In the introduction (which was reprinted in The New Yorker), Kael stated, in reference to her film criticism, "I'm frequently asked why I don't write my memoirs. The stage version was originally planned as a story about a Catholic boy falling in love with a Jewish girl. West Side Story doesn’t aim to communicate through such standard filmmaking techniques as story or plotting.The beats and emotions are all communicated through dancing and song.  Kael dubbed the film "Slimelight" and began publishing film criticism regularly in magazines. Dancers suffered from aching knees (this also afflicted the dancers in the orgy sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut), sore muscles and pneumonia. In his preface to a 1983 interview with Kael for the gay magazine Mandate, Sam Staggs wrote that "she has always carried on a love/hate affair with her gay legions. I Lost it at the Movies is vintage Kael on such classics of post-War cinema as On the Waterfront, Smiles of a Summer Night, West Side Story, The Seven Samurai, Lolita, Jules et Jim etc. ", In December 1972, a month after U.S. President Richard Nixon was reelected in a landslide victory, Kael gave a lecture at the Modern Language Association, during which she said, "I live in a rather special world. Kael had often reviewed Lucas's work without enthusiasm; in her own (negative) review of Willow, she described the character as an "hommage à moi". The likeness of Robbins to Kubrick is also appropriate. They are saying that everyone is brutal, and the heroes must be as brutal as the villains or they turn into fools. " Owen Gleiberman said she "was more than a great critic. For if people cannot feel Shoeshine, what can they feel? , Though she published no new writing of her own, Kael was not averse to giving interviews, occasionally giving her opinion on new films and television shows. Kael also wrote philosophical essays on movie-going, the modern Hollywood film industry, and what she perceived as the lack of courage on the part of audiences to explore lesser-known, more challenging movies (she rarely used the word "film" to describe films because she felt the word was too elitist). As Barrios writes, ‘both were driven men from the East, regarded as species of “genius,” being compelled to play Hollywood games of budget and schedules’. Though she might be loath to admit it, West Side Story was, in a way, the making of Pauline Kael’. (West Side Story. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Such comparisons with Spartacus are apt in more ways than one. McDonald, Dwight, On Movies , New Jersey, 1969. , The quote quickly turned into an urban legend that Kael had instead stated something like "I can't believe Nixon won. " Similarly, her criticism of the 1961 British film Victim was that the film sought to treat gay people "with sympathy and respect—like Negroes and Jews." But this would deny those of us who don't believe in censorship the use of the only counterbalance: the freedom of the press to say that there's anything conceivably damaging in these films—the freedom to analyze their implications. First remarked upon by Stuart Byron in The Village Voice, according to gay writer Craig Seligman the accusations eventually "took on a life of their own and did real damage to her reputation". Some of those considered for the role of Tony were Jewish. The earlier comparison to Spartacus was apt (for which Saul Bass also designed the title sequences). Where they are I don't know. Occasionally, she championed films that were considered critical failures, such as The Warriors and Last Tango in Paris. Production design was done by Boris Leven, costume design by Irene Sharaff, the titles by Saul Bass. ... Later I learned that the man with whom I had quarreled had gone the same night and had also emerged in tears. Yet our tears for each other, and for Shoeshine did not bring us together. In 1953, the editor of City Lights magazine overheard Kael arguing about films in a coffeeshop with a friend and asked her to review Charlie Chaplin's Limelight. : Fur flies over the Kael "kopy kats, "REVIEW: Running Time: 17,356,680 Minutes", "Pauline Kael, the Truth, and Nothing But ...", "20th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards", Film Hall of Fame: Support – Online Film & Television Association, Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael, Pauline Kael's Legacy Built By Straying From Herd-NPR article, Afterglow: A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pauline_Kael&oldid=997131030, 20th-century American non-fiction writers, Neurological disease deaths in the United States, University of California, Berkeley alumni, Wikipedia articles with BIBSYS identifiers, Wikipedia articles with CANTIC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with CINII identifiers, Wikipedia articles with PLWABN identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 2012: Posthumous induction into the OFTA Film Hall of Fame Behind the Scenes Film Criticism, Online Film & Television Association, This page was last edited on 30 December 2020, at 03:49. The originality of her opinions, as well as the forceful way in which she expressed them, won her ardent supporters as well as angry critics and fans.. Once your account is created, you'll be logged-in to this account. You don't have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact de-sensitizing us. I research, write and broadcast regularly (in Welsh and English) on transatlantic Jewish culture and history.  Kael further alleged that Orson Welles had actively schemed to deprive Mankiewicz of screen credit. I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine. Though she might be loath to admit it, West Side Story was, in a way, the making of Pauline Kael’. Pauline Kael (/keɪl/; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. Her 'preview' of Robert Altman's film Nashville (1975) appeared in print several months before the film was actually completed, in an attempt to prevent the studio from recutting the film and to catapult it to box-office success.  According to Kael, after reading her negative review of Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands, Shawn said, "I guess you didn't know that Terry is like a son to me." According to Stein, he fired her "months later, after she kept panning every commercial movie from Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago to The Pawnbroker and A Hard Day's Night. When you login first time using a Social Login button, we collect your account public profile information shared by Social Login provider, based on your privacy settings. Robert Wise co-directed it with Robbins. , Kael continued to juggle writing with other work until she received an offer to publish a book of her criticism. , In her review, Kael called the straight-themed Rich and Famous "more like a homosexual fantasy," saying that one female character's "affairs, with their masochistic overtones, are creepy, because they don't seem like what a woman would get into". The shofar, a hollow ram’s horn, is one of the world’s most ancient instruments, and is still played today in Jewish religious ceremonies during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. By 1968, Time magazine was referring to her as "one of the country's top movie critics.”. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra is put together of the stuff of legend that the director experienced as personal reality, and he filmed the story as if he had been there. Kael's reviews included a panning of West Side Story (1961) that drew harsh replies from the film's supporters; ecstatic reviews of Z and MASH that resulted in enormous boosts to those films' popularity; and enthusiastic appraisals of Brian De Palma's early films. Underpinning the Roman epic was an individual who had refused to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who penned the script Spartacus under the pseudonym Sam Jackson. , Kael had a taste for antihero films that violated taboos involving sex and violence; this reportedly alienated some of her readers. , Upon the release of Kael's 1980 collection When the Lights Go Down, her New Yorker colleague Renata Adler published an 8,000-word review in The New York Review of Books that dismissed the book as "jarringly, piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless.  Wes Anderson recounted his efforts to screen his film Rushmore for Kael in a 1999 The New York Times article titled "My Private Screening With Pauline Kael". He said his fear was motivated less than being exposed as an ex-Communist than as being outted as gay. Kael was an opponent of the auteur theory, criticizing it both in her reviews and in interviews. She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence, The Loneliness of the Long Distanc… An article on the lecture in The New York Times included this quote. I can't help but think that Vito Russo and other critics were show-tune queens who got pissed off because Pauline ripped the godawful "West Side Story" a new one.  She was not especially cruel to some films that had been deplored by many critics—such as the 1972 Man of La Mancha, in which she praised Sophia Loren's performance. :494 Welles considered suing Kael for libel. I don't know anyone who voted for him. His fellow astronaut Gary Lockwood (also not Jewish) was felt to be too inexperienced. ", Her dismissal from McCall's led to a stint from 1966 to 1967 at The New Republic, whose editors continually altered Kael's writing without her permission. , She was an enthusiastic, if occasionally ambivalent, supporter of Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill's early work, both of whom specialized in violent action dramas. Kael responded, "Tough shit, Bill," and her review was printed unchanged. Among her more popular essays were a damning 1973 review of Norman Mailer's semi-fictional Marilyn: a Biography (an account of Marilyn Monroe's life); an incisive 1975 look at Cary Grant's career; and "Raising Kane" (1971), a book-length essay on the authorship of the film Citizen Kane that was the longest piece of sustained writing she had yet done. In 1970, Kael received a George Polk Award for her work as a critic at the New Yorker. And I don't mean that facetiously. " In an otherwise extremely positive critique of Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, Kael concluded that the controversial director had made "the first American film that is a fascist work of art". His parents were both of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) descent. Diverging from mainstream tastes, she would pan popularly acclaimed films such as The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia and West Side Story, thereby enraging high … Working for Robbins was, by all accounts, a sadistic experience. Keir Dullea (not Jewish), who later starred in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, might have he been chosen had he not refused to get his longish hair cut. ... like the bitchiest queen in gay mythology, she has a sharp remark about everything". The movie’s release also had Jewish connections. She was not especially cruel to some films that had been deplored by many critics—such as the 1972 Man of La Mancha, in which she praised Sophia Loren's performance. " She also wrote "pungent" capsule reviews of the films, which her patrons began collecting. Given these deep Jewish roots, it is only appropriate that West Side Story is being remade by Steven Spielberg for release in late 2021. Pauline Kael showed us how to talk about popular art and fall in love with movies. , She left a lasting impression on several prominent film critics. I wanted the sentences to breathe, to have the sound of a human voice. Your trumpets are gone once you've quit.” She died in 2001 at her home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, from Parkinson's, aged 82.  Byron, who "hit the ceiling" after reading the review, was joined by The Celluloid Closet author Vito Russo, who argued that Kael equated promiscuity with homosexuality, "as though straight women have never been promiscuous or been given the permission to be promiscuous. , Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. https://www.amazon.com/Lost-at-Movies-Pauline-Kael/dp/0714529753 Kirk Douglas (producer of and lead in Spartacus) was one of the Jewish stars in attendance. (West Side Story. Would love your thoughts, please comment. '" Kael herself rejected the accusations as "craziness," adding, "I don't see how anybody who took the trouble to check out what I've actually written about movies with homosexual elements in them could believe that stuff. The person who got the role was Richard Beymer who had earlier appeared as Peter van Daan in the The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959. , In January 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore posted a recollection of Kael's response to his documentary film Roger & Me (1989). Rita Moreno (Anita) later played a Jewish mother in the sitcom Happily Divorced (2011-2013). Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961), big-budget Oscar bait extravaganzas that other critics fawned over.  Other than sporadic confrontations with Shawn, Kael said she spent most of her work time at home, writing. At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. Similarly, in the tentatively titled East Side Story, the original idea was to update Romeo and Juliet but with feuding Jews (Emeralds) and Irish Catholics (Jets) living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Passover/Easter. But, of course, she wasn't writing comedy. Like most of those who end up embodying a particular establishment, Kael started out as an outsider. " Adler argued that Kael's post-1960s work contained "nothing certainly of intelligence or sensibility" and faulted her "quirks [and] mannerisms," including Kael's repeated use of the "bullying" imperative and rhetorical question. To find a movie title, click on a letter. With her it was all personal. " This misquote, which added an element of surprise on Kael's part, was over the next 40 years regularly cited by conservatives (such as Bernard Goldberg, in his 2001 book Bias) as an example of insularity among the liberal elite. He was dictatorial in style. Coinciding with a job at the high-circulation women's magazine McCall's, Kael (as Newsweek put it in a 1966 profile) "went mass.”, That same year, she wrote a blistering review of the phenomenally popular The Sound of Music in McCall's. She was a deadly serious historical revisionist.. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. Eliot Feld played Baby John and Martin Abrahams featured as a boy on a bicycle. Natalie Wood, who played the title role in Marjorie Morningstar in 1958, a movie about about a young Jewish girl coming of age in New York City in the 1950s, starred as Maria. Asked in 1998 if she thought her criticism had affected the way films were made, Kael deflected the question, stating, "If I say yes, I'm an egotist, and if I say no, I've wasted my life". Her parents lost their farm when Kael was eight, and the family moved to San Francisco.  The essay extended Kael's dispute of the auteur theory, arguing that Herman J. Mankiewicz, co-author of the screenplay, was virtually the sole author of the script and the film's actual guiding force. Critics who have acknowledged Kael's influence include, among many others, A. O. Scott of The New York Times, David Denby and Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, David Edelstein of New York Magazine, Greil Marcus, Elvis Mitchell, Michael Sragow, Armond White, and Stephanie Zacharek of Salon. As her condition worsened, she became increasingly depressed about the state of American films, along with feeling that "I had nothing new to say.” In a March 11, 1991, announcement which The New York Times referred to as "earth-shattering," Kael announced her retirement from reviewing films regularly.  She fought with William Shawn to review the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, though she eventually relented. Moore claimed that, two weeks later, she wrote a nasty, mean review of my film in The New Yorker. Roger Ebert argued in an obituary that Kael "had a more positive influence on the climate for film in America than any other single person over the last three decades." Leonard Bernstein composed the music and Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics. . Why Is There Resistance to A Working Definition of Antisemitism? I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, "Well I don't see what was so special about that movie." Kael's career is discussed at length in the documentary For the Love of Movies (2009) by critics whose careers she helped shape, such as Owen Gleiberman and Elvis Mitchell, as well as by those who fought with her, such as Andrew Sarris. Saul Chaplin was associate producer. By contrast, co-director of West Side Story, Jerome Robbins, had named names before the committee, resulting in the blacklisting of seven of his associates. Born in 1919, she was a San Francisco area native who ran a Berkeley repertory house in the later 1950s while raising a daughter as a single mother. However, she panned Midnight Cowboy (1969), the X-rated antihero film that won an Oscar for Best Picture. Real Soft (1975) Walter McDonald: Caliban in Blue (1976) Gloria Naylor: Cora Lee (1982) Dramatists Guild Landmark Symposium: West Side Story (1985) Frank Rich and Joseph Papp: The Shakespeare Marathon (1989) West Side Story (1961) Famously and scathingly panned by The New Yorker critic Pauline Kael, West Side Story has not only outdistanced her wrath, it transcends all criticism. —Kyoko in Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story. There are 2,846 in all, ranging from early silents to the early 1990s, when Kael retired.  Kael programmed the films at the two-screen facility, "unapologetically repeat[ing] her favorites until they also became audience favorites. If we don't use this critical freedom, we are implicitly saying that no brutality is too much for us—that only squares and people who believe in censorship are concerned with brutality. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. The Jets, the Sharks, and the making of a classic, Something’s Coming, Something Good, a history of ‘West Side Story, From Aliyah to ‘I’m A Celebrity’: Gwrych Castle’s Secret Jewish History. She was considered by many to be the most influential American film critic of the last 50 years. She continued to publish collections of her writing with suggestive titles such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, When the Lights Go Down, and Taking It All In. She preferred to analyze films without thinking about the director's other works. Review: Hamlet at St. Ann’s Warehouse Is a Triumph of Production Over Performance.  The "I can't believe Nixon won" quote also was sometimes attributed to other liberal female writers, including Katharine Graham, Susan Sontag, and Joan Didion, and was sometimes said to have instead been stated after Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984.  In the early 1980s, however, and largely in response to her review of the 1981 drama Rich and Famous, Kael faced notable accusations of homophobia.  Several directors' careers were profoundly affected by her, most notably that of Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, who was accepted at UCLA Film School's graduate program upon Kael's recommendation. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41362.I_Lost_it_at_the_Movies Their families violently pursue each other with a tragic ending. , As soon as she began writing for The New Yorker, Kael carried a great deal of influence among fellow critics. , Commissioned as an introduction to the shooting script in The Citizen Kane Book, "Raising Kane" was first printed in two consecutive issues of The New Yorker. , In her negative review of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), Kael explained how she felt some directors who used brutal imagery in their films were desensitizing audiences to violence:. Nathan Abrams reviews a new book about the classical musical, West Side Story. Moore wrote that Kael was incensed that she had to watch Roger & Me in a cinema (after Moore refused to send her a tape of the film for her to watch at home), and she resented Roger & Me winning Best Documentary at the 55th New York Film Critics Circle Awards. :157–161, Woody Allen said of Kael, "She has everything that a great critic needs except judgment. " Although according to legend this review led to her being fired from McCall's (and The New York Times printed as much in Kael's obituary), both Kael and the magazine's editor, Robert Stein, denied this. This is because, behind the legendary musical, lay a minyan of Jews. She labeled Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971), starring Clint Eastwood, a "right-wing fantasy" and "a remarkably single-minded attack on liberal values. It was OK with me that she didn't like the film, and it didn't bother me that she didn't like the point I was making, or even how I was making it. 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