Helen Gardner was among the first actors to form a motion picture production company, the Helen Gardner Picture Players. In 1912, she released her version of the story of Cleopatra. According to Felicia Feaster’s article at TCM (which has broadcast a restoration), this was one of the first feature-length films made in the United States, and one of the first films shows presented in a roadshow format: “Prints of the film were sent to provincial theaters, opera houses or town halls along with an advance-man, a lecturer-projectionist and a manager…Considered by many to be the cinema’s first ‘vamp,’ Gardner was thus well equipped to play the notoriously seductive Cleopatra.”
We are witnessing a strange development in the history of publishing; even as the number of books published increases to unprecedented levels, it seems that book reviewers are on the decline. At her acceptance speech for the Roger Shattuck Prize in literary criticism, Ruth Franklin defends the necessity of critics—to writers and to our culture.
It’s obvious why the reviewer needs the novelist—not just any novelist, but a good novelist, even a great one, to challenge us to rise to his or her level. But the novelist also needs the reviewer: not just as a vehicle for advertisement, but as an enforcer of standards. If we speak only to praise—and my children can vouch that I’ve never been guilty of that—then praise itself becomes cheapened, and ultimately meaningless. Not all books are worth reading; some are dull, some are poorly written, and others can actually have a pernicious effect on our culture. It’s the task of the critic to champion books that deserve to be championed, and to take a stand against those that have the power to harm. And anyone who doesn’t believe that books have the power to harm is not taking them seriously enough.
[read “device” at dear navigator] [read the wigleaf 50]
The young inventor created a device that could predict the future within one tenth of a percent of accuracy.
“Device,” he said. “Tell me the winner of this Saturday’s football game with Tech.”
“State wins,” the device said. “A man will pour beer onto his jeans.”
He thought of his girlfriend. “Tell me, will I marry Anne?”
Things irrevocably lost continue to intrigue writers, artists, and, of course, cinephiles. One of the great “lost” works of the 20th century, Orson Welles’s original 1942 cut of The Magnificent Ambersons, adapted from Booth Tarkington’s novel, suffered the brutal indignity of studio reediting. However, Michael Koresky of Reverse Shot confronts the myth and examines how the architecture of genius can be discerned even when battered by censorship.
Yet for every ghastly change…there is another tampered-with scene that nevertheless plays superbly… most memorably, Major Amberson’s overwhelming exit, featuring his poetically rambling “we came out of the sun” monologue, delivered in close-up with the crackling flames from a fireplace reflecting on his face, made inadvertently haunting by an unauthorized abrupt fade out.
Read the entire article at Reverse Shot.