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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Andrew Sarris (1928-2012)

 

ANDREW SARRIS  (1928-2012)

Andy Sarris was my favorite movie critic because, in The American Cinema, he opened up a world for me, for all of us. That’s what a good critic, or a great one, does. Others opened doors as well, but Andy (no one I knew called him “Andrew”) opened it first and opened it wide– and took some lumps for doing it.

I don’t think everything in his book is gospel, or that auteurism doesn’t have some mistakes or misconceptions. I like every much some directors he at first low-rated (Lean, Wilder, Curtiz, Kazan). I feel he sometimes short-shrifted screenwriters in general. But what a world it was he gave us: from Hawks to Hitchcock, from Renoir to Rossellini, from Stanley Donen to Fritz Lang, from John Ford to Budd Boetticher to Chaplin to Ophuls to Orson Welles (“Rosebud!”) He gave us a great screening list, and a great companionable literary spirit to share it all with. And he could always revise his opinions — which I often wish he’d done for us, every five years. That would have been something to look forward to. Thanks Andy. Best to Molly. Goodbye, pal.

 

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Lola Montes (Max Ophuls)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)

 Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)

The Searchers (John Ford)

2 Responses to “Wilmington on Movies: Andrew Sarris (1928-2012)”

  1. Donald Cohen says:

    i bought The American Cinema when I was 20 and found it a great doorway into chasing up the films of the directors Andrew Sarris admired. Yes, he neglected some very gifted filmmakers but he argued intelligently and he’ll always be respected.
    i loved the his battles with Pauline Kael. Almost as enjoyable as some of the films.
    Cheers Don Cohen

  2. ycherrs says:

    Yes, he will always be respected and remembered. Good bye Andrew Sarris!

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook