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Let's talk about films Pauline Kael liked

What can it take, ten minutes?

by Anonymousreply 284July 7, 2024 7:35 PM

She liked a lot of movies. She’s remembered for some of her big pans, like The Sound of Music, but she really did love movies.

by Anonymousreply 1April 3, 2024 4:07 AM

Bonnie and Clyde, duh

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by Anonymousreply 2April 3, 2024 4:09 AM

Blue Velvet

by Anonymousreply 3April 3, 2024 4:09 AM

She loved a lot of films, and some of those movies haven’t aged all that well (Last Tango in Paris, a whole lot of De Palma).

She adored Nashville, His Girl Friday and The Lady Eve. As everyone should.

by Anonymousreply 4April 3, 2024 4:11 AM

She loved Godard's early run "Breathless," "Band of Outsiders," "Masculin Féminin," "La Chinoise," and "Week-End." She was a big fan of Satyajit Ray and adored Pedro Almodovar.

Interestingly, she was such a big fan of Sam Peckinpah but hated Clint Eastwood with a passion when both tackled similar themes in their films. Her books are still a joy to read twenty-plus years after her death, and her wit was first-rate.

by Anonymousreply 5April 3, 2024 4:14 AM


by Anonymousreply 6April 3, 2024 4:15 AM

Oh, and Brian DePalma could do no wrong in her eyes (she didn't like Scarface). Yet she wasn't fond of Hitchcock, DePalma's greatest influence.

by Anonymousreply 7April 3, 2024 4:17 AM

Dangerous Liaisons.

by Anonymousreply 8April 3, 2024 4:26 AM

Purple Rose of Cairo


Jules et Jim

King Kong (1976!)

by Anonymousreply 9April 3, 2024 4:32 AM

Music Box.

by Anonymousreply 10April 3, 2024 4:36 AM

Pauline Kael noted in her New Yorker review of An Unmarried Woman, “No other film has made such a sensitive, empathic case for a modern woman’s need to call her soul her own.”

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by Anonymousreply 11April 3, 2024 4:49 AM

Say Anything.

by Anonymousreply 12April 3, 2024 5:12 AM

She was one of the few who praised Faye Dunaway's work in "Mommie Dearest." And of course she raved over Barbra in "Funny Girl" and continued to like her work up until "Funny Lady."

by Anonymousreply 13April 3, 2024 7:23 AM

She loved Exorcist II: The Heretic!

by Anonymousreply 14April 3, 2024 7:33 AM

She somehow managed to love “Yentl.”

by Anonymousreply 15April 3, 2024 7:35 AM

I Spit On Your Grave

by Anonymousreply 16April 3, 2024 7:36 AM

She lurved "Last Tango in Paris" so much that her review is actually embarrassing to read now, especially the preposterous opening that seems to be declaring it the greatest movie of all time.

by Anonymousreply 17April 3, 2024 7:40 AM

“The Hour of the Star”

This is a great and very sad Brazilian movie.

by Anonymousreply 18April 3, 2024 7:43 AM

ET Godfather 1 & 2

by Anonymousreply 19April 3, 2024 10:46 AM

Lady Sings The Blues

The Story of Adele H.

by Anonymousreply 20April 3, 2024 10:57 AM

Don't Look Now

by Anonymousreply 21April 3, 2024 1:47 PM

She loved Paul Mazursky movies....Robert Atman movies (they could pretty much do no wrong).

She adored Robin Williams.

by Anonymousreply 22April 3, 2024 4:08 PM

She had a line in her review of ET that always suck with me:

"[Spielberg] may not be an artist, but he is a magician."

by Anonymousreply 23April 3, 2024 4:16 PM


by Anonymousreply 24April 3, 2024 4:32 PM

She loved anything with Stanwyck or Faye Dunaway's naked thighs.

by Anonymousreply 25April 3, 2024 4:33 PM

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being."

She loved it. I watched, declared it was one of the best movies I ever saw but, being a delicate soul, never watched it again.

by Anonymousreply 26April 3, 2024 4:34 PM

"The Accidental Tourist" (1988), if I remember correctly.

by Anonymousreply 27April 3, 2024 4:39 PM

I read she actually enjoyed “Hawaii” (1966), calling it an “anti-epic”

But many of here reviews from that era are unavailable.

by Anonymousreply 28April 3, 2024 9:08 PM

What was her opinion on Anthony Lane?

by Anonymousreply 29April 3, 2024 9:10 PM

I thought she was a little over the line by saying "A Serbian Film" would have been better if it had been filmed entirely in a maternity ward and orphanage.

by Anonymousreply 30April 3, 2024 9:11 PM

I hate Kale.

by Anonymousreply 31April 3, 2024 9:12 PM

LOL, R30.

Who are/were her fanboys?

by Anonymousreply 32April 3, 2024 9:12 PM

Speaking of Anthony Lane, I wondered why he hadn't been reviewing movies for The New Yorker lately. Apparently, Lane will no longer review films for The NYer but "will broaden his beat beyond film to write on a variety of subjects, including reported pieces and critical essays about the arts. Lane’s last movie column will be published in The New Yorker’s anniversary issue, however, his writing will continue to appear in the magazine," per The Hollywood Reporter on 1/30/24.

by Anonymousreply 33April 3, 2024 9:18 PM

R28 Hawaii is in her Kiss Kiss Bang Bang collection.

by Anonymousreply 34April 3, 2024 9:28 PM

She says it's a stinker by formal aesthetic standards but a surprisingly absorbing movie. just the same.

But on Julie Andrews - it isn't acting, it's condescension in the ladylike manner of Greer Garson.

by Anonymousreply 35April 3, 2024 9:33 PM

Richard Brody, the other film critic at The New Yorker, has tried for years to besmirch her legacy. Some of his criticism of her is accurate (especially that whole Raising Kane debacle). But it's like he's trying his best to erase that she not only put The New Yorker on the map as the premiere publication to find great film criticism but also discredit her entire legacy.

Plus, the way he raves on and on about anything by Jordan Peele, he's as equally embarrassing as her overheated praise of Last Tango in Paris.

by Anonymousreply 36April 3, 2024 9:39 PM

I discovered her when I was a schoolboy where I was ravenous to read anything on movies and found one of her collections at the library. OMG. After that I had to read everything by her. I wrote to her at the New Yorker and she graciously answered me and would send me each new book of hers that was released. I was devastated to learn she was retiring because of ill health.

by Anonymousreply 37April 3, 2024 9:43 PM

Her heroes:

Brian de Palma

Robert Altman

Barbara Stanwyck

Sam Peckinpah

Barbra Streisand (most of the time)

Greta Garbo (most of the time)

Marlene Dietrich

Marlon Brando (most of the time)

The Nicholas Brothers

Her figures of ridicule:

Kathryn Grayson

Don Ameche

Greer Garson

Stanley Kramer

José Iturbi

She loved earthiness and glamour (although that sounds paradoxical). She hated primness and pompousness.

by Anonymousreply 38April 3, 2024 10:27 PM

She was also a huge fan of Judy Davis.

by Anonymousreply 39April 3, 2024 10:33 PM

She was wrong on pretty much every point during her trashing of “A Room With A View.”

by Anonymousreply 40April 3, 2024 10:37 PM

I think but I'm not sure she liked Julie in TMM. But I also think she hated George Roy Hill. So she liked Hawaii with two huge strikes against it? Sadly the complete film is not to be found. The bluray is the cut version. Who knows if the complete version that opened roadshow even exists anymore.

She adored Oliver! which astounded everybody.

by Anonymousreply 41April 3, 2024 10:38 PM

She loved Singin in the Rain and Gene Kelly.

by Anonymousreply 42April 3, 2024 10:40 PM

She hated the most successful film of 1958 South Pacific and claimed she never met a person who liked it. Well somebody must have.

by Anonymousreply 43April 3, 2024 10:42 PM

I wouldn't dream of seeing most of the film she loved. When I went to things like Going Places I hated them. But I wouldn't miss any of her reviews. I always enjoyed reading whatever she had to say. She liked trash a lot. Her most famous feud was with Andrew Sarris. She thought the auteur theory was ridiculous.

'Who are/were her fanboys?'

The Paulettes

by Anonymousreply 44April 3, 2024 10:49 PM

[quote]She hated the most successful film of 1958 South Pacific and claimed she never met a person who liked it. Well somebody must have.

And they all voted for Nixon!

by Anonymousreply 45April 3, 2024 10:50 PM

She liked A Passage to India, but ridiculed Ryan’s Daughter and I believe Dr. Zhivago too to a certain extent

by Anonymousreply 46April 3, 2024 10:52 PM

The main reason to watch HAWAII is Max Von Sydow.

She gave a great review of one of my favorite films THE INNOCENTS, while many other critics were lukewarm, for reasons I can't fathom. So I give her points for that. She also loved Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA though not most of his films that followed.

by Anonymousreply 47April 3, 2024 10:53 PM

R38, she also loathed Joan Crawford. Then again, she shared that in common with her bete noire at the time, Bosley Crowther, at The New York Times.

by Anonymousreply 48April 3, 2024 11:32 PM

Fuck you, r41, for not typing out Thoroughly Modern Millie.

by Anonymousreply 49April 3, 2024 11:55 PM

He's a Thoroughly Modern Moron.

by Anonymousreply 50April 3, 2024 11:56 PM

Thoroughly Modern Millie US (1967): Musical/Comedy 138 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc Produced by Ross Hunter, this lavish, oversized musical spoof, set in the 20s, was directed in a desperately with-it style by George Roy Hill, and the players work so hard that one begins to suffer for them and, finally, to feel numb. The picture sank Mary Tyler Moore's screen career for a decade, and it certainly didn't help Julie Andrews (though she looks her best in the 20s clothes), James Fox, John Gavin, or a rather weary Beatrice Lillie. As for Carol Channing, who gets shot out of a cannon and, as usual, grins like an albino Louis Armstrong, she projects too big for even this elephantine movie. Screenplay by Richard Morris; cinematography by Russell Metty. Universal.

by Anonymousreply 51April 3, 2024 11:59 PM

48 Hours.

by Anonymousreply 52April 4, 2024 12:02 AM

Further to me at R37. My first edition of 5001 Nights at the Movies has the pages yellowed with time and the cover came off but it's still readable. And she autographed it for me.

by Anonymousreply 53April 4, 2024 12:05 AM

Uncommon Valor

Under Fire

by Anonymousreply 54April 4, 2024 9:11 PM

She loved Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense"

by Anonymousreply 55April 5, 2024 2:00 AM

For some reason I remember she wrote that Broken Arrow (1950) makes an excellent children's matinee movie. (She had run a small movie theater at one time.) Well, I guess times have changed. I can't imagine kids wanting to sit through that western today. And actually parts of it are violent.

by Anonymousreply 56April 5, 2024 2:36 AM


by Anonymousreply 57April 5, 2024 3:34 AM

And she liked Jessica Lange.

by Anonymousreply 58April 5, 2024 3:57 AM

I was surprised by how much she liked the movie of "Fiddler on the Roof."

by Anonymousreply 59April 5, 2024 4:25 AM

After Kael died David Denby said that they had a falling out over "Fiddler" because he didn't like it, and that they didn't reconcile until shortly before she died 30 years later. But that didn't stop him from being a dyed-in-the-wool Paulette for most of his career...

by Anonymousreply 60April 5, 2024 4:34 AM

The Sundowners (1960).

by Anonymousreply 61April 5, 2024 5:23 AM

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn.

by Anonymousreply 62April 5, 2024 6:26 AM

Her hatred of David Lean was disgusting. For that alone she was beneath contempt.

by Anonymousreply 63April 5, 2024 6:46 AM


by Anonymousreply 64April 5, 2024 6:57 AM

I will always love Anthony Lane for beginning his review of The Scarlet Letter with "What is the point of Demi Moore?"

And it’s bananas to remember that she starred in that movie!

by Anonymousreply 65April 5, 2024 10:33 AM

That two critics would have a falling out over something as minor as liking or not liking a movie boggles the mind. I imagine Kael couldn't abide any of her acolytes disagreeing with her, which is incredibly childish.

by Anonymousreply 66April 5, 2024 6:38 PM

She had a long-running feud with the Village Voice's Andrew Sarris. If I recall correctly, Sarris met her and she asked him if, since he lived with his mother, he was queer. It sounds like something she'd say (Sarris later married fellow critic Molly Haskell, btw).

Not that their feud was about this, but I remember Pauline not liking Irene Dunne and Sarris saying Irene Dunne could read the LA phone book and he'd love it.

by Anonymousreply 67April 5, 2024 6:44 PM

She called Don Ameche The Human Cipher.

by Anonymousreply 68April 5, 2024 6:45 PM

She was a cunt.

by Anonymousreply 69April 5, 2024 6:46 PM

She alternated weeks with Penelope Gilliatt as the two film critics at The New Yorker.

by Anonymousreply 70April 5, 2024 6:46 PM

The other thing that stands out in my memory is that Warren Beatty hired her to come to LA and work on films. But Pauline didn't last very long in that job.

by Anonymousreply 71April 5, 2024 6:50 PM

Robert Altman called her "the cunt who destroyed me.”

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by Anonymousreply 72April 5, 2024 6:51 PM

I wonder what happened between Kael and Altman. She was one of his biggest champions in the 70s. She even appeared on Dick Cavett's show to defend McCabe & Mrs. Miller, deriding her fellow critics for misunderstanding the film.

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by Anonymousreply 73April 5, 2024 7:21 PM

Her reviews of "A Wedding" (1978) and "Quintet" (1979) were so scathing Altman probably never forgot or forgave them...

by Anonymousreply 74April 5, 2024 7:28 PM

Fiddler On The Roof actually was a good movie.

by Anonymousreply 75April 5, 2024 8:29 PM

I used to read The New Yorker when I was in college, mainly for the movie reviews. I did wait for her reviews of current movies to come out. I didn't always like her but she was interesting and entertaining.

by Anonymousreply 76April 5, 2024 8:31 PM

R73 My God if you're going to be on network TV do you have to dress like an algebra teacher?

by Anonymousreply 77April 5, 2024 8:34 PM

Her last review was 33 years ago. I fucking forget.

by Anonymousreply 78April 5, 2024 8:36 PM

Rod Serling is also there on stage in the Kael interview. She says Louella Parsons is still alive. Cavett says she isn't. But Pauline is right. The interview was 1971 and Louella died in 1972.

by Anonymousreply 79April 5, 2024 8:40 PM

She wrote that A Raisin in the Sun proved that "a Negro family can be as dreary as a white family."

by Anonymousreply 80April 5, 2024 8:43 PM

Richard Brody, R36... Cannot abide him. His idea of a great movie is "Marnie."

by Anonymousreply 81April 5, 2024 9:36 PM

Well, she did lose much credibility after it was revealed she stole much of Raising Kane from a UCLA prof.

by Anonymousreply 82April 5, 2024 9:41 PM

In that Cavett interview when she mentions Planet of the Apes to Rod Serling he doesn't seem pleased.

by Anonymousreply 83April 5, 2024 9:47 PM

The New Zealand film Smash Palace.

by Anonymousreply 84April 5, 2024 9:53 PM

She seems embarrassed by her own review that Cavett reads aloud. She thought she was less brutal than that.

by Anonymousreply 85April 5, 2024 10:04 PM

The Right Stuff.

by Anonymousreply 86April 5, 2024 10:13 PM

Bad Day At Black Rock.

by Anonymousreply 87April 5, 2024 10:17 PM

Pauline Kael Film Review - The Band Wagon (1953) "The Comden and Green script isn't as consistently fresh as the one they did for Singin' in the Rain, but there have been few screen musicals as good as this one, starring those two great song-and-dance men Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan. Actually, Buchanan's dancing and his rosy-ripe way with his lines (satirical cant about the theatuh) have such style and flourish that he steals the picture. (His role is a spoof of Orson Welles.) The plot, about a movie star (Astaire) trying for a comeback on Broadway and falling in love with a ballerina (Cyd Charisse), is a relaxed excuse for a series of urbane revue numbers, which includes "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," "That's Entertainment," "Triplets" (featuring Astaire, Buchanan, and Nanette Fabray), and culminates in the "Girl Hunt" dance sequence - a parody of Mickey Spillane's bloody boudoir fiction, with Astaire as the detective and Charisse as the good-bad women in his life. When the bespangled Charisse wraps her phenomenal legs around Astaire, she can be forgiven everything, even her three minutes of "classical" ballet and the fact that she reads her lines as if she learned them phonetically. With Oscar Levant in one of his best movie roles (he and Fabray play at being Comden and Green) and James Mitchell. The black shoeshine dancer is Leroy Danels. Directed by Vincente Minnelli; the choreography is by Michael Kidd; the songs are by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The title and three of these songs are from a 1931 Broadway revue that starred Astaire and his sister Adele. Cyd Charisse's singing was dubbed by India Adams."

by Anonymousreply 88April 5, 2024 10:19 PM

She was friends with Woody Allen but he stopped talked to her after she panned Stardust Memories.

She was a real fan of Fosse but after he did Star 80, she said everything he did was trickery. No characters, no depth.

I remember her review of Sounder. She said Cicely Tyson's Rebecca was the screen's first great black heroine and her cry when she runs to greet her husband was something even the most fabled actresses might not have dared.

She was also a fan of Sally Field, early on. She said her performance in Sybil went so far beyond anything she was likely to see in the movies but then blasted her after her notorious "you like me" Oscar speech. Kael said that explained why she became such a limited actress. Because she wanted people to like her. She wasn't an actress to express herself or be an artist. It was to be liked.

In the Hollywood Reporter, she named three actresses she really liked. Annie Potts (pre Designing Women), Vonetta McGee and Blythe Danner, whom she loved.

by Anonymousreply 89April 5, 2024 10:28 PM

Pauline talking about Burt Reynolds.

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by Anonymousreply 90April 5, 2024 10:38 PM

[quote] In that Cavett interview when she mentions Planet of the Apes to Rod Serling he doesn't seem pleased.

He really didn't look too pleased when she dissed television dialogue as forgettable.

by Anonymousreply 91April 6, 2024 1:35 AM

Richard Pryor Live in Concert.

by Anonymousreply 92April 6, 2024 1:54 AM

Kael was the only movie reviewer I followed and continued to read. Her reviews were completely personal, and at their most successful were clear, understandable, and honest assessments that brought insights to the experience of watching the movies. I didn't necessarily agree, but I never could dismiss her views. They helped frame my own, the way talking with friends does after a view.

This isn't too say she lacked rigor. Her "critique this movie" approach spared readers the confusion of judging movies by other works of the director, actors, and writers. She liked who she liked and didn't like what she didn't like, but her mind was very focused on the experience of the moment.

At the worst the "personal response" source of her views included biases, crankiness, or impressions that left murkiness rather than clarity. These moments were rare. Critics whose work is based on more-organized aesthetic theories often lack the sense of revelation and sheer joy, informed by a deep knowledge. She had the passion, not of an auteur, but of a movie lover.

Now I don't bother with current reviews or reviewers, I just see the movies I decide to see based on who's doing them, who wrote them, who's in them and what the genres are. Standards for reviewers today have more-complex social media influences, click mania, political stances, fractured constituencies and reader/viewer segments, and socio-sexual and cultural issues tied to market research plop a different meaning than do Kael's or Woolcot's or Truffaut's criticism. It applies to all the popular arts, and what some people still call the fine arts.

by Anonymousreply 93April 6, 2024 8:48 PM

"Her reviews of "A Wedding" (1978) and "Quintet" (1979) were so scathing Altman probably never forgot or forgave them..."

In all fairness, Altman had a stream of crap films after THREE WOMEN. A WEDDING is pretty mediocre and QUINTET is unwatchable. Then the dull A PERFECT COUPLE and the disastrous HEALTH.

From there it was up and down with good work like SECRET HONOR, TANNER '88, VINCENT AND THEO, THE PLAYER, and the wonderful GOSFORD PARK, and lousy films like O.C. AND STIGGS, BEYOND THERAPY, READY TO WEAR and others.

I know many here love COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN, but it's a threadbare script only made watchable by the cast. I recall STREAMERS was pretty good, but I saw it so long ago and suspect it's pretty dated now.

by Anonymousreply 94April 6, 2024 9:03 PM

Kael liked the Jimmy Dean film.

by Anonymousreply 95April 6, 2024 9:19 PM

R94, do you recall which was the Altman movie set in Kansas City?

I went to see it with such anticipation. And found the dialogue pretty much impossible to understand. Acoustics or accent, I don’t know, but it was a struggle and ruined the experience.

by Anonymousreply 96April 6, 2024 9:50 PM

Is it Kansas City (1996)?

by Anonymousreply 97April 6, 2024 10:02 PM

Elmer Gantry (1960).

by Anonymousreply 98April 6, 2024 10:03 PM

It may have been Nashville (1975).

by Anonymousreply 99April 6, 2024 10:06 PM

I think she liked Julie in MP. She hated her in TSOM. And she did think she looked good in her flapper dresses in TMM.

by Anonymousreply 100April 6, 2024 10:16 PM

Gaslight (1944).

by Anonymousreply 101April 6, 2024 10:18 PM

I hated the film of Fiddler. Loved the Broadway musical. The movie took out all the color and joy. It looked like a washed out documentary on eastern Europeans at the end of the 19th century. With songs.

by Anonymousreply 102April 6, 2024 10:19 PM

What did PK think of JA in SOB?

by Anonymousreply 103April 6, 2024 10:20 PM

R2- She liked that movie.


A pretty people movie.

by Anonymousreply 104April 6, 2024 10:21 PM

She loathed West Side Story. I mean everything in it including the dancing and score.

by Anonymousreply 105April 6, 2024 10:22 PM

The Heartbreak Kid (1972).

by Anonymousreply 106April 6, 2024 10:22 PM

R96 and R97, yes, it's KANSAS CITY. And with lockjawed Jennifer Jason Leigh in the lead, it's no wonder the dialogue was hard to understand.

by Anonymousreply 107April 6, 2024 10:27 PM

A ye olde geocities website with short versions of her reviews (maybe from Talk of the Town section of the New Yorker?)

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 108April 6, 2024 10:31 PM

Holiday (1938).

by Anonymousreply 109April 7, 2024 12:14 AM

Watched an interview with her yesterday where she talked about Italian-American directors vs. WASP directors and Jewish directors, and the various (stereotypical) qualities of each ethnicity. It was very strange to hear that.

by Anonymousreply 110April 7, 2024 6:01 AM

Love at First Bite (1979).

by Anonymousreply 111April 7, 2024 6:25 AM

[quote]She loathed West Side Story. I mean everything in it including the dancing and score.

What did she think she was going to see - "The Warriors"?!

by Anonymousreply 112April 7, 2024 7:02 AM

What did Kael think of Pasolini? (I’m watching The Decameron right now and wonder what she thought of it. )

by Anonymousreply 113April 8, 2024 12:27 AM

Death on the Nile (1978).

by Anonymousreply 114April 8, 2024 12:32 AM

R112, ironically - or maybe not - she loved "The Warriors", which I also think is a great film.

by Anonymousreply 115April 8, 2024 1:02 AM

Cobra Woman (1944).

by Anonymousreply 116April 8, 2024 1:04 AM

R113, I don't think she was that fond of him. She was brief and dismissive of Teorema and The Gospel According to St. Matthew.

She was a much bigger fan of Bernardo Bertolucci.

by Anonymousreply 117April 8, 2024 6:30 AM

Are we still talking about her?

by Anonymousreply 118April 9, 2024 1:47 AM

More than we are talking about you, you braid-wearing bitch.

by Anonymousreply 119April 9, 2024 1:50 AM

Renata, who?

by Anonymousreply 120April 9, 2024 1:51 AM

Hear hear, R119.

For the one above who posted something about Altman calling her a cunt who destroyed him--he was at her memorial service and said he owed his career to her.

by Anonymousreply 121April 9, 2024 2:09 AM

R63, you don't have your facts straight. She appreciated several of Lean's classics, up until "Bridge on the River Kwai," and including his last film "A Passage To India," but she quite rightly dismissed his overblown, cornball romantic epics like "Doctor Zhivago" and "Ryan's Daughter."

by Anonymousreply 122April 9, 2024 2:17 AM

The Clock (1945).

by Anonymousreply 123April 9, 2024 3:16 AM

She annoyed me when she would say things like "Irene Dunne keeps doing something with her teeth that makes you want to slap her." Why couldn't Kael say "...makes me want to slap her"? She didn't speak for all mankind. Nothing made ME want to slap Irene Dunne. I didn't like that aspect of her writing style.

by Anonymousreply 124April 11, 2024 5:26 AM

I agree with her about Irene Dunne.

by Anonymousreply 125April 11, 2024 6:12 AM

That's not the point.

by Anonymousreply 126April 11, 2024 11:32 AM

I also agree with R125, and R126, the point was that she used the second person "you" as a style to include the reader in her opinion.

by Anonymousreply 127April 11, 2024 12:54 PM

I believe she was intentional when writing that way. She wanted to bring a non-academic, conversational approach to film criticism.

by Anonymousreply 128April 11, 2024 1:04 PM

It was absolutely intentional, R128, and very effective.

by Anonymousreply 129April 11, 2024 1:05 PM

To this day, I cherish the hatchet job Renata Adler did on Pauline in her review of Kael's book "When The Light Go Down". I'm not sure this level of viciousness has ever been matched. A sample:

[quote]Now, When the Lights Go Down, a collection of her reviews over the past five years, is out; and it is, to my surprise and without Kael- or Simon-like exaggeration, not simply, jarringly, piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless. It turns out to embody something appalling and widespread in the culture. Over the years, that is, Ms. Kael’s quirks, mannerisms, tactics, and excesses have not only taken over her work so thoroughly that hardly anything else, nothing certainly of intelligence or sensibility, remains; they have also proved contagious, so that the content and level of critical discussion, of movies but also of other forms, have been altered astonishingly for the worse. To the spectacle of the staff critic as celebrity in frenzy, about to “do” something “to” a text, Ms. Kael has added an entirely new style of ad hominem brutality and intimidation; the substance of her work has become little more than an attempt, with an odd variant of flak advertising copy, to coerce, actually to force numb acquiescence, in the laying down of a remarkably trivial and authoritarian party line.

by Anonymousreply 130April 11, 2024 1:26 PM

R130, first: Adler's attack was just that. It wasn't a sincere review of Kael's book, which had many wonderful reviews in it. Adler wanted Kael's job, period. And she took advantage of the fact that Kael was out in LA, on a leave of absence from The New Yorker. She was attempting to supplant her. Many people, including James Wolcott, defended Kael against Adler's onslaught. How wonderful for you that you so cherish a has-been, jealous writer like Adler (who hasn't written a book in decades) that you take the time to quote at dreary length from her. I will be succinct: William Shawn said Adler's stupid attack was "unfortunate" and that Kael's "work is its own defense," and all Pauline Kael bothered to say (to her credit): "I'm sorry that Ms. Adler doesn't respomnd to my writing. What else can I say?" A classy response in the face of a cheap, failed diatribe against her. Meanwhile, Kael has a volume of her work published by the Library of America. And where is your gray-braided heroine Adler these days?

by Anonymousreply 131April 11, 2024 1:36 PM

Be that as it may, R131, the passage quoted by R130 hits quite a few nails on the head where Pauline Kael's coercive and gratuitously violent writing style is concerned.

by Anonymousreply 132April 11, 2024 2:06 PM

Oh, spare me, R132. Obviously, her writing style drew a lot of people in who loved it and were very influenced by it.

by Anonymousreply 133April 11, 2024 2:15 PM

Below is Andrew Sarris writing about Pauline Kael. I'll double space between sentences to make it easier to read:

The original Sarris-Kael controversy was not so much over auteurs as over genres.

Miss Kael, in her misapplied feminist zeal, is attuned more to kiss-kiss than to bang-bang.

It is her misfortune (though not ours) that the American cinema has always been stronger in bang-bang than kiss-kiss.

Whereas Miss Kael believes that Barbra Streisand's cavortings in trashy musicals are worth thousands of words of gushingly Kaeleidoscopic prose, I believe that movies like Point Blank, Gunn, Madigan and Once Upon a Time in the West are infinitely more interesting than any of Barbra's barbarities.

And that is about all that can be said on the subject of the Me Jane, you Tarzan fulminations Miss Kael originally invoked to add a new dimension to her ad hominum arguments.

Unlike the great Garbo in Ninotchka, Miss K has always made too much of an issue of her womanhood.

Even so, I have no special quarrel with Miss K's obsessive concern with Miss Streisand.

Not that I have any desire to continue playing good old Charlie Brown to Miss K's Lucy, but I can't really discern any overriding moral issue involved in the conflicting tastes of two movie reviewers.

Besides, even Miss K's most fervent admirers do not hold her to the humdrum standards of coherence and consistency to which the rest of us are accountable.

Her critical apparatus has more in common with a wind machine than with a searchlight, and when all the papers and ticket stubs have stopped blowing around, it is difficult for the more orderly readers to find their bearings.

by Anonymousreply 134April 11, 2024 2:27 PM

Sarris was just annoyed with her because she attacked his auteur theory, and those silly comments reflect that.

by Anonymousreply 135April 11, 2024 2:32 PM

Sarris sounds like a knob.

by Anonymousreply 136April 11, 2024 4:18 PM

No wonder more people talk about Pauline Kael than Sarris, his writing style was so purple and he could never get to the fucking point.

by Anonymousreply 137April 11, 2024 4:25 PM

"Misapplied feminist zeal?"

"Barbra Streisand?"

Was Sarris unaware of Kael's support of Peckinpah and De Palma as well as films such as Jaws and Goddard's Weekend?

Fucking idiot.

by Anonymousreply 138April 11, 2024 4:32 PM

Andrew Sarris and Renata Adler were both worse AND less entertaining writers than Pauline Kael despite having more pedigreed and educated backgrounds. The fact this working class college dropout was able to be a more incisive and widely respected critic than them got under their skin.

She loved a wide range of films and had a taste that couldn't really easily be put in boxes, she had no problem with saying negative things about directors or actors she previously praised if she didn't like the film. Brian De Palma was probably her favorite director, I think the only movie she didn't really like by him was Body Double. My favorite review of her is the rave about Marguerite Duras' highbrow "Le Camion," can be found here alongside her nearly prophetic semi-pan of Star Wars!

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by Anonymousreply 139April 11, 2024 4:41 PM

R138 Was he wrong about the Streisand films?

I enjoyed reading Kael but I didn't like her. I liked Sarris.

by Anonymousreply 140April 11, 2024 4:43 PM

Kael was mean. John Simon was mean, but he made more sense.

I never liked De Palma's movies. Who even remembers them now?

by Anonymousreply 141April 11, 2024 4:45 PM

Yes, who even gives a shit about Carrie or Scarface anymore? R141

Or Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Mission Impossible, Sisters, The Fury...

by Anonymousreply 142April 11, 2024 4:47 PM

R142 I don't. Scarface was rightly criticized as shit when it came out - I don't know how it has even had a resurgence.

Yes, everyone is still watching and talking about Dressed to Kill. And that great, charismatic star, Keith Gordon.

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by Anonymousreply 143April 11, 2024 5:03 PM

John Simon was loathsomely mean. Kael seldom went after somebody on the basis of physical appearance.

De Palma is an icon to thriller and horror audiences. I have mixed feelings about him myself, but Keith Gordon was wonderful in Dressed to Kill along with the rest of the cast.

by Anonymousreply 144April 11, 2024 5:15 PM

R141/R143, just because you don't like DePalma doesn't mean his films aren't appreciated or remembered.

R139, I completely agree, especially about her review of the Duras film.

by Anonymousreply 145April 11, 2024 5:18 PM

She wasn’t someone who bought into the idea of auteur theory adjacent idea that just because a film is made by a certain director that it’s worthwhile.

Her takes on Bergman and Truffaut were examples of this. She LOVED certain films by both but didn’t feel they were above reproach because of their status.

by Anonymousreply 146April 11, 2024 5:22 PM

Kael did have some respected directors I don’t think she enjoyed a single film from - Fellini, Antonioni (this one is the oddest to me, not because I’m massive fan but because she enjoyed a number of Duras films and the writing of Samuel Beckett, both of which are in the same wheelhouse as him), Kubrick.

by Anonymousreply 147April 11, 2024 5:24 PM

R147, she liked Antonioni's L'Aventura.

by Anonymousreply 148April 11, 2024 5:30 PM

Funny Girl is trashy? Yeah Sarris really could fuck up. He preferred Pajama Game to My Fair Lady on stage. I enjoy both(not that I was alive to see the original stage productions) but let's face it MFL is in a whole other league. Kael was a lot more fun to read than Sarris who could put you to sleep.

Kael I don't think liked Lawrence of Arabia either. I like all three epics very much and the storm sequence in Ryan's Daughter is one of the most astonishing sequences ever put on film. And Lawrence is full of wonders. How lucky she was to have seen all three films when they opened in large theaters on large screens. And what did she call 2001? Something really awful. Like the most expensive amateur movie ever made? I'm so jealous she got to see it on the huge Cinerama screen at Loew's Capitol in New York.

She adored DW Griffith.

by Anonymousreply 149April 11, 2024 5:38 PM

[quote] Kael did have some respected directors I don’t think she enjoyed a single film from - Fellini,

She liked Fellini's I vitelloni, Nights of Cabiria, and The White Sheik.

by Anonymousreply 150April 11, 2024 5:43 PM

When Lawrence Of Arabia premiered in the US it was cut, and sometimes it didn't make a lot of sense.

I saw Ryan's Daughter on the big screen when it was new, I like David Lean but that film was not great.

by Anonymousreply 151April 11, 2024 6:54 PM

Sarris will be my hero for headlining his review of Streisand "A Bore is Starred."

And for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes being his favorite musical.

by Anonymousreply 152April 11, 2024 6:56 PM

R150 I’m mistaken then, but I do know she hated La Dolce Vita and hated everything he made afterwards.

by Anonymousreply 153April 11, 2024 7:03 PM

More Renata Adler:

Because what is most striking is that she has, over the years, lost any notion of the legitimate borders of polemic. Mistaking lack of civility for vitality, she now substitutes for argument a protracted, obsessional invective—what amounts to a staff cinema critics’ branch of est. Her favorite, most characteristic device of this kind is the ad personam physical (she might say, visceral) image: images, that is, of sexual conduct, deviance, impotence, masturbation; also of indigestion, elimination, excrement. I do not mean to imply that these images are frequent, or that one has to look for them. They are relentless, inexorable. “Swallowing this movie,” one finds on page 147, “is an unnatural act.” On page 151, “his way of pissing on us.” On page 153, “a little gas from undigested Antonioni.” On page 158, “these constipated flourishes.” On page 182, “as forlornly romantic as Cyrano’s plume dipped in horse manure.” On page 226, “the same brand of sanctifying horse manure.” On page 467, “a new brand of pop manure.” On page 120, “flatulent seriousness.” On page 226, “flatulent Biblical-folk John Ford film.” On page 353, “gaseous naïveté.” And elsewhere, everywhere, “flatulent,” “gaseous,” “gasbag,” “makes you feel a little queasy,” “makes you gag a little,” “just a belch from the Nixon era,” “you can’t cut through the crap in her,” “plastic turds.” Of an actress, “She’s making love to herself”; of a screenwriter, “He’s turned in on himself; he’s diddling his own talent.” “It’s tumescent filmmaking.” “Drama and politics don’t climax together.” Sometimes, one has the illusion that these oral, anal, or just physical epithets have some meaning—“Taxi Driver is a movie in heat,” for instance, or “the film is an icebag.” But then: “Coma is like a prophylactic.” One thinks, How, how is it like a prophylactic? “It’s so cleanly made.” Or a metaphor with a sadistic note which defies, precisely, physical comprehension. “The movie has had a spinal tap.”

by Anonymousreply 154April 11, 2024 7:48 PM


by Anonymousreply 155April 11, 2024 7:53 PM

Lawrence was cut after it premiered in the US. I mean it was a matter of days but when it had its US premiere at the Criterion theater it was the complete version. Why Lean cut it I have no idea. Too long? Maybe Kael didn't see it in like the first two days. Yet it still won the best picture Oscar when most people never saw it complete.

2001 had it's world premiere at the Uptown theater in DC. A couple of days later it had its NY premiere at Loew's Capitol. It was after the NY premiere Kubrick cut the film. As the rest of the prints had yet to be shipped out to the other cities they could be all cut as well.

by Anonymousreply 156April 11, 2024 7:55 PM

Key Largo (1948).

by Anonymousreply 157April 11, 2024 10:21 PM

Renata Adler was addicted to Another World. She raved about the storyline where Mac was being poisoned.

by Anonymousreply 158April 11, 2024 11:22 PM

Well then she cannot have been a serious critic!

by Anonymousreply 159April 11, 2024 11:32 PM

Pauline Kael thought Another World was like a man having a bowel movement while fornicating.

by Anonymousreply 160April 11, 2024 11:33 PM

That's called a "Blunphy", R160, only it's gotta be during a blowjob, not a fuck.

by Anonymousreply 161April 11, 2024 11:36 PM

Pauline might have loved Barbra but she didn’t shy away from clobbering A Star Is Born (and rightly so)

by Anonymousreply 162April 12, 2024 12:13 AM

She also clobbered her in Funny Lady.

by Anonymousreply 163April 12, 2024 12:27 AM

She wasn't that impressed by What's Up Doc either.

Did Sarris actually read Kael's reviews?

Adler was/still is a toxic cunt.

by Anonymousreply 164April 12, 2024 1:08 AM

[quote] She also clobbered her in Funny Lady.

Streisand called her up the day the review was printed to tell her she agreed with her.

by Anonymousreply 165April 12, 2024 1:12 AM

[quote] Adler was/still is a toxic cunt.

And a fucking has-been for four decades and counting.

by Anonymousreply 166April 12, 2024 1:13 AM

[quote] Kael did have some respected directors I don’t think she enjoyed a single film from - [...] Kubrick.

She loved "Lolita."

by Anonymousreply 167April 12, 2024 1:13 AM

R164 - the Sarris quote was from 1970.

by Anonymousreply 168April 12, 2024 1:14 AM

That's right, R165--she did!

by Anonymousreply 169April 12, 2024 1:14 AM

Up to 1970, Kael praised her in FG and Hello Dolly (though not the movies themselves), and loved her in The Owl and the Pussycat as well as the movie. I agree completely with this assessment.

Sarris just had his panties in a twist, knowing Kael was the more influential and popular as a critic.

by Anonymousreply 170April 12, 2024 1:16 AM

I hope Renata Adler is using her braid to snake out toilets at Grand Central.

I cannot stand that Mary Hartman-looking bitch.

by Anonymousreply 171April 12, 2024 1:18 AM

Kael's review of Antonioni's "L'avventura" is mostly positive--she thinks it's affected, but she also terms it "great."

by Anonymousreply 172April 12, 2024 1:18 AM

Adler I believe is the only one still alive from that era of movie critics. Unless you include Rex Reed who is still working as a critic. How does he afford living in the Dakota? Maybe he has family money. Texas Tea.

by Anonymousreply 173April 12, 2024 1:35 AM


by Anonymousreply 174April 12, 2024 1:39 AM

So shoot me I like all three of those early Streisand movies and in no way would I call them trashy. I wouldn't change a thing about Funny Girl. Hello Dolly has a couple of casting problems. And her singing in Clear Day which could have used anybody else other than Montand who has the fatal flaw of an accent so thick you cut a mature brie with it is at its peak. Sharif could have been cast with her again but Sinatra would have been perfect if they both weren't such egotistical monsters.

by Anonymousreply 175April 12, 2024 1:50 AM

R171 Your vitriol is most appreciated and wonderful.

by Anonymousreply 176April 12, 2024 1:53 AM

I concur with R176. R171, I couldn't agree with you more. I hate that fucking gash Adler.

by Anonymousreply 177April 12, 2024 2:04 AM

Ok, I have to back up a wee bit and say that some of Adler's political writing was useful and she knows how to construct a sentence. Her film reviews are complete opposite to Kale's but are fascinating. She's by no means stupid. And she looked great in the 70s.

That said, I can think of fewer intellectuals known mostly for hating, bashing and suing other intellectuals.

And her personality would take 120 years of rust off a cast iron stove.

by Anonymousreply 178April 12, 2024 2:14 AM

"Kael's", of course.

by Anonymousreply 179April 12, 2024 2:15 AM

The Stunt Man (1980)

by Anonymousreply 180April 12, 2024 10:18 AM

R170 Sarris never seemed to care about Kael's status vs. his. He seemed like the least egotistical of the film critics of the time.

by Anonymousreply 181April 12, 2024 3:25 PM

[quote] Sarris never seemed to care about Kael's status vs. his.

Oh, I think he very much did, R181.

by Anonymousreply 182April 12, 2024 4:59 PM

[quote] Sarris never seemed to care about Kael's status vs. his. He seemed like the least egotistical of the film critics of the time.

Not true. After Kael died, he wrote an article about her, stating that she made more money writing at The New Yorker than he did at The Village Voice. He also mentioned asking his students (he taught film at Columbia University) if they knew who she was, and after his students told him they didn't, he felt vindicated that he had won his feud with her and that her influence waned.

Little did he know that more people reference her today than her contemporaries from that era. There aren't any documentaries, biographies, etc., about Sarris. If anything, he's only mentioned whenever Kael is brought up. He very much cared about his status in comparison to hers.

by Anonymousreply 183April 12, 2024 8:15 PM

Sarris is included in the film critics documentary, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, as is Kael. He looks like death warmed up with dark circles under his eyes.

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by Anonymousreply 184April 12, 2024 8:19 PM

R183 Where is the article?

by Anonymousreply 185April 12, 2024 8:37 PM


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by Anonymousreply 186April 12, 2024 8:49 PM

R183, I find it impossible to believe that film students, especially at someplace like Columbia never heard of Pauline Kael.

by Anonymousreply 187April 12, 2024 9:36 PM

More Sarris on Kael from 1970, and once again I'm double spacing between the sentences as I did @ R134:

Miss K is more an entertainer than an enlightener, and she's singularly ungenerous (at least in print) to her colleagues.

She disdains the good manners (however teeth-clenched) of the scholarly community, and she scorns all the little film magazines that spawned her.

For all her professional feminism, she has not been conspicuously kind to the increasing number of distaff reviewers in the field.

Indeed, the increasingly perverse otherness of film criticism seems to cause her genuine distress despite all the success and recognition she has received.

Her toleration of dissent in comparable in degree to Spiro Agnew's, and her capacity to communicate with any critic she hasn't spiritually castrated is virtually nil.

Consequently, there is no point in arguing with Miss K; the most one can do is coexist in the same sphere of influence without succumbing to the Perils of Pauline, a tagline I invented seven years ago and still find timely.

by Anonymousreply 188April 12, 2024 9:42 PM

[quote] the most one can do is coexist in the same sphere of influence without succumbing to the Perils of Pauline, a tagline I invented seven years ago and still find timely.

That passage was much easier to read than others from Sarris. He was living proof that a good editor can make a difference for a fifth-rate writer. I find it funny that he spent so much time attacking her when Kael never mentioned him again in print after writing Circles and Squares and lambasting him and the auteur theory.

by Anonymousreply 189April 12, 2024 10:01 PM

Why do you need to double-space? Sarris is not difficult to read. Please stop wasting our time with this garbage.

by Anonymousreply 190April 12, 2024 10:16 PM

Sarris in the article just seems like someone (and he's not alone in this) who was perplexed by Pauline's attacks on him, which were at times rude and abusive in person). They didn't like each other, so I don't know what you expected him to say. He seems honest without being mean.

by Anonymousreply 191April 12, 2024 10:33 PM

Weren't you the one who said he didn't care about his status vs hers? If so, then I referenced that article to show otherwise. I never said anything about him being mean to her.

If he didn't care about her status compared to his, why did he even mention asking his students if they had ever heard of her? Why did he mention that she made more money than him at The New Yorker?

That had everything to do with him thinking about her status as a film critic and his adversary.

by Anonymousreply 192April 12, 2024 10:44 PM

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982).

by Anonymousreply 193April 12, 2024 10:49 PM


by Anonymousreply 194April 12, 2024 10:53 PM

She like quite a lot of movies

M*A*S*H, Lolita (1962) Mean Streets, Saturday Night Fever, Shoeshine, Carrie, The Fury, Bonnie and Clyde, The Heiress, The Nun's Story, The Member of the Wedding, Room at the Top, The Innocents, Sleeper, Long Day's Journey into Night (1962) The Miracle Worker, The Wild Child, Jules and Jim, Z, Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice, The Godfather, Shame (1968) Smile (1975) Bringing Up Baby, Singing in the Rain, Payday (1973) Trouble in Paradise, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Baby Doll, Forbidden Games, Nights of Cabiria, Strangers on a Train, The Maltese Falcon, The Magnificent Ambersons, His Girl Friday, Pretty Poison (1968) All About Eve, Cabaret, My Left Foot, The Stepfather, Driving Miss Daisy, Enemies: A Love Story, Casualties of War, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Grifters, Drugstore Cowboy, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Hope and Glory, Pennies from Heaven, The Elephant Man, Sounder, The New Land, The Landlord, The Emigrants, The Sugarland Express, Jaws, Nashville, Something Wild (1986) Gunga Din (1939) The Gold Rush . . . .

by Anonymousreply 195April 12, 2024 11:16 PM

Yes there very much was an adversarial relationship between Kael and Sarris. How could anyone not know this if they were around then and reading film criticism? I as well am incredulous that anyone taking a film criticism course from Sarris would not know who Kael was. Impossible.

The thing with Kael was unlike just about every other critic if you disagreed with her about one film it seems as though you became her mortal enemy. She was absolutely omnipotent if a film was good or bad. She could write pages and pages about a film yet things were pretty much black and white for her.

by Anonymousreply 196April 13, 2024 12:15 AM

[quote]Why do you need to double-space?

R190 - I don't "need" to.

It's just something I do because I think posts are easier to read that way.

I do it even when I respond on other threads.

by Anonymousreply 197April 13, 2024 12:45 AM

R192 You're reading into it what you want to see. What does his students not having heard of her have to do with him? He's not comparing their status by doing that.

by Anonymousreply 198April 13, 2024 12:47 AM

R197 We're not idiots, we can read single spaced text.

by Anonymousreply 199April 13, 2024 12:48 AM

[quote]We're not idiots

You must be new here.

by Anonymousreply 200April 13, 2024 12:53 AM

Sorry - you want to double space, go right ahead.. I don't get it but I guess I was rude about it. Sorry agin.

Here's a nicely balanced piece (on the event of his death) about Sarris. I liked him better than Kael because I thought he was more reasoned and I agreed with him more - but I liked her, too. I like her comment about trash culture quoted in this article.

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by Anonymousreply 201April 13, 2024 1:00 AM

I seem to remember she loved Natalie Wood.

by Anonymousreply 202April 13, 2024 1:12 AM

Great thread. I don't think these have been mentioned:


Mike's Murder

by Anonymousreply 203April 13, 2024 1:17 AM


Keep up the random unmotivated bitchiness, r190! That's why we come here.

by Anonymousreply 204April 13, 2024 1:21 AM

Did she mention any of Tarantino's films in her later interviews? I don't think she ever reviewed them, but he reveres her so much. I'm curious whether or not she said anything about him.

by Anonymousreply 205April 13, 2024 1:22 AM

Kael said she liked Pulp Fiction and found it funny but felt many critics took it too seriously. (I'm wondering if she was referring to Roger Ebert and David Denby at the time, the latter calling Tarantino "The American Godard.")

by Anonymousreply 206April 13, 2024 2:20 AM

I guess she hated the grand ladies. I love Garson and Random Harvest. It's one of my favorite movies. But I don't hold it against her for hating it.

I don't get her dislike of Dunne. She was truly hilarious in comedies. She could be grand but enormously moving in something like The White Cliffs of Dover. I guess that kind of nobility really rubbed her the wrong way. As opposed to the audiences of the time and me.

by Anonymousreply 207April 13, 2024 2:30 AM

She liked Dunne in The Awful Truth, Penny Serenade, My Favorite Wife and I Remember Mama

by Anonymousreply 208April 13, 2024 3:21 AM

R202 - no she thought Natalie Wood was a terrible actress. As bad as Candice Bergen before Candice started doing comedy.

by Anonymousreply 209April 13, 2024 4:44 AM

One of the things I always liked best about Kael was that in interviews she was willing to admit her faults, which is something almost no critic likes to do. She said she realized her criticism really got under people's skin sometimes, and that she had a tendency to be "Olympian" sometimes and also "smart-alecky" (her words), and that that really nettled people.

Her biography was interesting, although it was very cagey about her sexuality. She was married to a gay man, and had his daughter, Gina, but seemed to have almost no sex during her lifetime. She took advantage of her daughter's dependency upon her and made her her typist, which was a nightmare for Gina: Kael could not type herself, and would often procrastinate with her reviews so that Gina frequently had to stay up late into the night for her mother to finish writing so she could rush typing it up and sending it off to The New Yorker.

by Anonymousreply 210April 13, 2024 5:19 AM

Reviewing "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," she said, "Natalie Wood is still doing what she was doing as a child - still telegraphing us that she is being cute and funny - and she's wrong." I thought the movie also telegraphed us that it was being cute and funny, but Kael wrote an endless rave, praising it as "a sophisticated popular comedy."

by Anonymousreply 211April 13, 2024 5:22 AM

R209, the only actress Kael felt was as bad as Bergen was Ali MacGraw.

by Anonymousreply 212April 13, 2024 5:25 AM

I think Kael changed her view on Ali when she did the comedy with Sidney Lumet - Just Tell Me What You Want.

by Anonymousreply 213April 13, 2024 6:00 AM

Lumet said Kael told him that her job as a critic was "to tell him what to do," although she denied ever saying that. Just Tell Him What You Want Him to Do.

by Anonymousreply 214April 13, 2024 6:28 AM

she really liked and enjoyed a wide variety of films: Dog Day Afternoon, The Warriors, A World Apart, Hi, Mom! La Grande Illusion, Planet of the Apes (1968) Oliver (1968) Duck Soup, Atlantic City, Shampoo, 1978s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wild Bunch, Hud, Juggernaut, The Last American Hero, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonstruck, She's Gotta Have It, Shoot the Moon, Shoeshine, Splash, The Pumpkin Eater, Matador, The Year of Living Dangerously, Fires on the Plain, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Hard Times, Melvin and Howard, Zorro, The Gay Blade, Hamburger Hill, From Here to Eternity, F/X, Going Places, Bull Durham, Caveman, Charade, The Earrings of Madame De . . .

by Anonymousreply 215April 13, 2024 7:19 AM

Kael loved movies and that came through in her reviews. There was a piece on John Simon after his death that astutely pointed out that you just read his reviews if you wanted to read something bitchy.

"It is saddening for me to say this, but I doubt that he ever wrote anything which could make a novice reader feel that the theatre (or film, or literature, or music) was an art worth pursuing, or worth attending to, as having some value for civilization. John published many books collecting his reviews, and I read through most of them, but I don’t recall them offering me any insight on why I should care about a given work, or about the art as a whole. I gave them away."

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by Anonymousreply 216April 13, 2024 3:03 PM

[quote] "It is saddening for me to say this, but I doubt that he ever wrote anything which could make a novice reader feel that the theatre (or film, or literature, or music) was an art worth pursuing, or worth attending to, as having some value for civilization. John published many books collecting his reviews, and I read through most of them, but I don’t recall them offering me any insight on why I should care about a given work, or about the art as a whole. I gave them away."

I read an article Simon did in praise of Fredric March, who was more or less forgotten by younger filmgoers and not talked about a lot at the time (the late '70s? I think). It got me interested in March and I started seeing his films and discovering him. So I guess Pauline goofed on that one.

by Anonymousreply 217April 13, 2024 5:03 PM

Shortly before her death in 2001, Kael reportedly told a friend, "When we championed trash culture, we had no idea it would become the only culture."

by Anonymousreply 218April 13, 2024 5:07 PM

I actually do think it's possible that Sarris's film students had never heard of Kael. Film students are not film scholars. I took film courses at college - at 17 to 21. Do you think that meant I or the other students were exceedingly knowledgeable about film? We were kids. You can only read/see so much when you haven't been alive that long. Pauline Kael was retired at the time Sarris was talking about, so it's very possible his students had not heard of or read her.

by Anonymousreply 219April 13, 2024 5:11 PM

I loved what Andy Warhol said about seeing Gandhi in his dairies, r209. Basically, you're immersed in this incredible experience and then...Candace Bergen playing a journalist. Totally took you out of the film.

by Anonymousreply 220April 13, 2024 6:01 PM

R217, Kael did not write the essay on Simon.

by Anonymousreply 221April 13, 2024 6:08 PM

Simon MacCorkindale? She should've.

by Anonymousreply 222April 13, 2024 6:11 PM

R221 Oh, okay. Well it was easy to make that mistake when Kael's opinion of Simon is given, and then: "There was an essay on Simon" - makes it sound like it was her essay.

by Anonymousreply 223April 13, 2024 6:16 PM

To demonstrate the natural generosity and grace Pauline Kael possessed that Sarris and Simon seemed incapable of, I'll quote from her biography about an exchange she'd had with someone not long before she died:

"Her friend Dennis Delrogh had been to see Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now: Redux,' with much original footage restored. Delrogh pointed out that Andrew Sarris still hadn't liked the movie.

"'Of course,' said Pauline. 'He's smart.'"

by Anonymousreply 224April 13, 2024 6:25 PM

...In private.

by Anonymousreply 225April 13, 2024 6:35 PM

[quote]She was married to a gay man

Now that is something I didn't know - and it makes her following observation about the Sophia Loren / Marcello Mastroianni film [italic]A Special Day[/italic] interesting:

"When the housewife tenderly begins to make love to the homosexual and puts his hand on her magnificent melon breast, it's embarrassingly tasteful. Your first thought may be [italic]Pizza and Sympathy[/italic], but it's your next that's fatal. The man lies there politely, joylessly; his face drawn, tense, utterly still. How can you have any feeling for a man who doesn't enjoy being in bed with Sophia Loren? You lose any interest in the radio announcer afterward."

by Anonymousreply 226April 13, 2024 6:46 PM

R225, she never went after anyone as a person, in print.

by Anonymousreply 227April 13, 2024 6:58 PM

R226 I don't know how can "you"?

by Anonymousreply 228April 13, 2024 6:59 PM

The Story of Adele H.

She wrote a beautiful review of that movie. She absolutely loved it, and it's some of her best writing.

by Anonymousreply 229April 13, 2024 7:13 PM

Rocky, All the President's Men. The Bad News Bears, American Graffiti, Chinatown, Smile, Straw Dogs, The Sting, Papillion, Bang the Drum Slowly, Black Sunday, The Spy Who Loved Me, Badlands, The French Connection, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Candidate, Sleeper. Hearts of the West, Jaws, Nashville, MASH, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Onion Field, Breaking Away, The Rose, The Man Who Would Be King, The China Syndrome, Outrageous, Young Frankenstein, An Unmarried Woman, The Late Show. Little Big Man, Charley Varrick, Serpico, Sounder and Norma Rae all found favor if not outright raves from John Simon in his collection Reverse Angle: A Decade of American Films. Reviews of English Language films of the 70s

by Anonymousreply 230April 13, 2024 7:59 PM

[quote] Shortly before her death in 2001, Kael reportedly told a friend, "When we championed trash culture, we had no idea it would become the only culture."

I think she told that to Paul Schrader. He was close to her and wrote a lovely essay about her when she died. I had no idea she had helped him get into UCLA and encouraged him to become a film critic until I read his essay.

by Anonymousreply 231April 13, 2024 8:54 PM

She was an early fan of Jessica Lange, Robert Downey Jr. and Jodie Foster.

On the other hand, she also seemed to admire James Toback.

by Anonymousreply 232April 13, 2024 9:17 PM

I could be wrong I seem to remember she called the '70s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers a masterpiece (and I don't think she even mentioned the original).

by Anonymousreply 233April 13, 2024 9:23 PM

I don't know that she called it a masterpiece but she gave it a very positive review.

It's a good movie.

by Anonymousreply 234April 13, 2024 9:24 PM

Well I don't know but she said it “may be the best movie of its kind ever made” - which is typically OTT for her.

by Anonymousreply 235April 13, 2024 9:55 PM

[quote] [R221] Oh, okay. Well it was easy to make that mistake when Kael's opinion of Simon is given, and then: "There was an essay on Simon" - makes it sound like it was her essay.

It would have taken you an entire second to click the link to see who actually said it, you lazy-ass.

by Anonymousreply 236April 13, 2024 9:59 PM

R236 I already explained that the way you phrased it made it seem as if she said it. So why would I click on a link?

by Anonymousreply 237April 13, 2024 10:05 PM

Simon died almost 20 years after Kael so how could she have written something about him after he died.

R237, you might click on a link since you so strongly disagreed because of his column on Frederick March and read the entire article. It's actually quite enlightening and a strong argument as to why he will never be considered on Kael's level.

by Anonymousreply 238April 13, 2024 10:14 PM

R238 And you might learn how to spell Fredric March.

by Anonymousreply 239April 13, 2024 10:17 PM

Kael on Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Undiluted pleasure and excitement. This set of variations on the low-budget 1956 classic has its own macabre originality.

by Anonymousreply 240April 13, 2024 10:27 PM

Totally agree with her about the Body Snatchers remake. That movie blew was astonishing in the way remakes rarely are.

She said she received a lot of criticism for liking it so much. Pffft, idiots.

by Anonymousreply 241April 13, 2024 10:31 PM

not *blew* sheesh

by Anonymousreply 242April 13, 2024 10:32 PM

R240 Isn't that one of her capsule reviews, not her actual review?

by Anonymousreply 243April 13, 2024 10:33 PM

Pauline was from the San Francisco area and tended to be a little more favorable to movies filmed there.

by Anonymousreply 244April 13, 2024 10:34 PM

[quote] [R236] I already explained that the way you phrased it made it seem as if she said it.

I did not phrase that. You're confusing me with another poster.

You really are a lazy-ass.

by Anonymousreply 245April 13, 2024 10:44 PM

R244 From the full review:

The story is set in San Francisco, which is the ideally right setting, because of the city's traditional hospitality to artists and eccentrics. Probably nowhere else have people considered so many systems of thought and been through so many interpersonal wars; San Franciscans often look shell-shocked. The various outcroppings of the human-potential move­ ment have had an unexpected result: instead of becoming more individual, people in therapeutic groups get so self-absorbed in their various quests that they appear dulled out. And so when the gooey seeds from space come down in the rain over San Francisco and cling to leaves and establish root systems and blossom, and each flower pod develops into a fetus that grows large enough to replace an individual as he sleeps, while the old body crumbles into a small pile of garbage, it is not surprising to hear the reborn flower people proselytizing for their soulless condition as a higher form of life. "Don't be trapped by old concepts," one of them says. The story simply wouldn't be as funny in New York City, where people are not so relaxed, or so receptive to new visions. There are no a-priori rejections in San Francisco. The hip-idyllic city , with its gingerbread houses and its j agged geometric profile of hills covered with little triangles and rectangles , is such a pretty plaything that it's the central character. The movie itself is like a toy; it's all filigree, in the way that The Manchurian Candidate is. As the malignant growth sprouts brilliant-red blossoms, we hear the film's first words: in the bland, bored tone of someone who's trying to fill up the time, a teacher who's out with her class says, "There's some more flowers, kids. Go pick them . " That has got to be a famous first line . For the opening third of the picture, almost every scene has a verbal or visual gag built into it, and throughout there's a laciness to the images-to the way the interiors include exterior views of the whimsical, Victorian-dollhouse architecture, and the bright-colored sanitation trucks gobbling up waste matter.

by Anonymousreply 246April 13, 2024 10:46 PM

Yes, R243 5001 Nights at the Movies is a collection of her capsule reviews many of which appeared in The New Yorker.

She overestimates the remake which gets bogged down about halfway in a series of chases though it has a memorable finish. I prefer the simplicity and brevity of the original.

NY Times Janet Maslin- The plot just isn't full enough to carry a feature film. An hour into the film once the menace is identified the few remaining human beings begin fleeing for their lives and after that it's just run, run, run.

by Anonymousreply 247April 13, 2024 10:49 PM

[quote] Pauline was from the San Francisco area and tended to be a little more favorable to movies filmed there.

But she hated Dirty Harry, which was filed in San Francisco. Though, I think that had more to do with her distaste of Eastwood than anything.

by Anonymousreply 248April 13, 2024 10:49 PM


by Anonymousreply 249April 13, 2024 10:50 PM

Couldn't disagree more with Maslin. That's why Kael was superior to Maslin, a middling talent at best.

by Anonymousreply 250April 13, 2024 10:52 PM

Maslin is more enjoyable to read than Manohla Dargis, who I find to be insufferable

by Anonymousreply 251April 13, 2024 10:54 PM

Her entire column for December 25, 1978 was on Invasion and called Pods. It is reprinted in her collection When The Lights Go Down.

by Anonymousreply 252April 13, 2024 11:00 PM

Maslin actually walked out of Dawn of the Dead and wrote a bad review. She had to fucking apologize, it was such a crass thing to do. You're fucking paid to watch the movie, cunt, not to write a review of a MOVIE YOU DIDN'T SEE.

I can't think of one memorable review she ever wrote.

by Anonymousreply 253April 13, 2024 11:00 PM

The opening to her review of Dirty Harry is classic Kaelian.

[quote] The movie opens on a memorial plaque in the lobby of the San Francisco Hall of Justice, and we read the words “In Tribute to the Police Officers of San Francisco Who Gave Their Lives in the Line of Duty,” and then the beginning of a list of names. This is a rather strange opening for Dirty Harry, since it isn’t about the death of a police officer. The tribute, however, puts the Viewer in a respectful frame of mind; we all know that many police are losing their lives. The movie then proceeds to offer a magically simple culprit for their deaths: the liberals. Actually, the opening is strange for other reasons, too. I grew up in San Francisco, and one of the soundest pieces of folk wisdom my mother gave me was “If you’re ever in trouble, don’t go to the cops.” I remember a high-school teacher telling me that it never ceased to amaze him that his worst students—the sadists and the bullies—landed not in jail but on the police force, though sometimes on the police force and then in jail. Even as children, San Franciscans were deeply aware of the corruption of the police—something totally ignored in this movie. Dirty Harry is not about the actual San Francisco police force; it’s about a right-wing fantasy of that police force as a group helplessly emasculated by unrealistic liberals. The conceit of this movie is that for one brief, glorious period the police have a realist in their midst—and drive him out.

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by Anonymousreply 254April 13, 2024 11:01 PM

I used to be a film reviewer and R253 is right. I had to stay and watch everything I was employed to do. The closest I came to walking out was on Speechless (1994). HATED it but stayed.

by Anonymousreply 255April 13, 2024 11:04 PM

Kael walked out of "Fellini's Casanova" and still reviewed it. But I'm sure R253's dictum doesn't apply to her.

by Anonymousreply 256April 13, 2024 11:15 PM

Kael may have been a better critic than most, but I don't agree with her or anybody all the time.

TIME- . . .sadly they cannot compensate for all the other mistakes in a film that lingers too long and too soberly over material that as the original showed must be quickly even superficially handled if it is to be accepted at all.

TV Guide- The film collapses midway because of unsure and sloppy direction and splintered story continuity. The battle between Sutherland and the aliens in the pod factory at the end is simply absurd and sophomoric.

There are small disappointments. Matthew has a sequence of racing from one telephone booth to another which is charged with meaningless tension and has no particular payoff. Perhaps the scenes in which pods are being dispatched to other cities are not as elegantly staged as they might be and there may be a few times when the generally dazzling score overpowers the action -Pauline Kael

by Anonymousreply 257April 13, 2024 11:17 PM

R239, which might be further proof how completely forgotten he is.

by Anonymousreply 258April 13, 2024 11:58 PM

R256 I wouldn't call what she wrote a review. She admitted to watching an hour of it. And you're right, I admit I make allowances for her and not Maslin, who trashed a good horror movie she didn't even see. I shouldn't have called her a cunt though, I just think she sucks.

by Anonymousreply 259April 14, 2024 12:25 AM

Though some mainstream critics appreciated “Dawn” at the time (Roger Ebert called it “one of the best horror films ever made”), The New York Times’s Janet Maslin was not among them. “I have a pet peeve about flesh-eating zombies who never stop snacking,” she wrote in her review. “Accordingly, I was able to sit through only the first 15 minutes of ‘Dawn of the Dead.’” Her colleague Vincent Canby would subsequently review the film in its entirety (negatively). But in 2020, Maslin posted on Twitter, “Walking out of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ was an unprofessional and stupid thing to do, and anyone offended by my review is right. It’s a mistake I never made again.”

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by Anonymousreply 260April 14, 2024 12:32 AM

Just curious - R246, R254 - didn't she use paragraphs?

by Anonymousreply 261April 14, 2024 1:17 AM

I was a film critic, too, once (sorry, person who keeps telling me I'm lazy for not reading every word of every post in this thread). I never walked out on anything but these are times when I suppose if something is turning one's stomach...

Or you've just seen enough...you can walk out. Just acknowledge that you did - as Maslin did. It's a statement of your reaction to the material. "This book was so bad I couldn't get through it" would be acceptable, too. You shouldn't have to force yourself to continue to see/read something you feel is very bad.

by Anonymousreply 262April 14, 2024 1:23 AM

R261 I downloaded the book so maybe that altered the format. There are paragraphs but some are very long like the San Francisco excerpt.

by Anonymousreply 263April 14, 2024 1:34 AM

Both Kael and Maslin admitted in their reviews they walked out of the films based on initial impressions. Kael stuck it out longer and was thus able to give some idea if why the film didn't work for her. I appreciate Maslin's apology - it was an unprofessional moment.

Maslin is not a "fine" writer, but she was a transparent, honest and unapologetic bellwether of mass American taste and that's not nothing.

Rather read her than Sarris or Adler.

by Anonymousreply 264April 14, 2024 3:04 AM

I once read a defense of walking out of a movie by a critic (I think in Seattle) - the movie was so horrendously violent and made the viewer sit through repeated stabbings and rapes. Just reading her description made me nauseated.

by Anonymousreply 265April 14, 2024 2:21 PM

Kael's description of DIRTY HARRY is spot-on.

by Anonymousreply 266April 14, 2024 8:58 PM

NYTimes The Last House on the Left 12/22/72 Howard Thompson left after 50 minutes

In a thing (as opposed to a film) titled "Last House on the Left," four slobbering fiends capture and torture two "groovy" young girls who airily explore the bad section of a town and more or less ask for trouble. When I walked out, after 50 minutes (with 35 to go), one girl had just been dismembered with a machete. They had started in on the other with a slow switchblade. The party who wrote this sickening tripe and also directed the inept actors is Wes Craven. it's at the Penthouse Theater, for anyone interested in paying to see repulsive people and human agony.

by Anonymousreply 267April 15, 2024 1:54 AM

As this thread shows, Kael liked a lot of movies. She said that it's much harder to write a negative review than a positive one. She WANTED to be seduced.

Maybe it's because she wrote this piece with this headline.

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by Anonymousreply 268April 15, 2024 10:41 PM


by Anonymousreply 269April 17, 2024 2:29 AM

She became well-known for the popular, acclaimed films she didn't like such as A Clockwork Orange, Star Wars, The Towering Inferno, Dr Strangelove, The Sound of Music, The French Connection, Sleuth, Georgy Girl. Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Serpico, Judgement at Nuremberg, Hannah and Her Sisters, West Side Story, Raging Bull, Witness, Platoon . . .

by Anonymousreply 270April 18, 2024 7:23 PM

She found something to like in films such as Rafferty and the Goldust Twins, Up the Sandbox, Walking Tall, The Scalphunters, Billy Jack, The Late Show, King Kong (1977), Used Cars, The Honeymoon Killers, Diner, Choose Me, Heartbreakers, Re-Animator Moonstruck, Wild in the Streets while dismissing The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ryan's Daughter, The Lion in Winter, Dances with Wolves, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Faces, Blow-Up, Airport, Coming Home, The Exorcist, Cries and Whispers, Ordinary People, The Color Purple (1985), The Red Desert, Kramer vs. Kramer, Midnight Express.

by Anonymousreply 271April 20, 2024 7:22 AM

She loved Club Paradise and Robin Williams said that he thought the movie was so bad that someone must have hijacked Kael's typewriter (of course, this thread knows she didn't type).

by Anonymousreply 272April 20, 2024 7:26 AM

R271 I haven't seen all those films but what's wrong with liking Diner? Or The Late Show? Or Moonstruck? They're all much better than Airport.

by Anonymousreply 273April 20, 2024 4:07 PM

Airport is a piece of shit.

by Anonymousreply 274April 20, 2024 4:42 PM

Maureen Stapleton kills it in Airport. Overall, it’s very watchable —the best of the genre up to that point.

Now, the V.I.P.s *is* shit.

by Anonymousreply 275April 20, 2024 4:46 PM

R275 I think The High and the Mighty is better than Airport.

by Anonymousreply 276April 20, 2024 5:02 PM

R276 When your motor conked out, my motor conked out.

by Anonymousreply 277April 20, 2024 5:14 PM

R156, directors never cut their own films. It’s ordered by the money and that’s whoever has the biggest producer credit. Lean started out as an editor and he might’ve cut his movie but it wouldn’t be his idea.

by Anonymousreply 278April 23, 2024 3:15 AM


by Anonymousreply 279July 6, 2024 1:08 PM

She tried to be contrary to set herself apart from the herd. I didn't enjoy any of her reviews; she sounded like a cranky old bitch. She lauded that forgettable Babs film "All Night Long".

by Anonymousreply 280July 6, 2024 1:13 PM

You're a fucking idiot, R280.

by Anonymousreply 281July 7, 2024 4:15 AM

When I was a boy I went to see Airport at Radio City. It was the Easter film(a disaster movie?) and it was presented in Todd AO and stereo. It looked and sounded great. I loved it. I have yet to see it again though I have the blue ray still wrapped. The scenes excerpted I see on youtube with Bisset and Hayes are still funny and Van Heflin getting the suitcase back is still exciting. I remember Stapleton being great. Maybe it in its entirety doesn't hold up but those scenes do. It was a huge huge success. It packed them in everywhere as they used to say.

by Anonymousreply 282July 7, 2024 7:30 PM

John Simon's review of Breakfast with Les and Bess wildly praising Holland Taylor got me to go see it. It was as wonderful as he said. I'm sure nobody remembers it but me but it is still a cherished theatrical memory.

by Anonymousreply 283July 7, 2024 7:35 PM

Masculin Féminin

Such a good film.

by Anonymousreply 284July 7, 2024 7:35 PM
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