The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. The Jets, the Sharks, and the making of a classic by Richard Barrios is published by (Running Press [Little Brown], £20.). She called it … The Warriors US (1979): Action 90 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc . [12] Kael programmed the films at the two-screen facility, "unapologetically repeat[ing] her favorites until they also became audience favorites. The legend goes that her scathing critique, in which she called the film “the single most repressive influence on artistic freedom in movies,” got her fired from McCall magazine. Would love your thoughts, please comment. 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. [45], In the early 1980s, Kael was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which has a cognitive component. "[68], 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. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Occasionally, she championed films that were considered critical failures, such as The Warriors and Last Tango in Paris. The movie’s release also had Jewish connections. (West Side Story. She labeled Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971), starring Clint Eastwood, a "right-wing fantasy" and "a remarkably single-minded attack on liberal values. A basic shofar call, the Tekiah, provides the musical motif that many of the show’s most important songs are based on. [39] Other than sporadic confrontations with Shawn, Kael said she spent most of her work time at home, writing. —Kyoko in Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story. 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. By this measure, West Side Story is one of the best of all movie musicals. [14], Kael continued to juggle writing with other work until she received an offer to publish a book of her criticism. In a blistering essay in a 1980 edition of the New York Review Of Books, Renata Adler accused New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael of doing lasting damage to the critical enterprise. "[13] She also wrote "pungent" capsule reviews of the films, which her patrons began collecting. : 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. 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. The motif is known in musical terms as a ‘tri-tone’ (the interval of the augmented 4th.) [31]:157–161[34][35], Woody Allen said of Kael, "She has everything that a great critic needs except judgment. [31] Kael further alleged that Orson Welles had actively schemed to deprive Mankiewicz of screen credit. All four of the musical’s creators, Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim were Jewish. By 1968, Time magazine was referring to her as "one of the country's top movie critics.”[24]. Her fourth collection, Deeper into Movies (1973), won the U.S. National Book Award in the Arts and Letters category. Coinciding with a job at the high-circulation women's magazine McCall's, Kael (as Newsweek put it in a 1966 profile) "went mass.”[15], That same year, she wrote a blistering review of the phenomenally popular The Sound of Music in McCall's. (For context, more homosexuals were fired from government employment in the McCarthy period than communists.). [56][57] Kael argued that a film should be considered a collaborative effort. The earlier comparison to Spartacus was apt (for which Saul Bass also designed the title sequences). Referred to derisively as the "Paulettes," they came to dominate national film criticism in the 1990s. Where they are I don't know. 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. Critics who have acknowledged Kael's influence include, among many others, A. O. Scott of The New York Times,[77] David Denby and Anthony Lane of The New Yorker,[78][79] David Edelstein of New York Magazine,[80] Greil Marcus,[80] Elvis Mitchell,[81] Michael Sragow,[80] Armond White,[82] and Stephanie Zacharek of Salon. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused"[1] reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. [90], In January 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore posted a recollection of Kael's response[91] to his documentary film Roger & Me (1989). She has great passion, terrific wit, wonderful writing style, huge knowledge of film history, but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising. Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. Yet our tears for each other, and for Shoeshine did not bring us together. "[66] 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." 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. "[9] Kael disparaged the supposed critic's ideal of objectivity, referring to it as "saphead objectivity,"[10] and incorporated aspects of autobiography into her criticism. In a 1998 interview with Modern Maturity, she said she sometimes regretted not being able to review: "A few years ago when I saw Vanya on 42nd Street, I wanted to blow trumpets. [37] She fought with William Shawn to review the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, though she eventually relented. But, of course, she wasn't writing comedy. "[60] She also called it "fascist medievalism. Their families violently pursue each other with a tragic ending. After mentioning that some of the press had dubbed it "The Sound of Money," Kael called the film's message a "sugarcoated lie that people seem to want to eat. Craig Seligman has defended Kael, saying that these remarks showed "enough ease with the topic to be able to crack jokes—in a dark period when other reviewers. Andrew Sarris, a key proponent of the theory, debated it with Kael in the pages of The New Yorker and various film magazines. She became known as his nemesis. Production design was done by Boris Leven, costume design by Irene Sharaff, the titles by Saul Bass. 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);[26] an incisive 1975 look at Cary Grant's career;[27] 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. She was particularly critical towards Clint Eastwood: her reviews of his films and acting, even if generally well-favored, were resoundingly negative. Yet, when he was dismissed halfway through the production (as Anthony Mann was on Spartacus thus allowing the young Kubrick to step in), the cast members, especially the dancers, did not welcome the news with relief but with ‘outrage, disbelief, and gut-punched devastation’. "[41] 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. Director | West Side Story Robert Earl Wise was born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Indiana, the youngest of three sons of Olive R. (Longenecker) and Earl Waldo Wise, a meat packer. She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence,[50] The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Lawrence of Arabia,[51] most experimental cinema[52] (calling it "a creature of publicity and mutual congratulations on artistry"), most student films ("freshmen compositions"),[53] It's a Wonderful Life, Shoah, Dances with Wolves[54] and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the last of which Kael dubbed a "monumentally unimaginative movie." [10] Alternately, Kael was said to have had the power to prevent filmmakers from working; David Lean claimed that her criticism of his work "kept him from making a movie for 14 years"[86] (referring to the 14-year break between Ryan's Daughter in 1970 and A Passage to India in 1984). . In "Raising Kane" (1971), an essay she wrote on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, she points out how the film made extensive use of the distinctive talents of co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and cinematographer Gregg Toland. At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. 40 Pauline Kael West Side Story The irony of this hyped-up, slam-bang production is that those involved apparently don't really believe that beauty and romance can be expressed in modern rhythms, because whenever their Romeo and Juliet enter the scene, the dialogue becomes painfully old-fashioned and mawkish, the dancing turns to simpering, sickly romantic ballet, and sugary old stars hover in the sky. Richard Barrios writes how, ‘Her takedown of West Side Story, so gleeful that it could be termed performance art, was among the book [I Lost It at the Movies]’s most-discussed pieces. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. Such comparisons with Spartacus are apt in more ways than one. '"[67] 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. I wanted the sentences to breathe, to have the sound of a human voice. 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) They are saying that everyone is brutal, and the heroes must be as brutal as the villains or they turn into fools. [75], As soon as she began writing for The New Yorker, Kael carried a great deal of influence among fellow critics. 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. Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay. "[42] Although Kael refused to respond, Adler's review became known as "the most sensational attempt on Kael's reputation";[43] two decades later, Salon.com (ironically) referred to Adler's "worthless" denunciation of Kael as her "most famous single sentence. McDonald, Dwight, On Movies , New Jersey, 1969. ... like the bitchiest queen in gay mythology, she has a sharp remark about everything". You don't have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact de-sensitizing us. There seems to be an assumption that if you're offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. Rita Moreno (Anita) later played a Jewish mother in the sitcom Happily Divorced (2011-2013). 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. Kael, Pauline, I Lost It at the Movies , Boston, 1965. 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. [2], Initially, many considered her colloquial, brash writing style an odd fit with the sophisticated and genteel New Yorker. [25] It was the first non-fiction book about film to win a National Book Award. 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. The stage version was originally planned as a story about a Catholic boy falling in love with a Jewish girl. [69][70], The quote quickly turned into an urban legend that Kael had instead stated something like "I can't believe Nixon won. [2][3], She left a lasting impression on several prominent film critics. Under her mentoring, Schrader worked as a film critic before taking up screenwriting and directing full time. [19][20] Kael's rave review was at odds with prevailing opinion, which was that the film was inconsistent, blending comedy and violence. Her parents lost their farm when Kael was eight, and the family moved to San Francisco. Robert Wise co-directed it with Robbins. The film also shows several of Kael's appearances on PBS, including one alongside Woody Allen. "[44], In 1979, Kael accepted an offer from Warren Beatty to be a consultant to Paramount Pictures, but left the position after only a few months to return to writing criticism. He read her criticism voraciously growing up and said that Kael was "as influential as any director was in helping me develop my aesthetic". She reinvented the form, and pioneered an entire aesthetic of writing.". With her it was all personal. [84] When confronted with the rumor that she ran "a conspiratorial network of young critics," Kael said she believed that critics imitated her style rather than her actual opinions, stating, "A number of critics take phrases and attitudes from me, and those takings stick out—they're not integral to the writer's temperament or approach".[85]. 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". 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. Kael remembered "getting a letter from an eminent New Yorker writer suggesting that I was trampling through the pages of the magazine with cowboy boots covered with dung.”[23] During her tenure at the New Yorker, she was able to take advantage of a forum that permitted her to write at length—and with minimal editorial interference—thereby achieving her greatest prominence. Kael was an opponent of the auteur theory, criticizing it both in her reviews and in interviews. [21] According to critic David Thomson, "she was right about a film that had bewildered many other critics.”[14] A few months after the essay ran, Kael quit The New Republic "in despair. The dancers resembled the gladiators in the Roman ludus where, under the watch of the sadistic Marcellus, gladiators were put through their paces. Though she might be loath to admit it, West Side Story was, in a way, the making of Pauline Kael’. Occasionally, she championed films that were considered critical failures, such as The Warriors and Last Tango in Paris. 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". Rob Garver's documentary entitled What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael was released in 2018. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Kael, he said, "had no theory, no rules, no guidelines, no objective standards. Even though the protagonists were changed to Latinos and Anglos, and switched to the West Side of Manhattan, the Jewish traces remained. Her collection 5001 Nights at the Movies includes positive reviews of nearly all of Peckinpah's films, with the exception of The Getaway (1972), as well as Hill's Hard Times (1975), The Warriors (1979), and Southern Comfort (1981). 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.[55]. 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. In 1970, Kael received a George Polk Award for her work as a critic at the New Yorker. When playwright Arthur Laurents joined the creative team, though, in the words of Misha Berson, author of Something’s Coming, Something Good, a history of ‘West Side Story‘. With the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker narrating for Kael, the film is a portrait of the work of the film critic and her influence on the male-dominated worlds of cinema and film criticism. (West Side Story. [47] 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". 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 … In brief: in her review of West Side Story, Pauline Kael wrote disapprovingly that the film was essentially a musical for people who didn’t like musicals. [59], 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. She was considered by many to be the most influential American film critic of the last 50 years. Spartacus was based on a Howard Fast novel with an explicitly Jewish character, David the Jew, but whose Jewishness was progressively erased as the production developed. B roadly speaking, Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort ... and the Movies,” Pauline Kael noted in passing, ... An American in Paris, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and West Side Story, apparently threw Kael off the track. 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. For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In. [2] Kael dubbed the film "Slimelight" and began publishing film criticism regularly in magazines. [29][30] The essay extended Kael's dispute of the auteur theory,[10] 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. [46] At the time, Kael explained that she would still write essays for The New Yorker, along with "some reflections and other pieces of writing about movies.”[46] Over the next 10 years, however, she published no new work save for an introduction to her 1994 compendium, For Keeps. [38] 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." Kael was born on a chicken farm in Petaluma, California, to Isaac Paul Kael and Judith Kael (née Friedman), Jewish emigrants from Poland. I teach film studies at Bangor University in north Wales where I live. Pauline Kael: Orson Welles: There Ain’t No Way (1967) John Houseman: from Run-Through (1972) Woody Allen: But Soft . [47], 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. It’s telling that the opening of West Side Story is not a monologue or a dump of exposition, but an extended dance number. Her comments are so fresh and direct, it's as if the movies had only been released last week. 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. [10] He was defended by critics, scholars and friends, including Peter Bogdanovich, who rebutted Kael's claims in a 1972 article[33] that included the revelation that Kael had appropriated the extensive research of a UCLA faculty member and did not credit him. Kael responded, "Tough shit, Bill," and her review was printed unchanged. 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." Eliot Feld played Baby John and Martin Abrahams featured as a boy on a bicycle. The film may be I had never experienced such a brazen, bald-faced barrage of disinformation. In October 1967, Kael wrote a lengthy essay on Bonnie and Clyde, which the magazine declined to publish. Kael later explained her writing style: "I worked to loosen my style—to get away from the term-paper pomposity that we learn at college. The Jets, the Sharks, and the making of a classic, Richard Barrios describes West Side Story as ‘a musical epic’ that took a big approach like other movies of its time such as Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960). 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. There are 2,846 in all, ranging from early silents to the early 1990s, when Kael retired. In her review, Pauline Kael called it ‘frenzied hokum’. 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. [8] In a review of Vittorio De Sica's 1946 neorealist film Shoeshine that has been ranked among her most memorable,[11] Kael described seeing the film, ... after one of those terrible lovers' quarrels that leave one in a state of incomprehensible despair. [89] He later wrote to Kael, commenting: "[Y]our thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that". Why Is There Resistance to A Working Definition of Antisemitism? This is because, behind the legendary musical, lay a minyan of Jews. In the early 1970s, Cinerama distributors "initiate[d] a policy of individual screenings for each critic because her remarks [during the film] were affecting her fellow critics". 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. [2] In 1936 she matriculated at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied philosophy, literature, and art, but dropped out in 1940. The likeness of Robbins to Kubrick is also appropriate. Brian Kellow published a biography about Kael in 2011: A Life in the Dark (Viking Press). "[61] 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". 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. Long before Kubrick became notorious for it, Robbins was doing multiple takes of physically draining dance sequences. As her condition worsened, she became increasingly depressed about the state of American films, along with feeling that "I had nothing new to say.”[39] In a March 11, 1991, announcement which The New York Times referred to as "earth-shattering," Kael announced her retirement from reviewing films regularly. 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. [83] It was repeatedly alleged that, after her retirement, Kael's "most ardent devotees deliberate[d] with each other [to] forge a common School of Pauline position" before their reviews were written. However, she panned Midnight Cowboy (1969), the X-rated antihero film that won an Oscar for Best Picture. George Segal was ‘too old’. [72][73] 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,[74] and was sometimes said to have instead been stated after Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984. You couldn't apply her 'approach' to a film. "[17], 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. Kirk Douglas (producer of and lead in Spartacus) was one of the Jewish stars in attendance. Pauline Kael Reviews A-Z. https://www.amazon.com/Lost-at-Movies-Pauline-Kael/dp/0714529753 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. Leonard Bernstein composed the music and Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics. [61], 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:[62]. "[71] 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. Saul Chaplin who observed the dance rehearsals compared their atmosphere to that of ‘a concentration camp’. 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. What was so incredibly appalling and shocking is how she printed outright lies about my movie. and Paul Newman (who had starred in Exodus, the other movie that Dalton Trumbo had penned in 1960). "[22] In 1968, Kael was asked by Shawn to join The New Yorker staff; she alternated as film critic every six months with Penelope Gilliatt until 1979, and became sole critic in 1980 after a year's leave of absence working in the film industry. 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. "[65], In response to her review of Rich and Famous, several critics reappraised Kael's earlier reviews of gay-themed films, including a wisecrack Kael made about the gay-themed The Children's Hour: "I always thought this was why lesbians needed sympathy—that there isn't much they can do. For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael 's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus her! Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins idea inspired by Shakespeare 's Romeo and Juliet us together night and also. The Arts and Letters category was more than a great critic Kael and the filmmaker James had... 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