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October 1994


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Murray Pomerance <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Oct 1994 18:28:29 -0400
text/plain (63 lines)
On Fri, 21 Oct 1994, Shawn Levy wrote:
> On Fri, 21 Oct 1994, Randy Riddle wrote:
> > I'm sorry Patrick, but are you discounting Welles extensive stage and
> > radio experience from his preparation for making films?
> >
> > It seems to me that many filmmakers of the past (Welles, Sturges,
> > Coppola, etc) had a more more well-rounded liberal arts education, often
> > more knowledge of classic literature, theater, music, or film
> > history itself, than alot of the young filmmakers I'm seeing today.
> But is there something inherent in that 'well-rounded liberal arts
> education' that will result in a good filmmaker?  Truffaut didn't finish
> high school and debuted with "The 400 Blows."  Chaplin had a damn sight
> less schooling than that (though, of course, extensive stage
> experience).  The point that Patrick was making was that nothing about
> the age or experience of the filmmaker is relevant in judging the film.
> I mean, Michael Crichton was an MD and experienced novelist when he
> directed "Westworld," which, interesting though it might be in certain
> lights, ain't "Reservoir Dogs" by a long shot.  If we're only going to be
> allowed to pay focused critical attention to a certain class of works,
> and if that class is defined by the life experiences of the directors of
> the films, then we haven't gotten much beyond 19th century pedagogy.
Truffaut, who didn't finish highschool in *Paris* in the 1950s was not in
the same position as someone, say, who doesn't finish highschool today in
New York City.  He was, when he made Les Quatre cent coups, an alumnus of
several years' standing from Les Cahiers du Cinema, where he had studied
at the side of Bazin and in the company of Godard and Scherer.  Give me
that to any highschool you can name.  His competence in literacy is
undisputed (as you know, many of his films are testimonies to his own
studies in literacy of various kinds:  see the bookburning in Fahrenheit
for just one example).  And surely you do not put PF in the boat with 400B?
   Michael Crichton was an MD--still is--as was--and is--Jonathan
Miller.  There's a contrast!  Crichton's WESTWORLD doesn't belong in the
festival with 400 Blows, sorry.  And Crichton's novels are certainly
popular, and in some sense coherent, but they don't belong, either, with
the kind of material Truffaut admired (Renoir, Nick Ray) or with Orson
   I don't mean to be affronting here.  But I really would like to hear
what you have to say about a film I know and care about (along with many
other people), like, for instance, Kane, before I commit to reading what
you have to say about Pulp Fiction.  This is *not* because I'm
ostracizing Pulp Fiction.  Indeed, I'm reserving judgment, a process made
exceptionally difficult by the kind of verbal meandering that's going on
on these screens.
Murray Pomerance
>                         |"I'm a
multi-faceted, talented, wealthy,
>       Shawn Levy        | internationally famous genius.  I have an
>   [log in to unmask]   | IQ of over 190.  People don't like that."
>                         |                       -- Jerry Lewis