: "Oh, Victor, please don't go to the underground meeting tonight." The other, more tender, is Miss Bergman's too, just after she collapses on to a sofa with Humphrey Bogart: "From now on you'll have to do the thinking for both of us, dear."



CASABLANCA is still reverently spoken of as (1) fun, (2) a "real movie." I still think it is the year's clearest measure of how willingly people will deceive themselves.

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