This excerpt is quoted in the introduction of Pauline Kael’s article, and after some thought, I have decided it explains Kael’s first few criticisms better if it is accessible. The excerpt comes at the very end – it is in fact the final paragraph – of Andrew Sarris’s ‘Notes On The Auteur Theory In 1962’.
Sometimes, a great deal of corn must be husked to yield a few kernels of internal meaning. I recently saw Every Night at Eight  one of the many maddeningly routine films Raoul Walsh has directed in his long career. This 1935 effort featured George Raft, Alice Faye, Frances Langford, and Patsy Kelly in one of those familiar plots about radio shows of the period. The film keeps moving along in the pleasantly unpretentious manner one would expect of Walsh until one incongruously intense scene with George Raft trashing about in his sleep, revealing his inner fears in mumbling dream-talk. The girl he loves comes into the room in the midst of unconscious avowals of feeling and listens sympathetically. This unusual scene was later amplified in High Sierra  with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino. The point is that one of the screen’s most virile directors employed an essentially feminine narrative device to dramatize the emotional vulnerability of his heroes. If I had not been aware of Walsh in Every Night at Eight, the crucial link to High Sierra would have passed unnoticed. Such are the joys of the auteur theory. (1.)
1. Andrew Sarris, ‘Notes On The Auteur Theory In 1962′, in Gerald Mast & Marshall Cohen (ed), Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, (1979), pp. 650-665, p. 665
2 thoughts on “A Couple of Squared Circles, Sarris and Kael – Excerpt”
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