A Hollywood Love Story (as Written by James Baldwin)
D. Quentin Miller
Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work (1976) has proven challenging since its publication because readers and critics have trouble classifying it. The challenge may be related to a common feature of Baldwin criticism, namely a tendency to compare late career works to early ones and to find them lacking: the experimental nature of later works of nonfiction like No Name in the Street (1972), The Devil Finds Work, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985) does not square easily with the more conventional essays that made Baldwin famous in his early years. I attempt to reframe The Devil Finds Work not through a comparison to other Baldwin essays, but rather through a comparison to his fiction, specifically the novel Giovanni’s Room. I posit that a greater appreciation for Devil can result from thinking of it as a story, specifically the story of a failed love affair.
As a technology able to picture and embody the temporality of the past, cinema has become central to the mediation of memory in modern cultural life. The memory of film scenes and movies screens, cinema and cinema-going, has become integral to the placement and location of film within the cultural imagination of this century and the last. This book is a sustained, interdisciplinary perspective on memory and film from early cinema to the present. The first section examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The second section examines the politics of memory in a series of chapters that take as their focus three pivotal sites of national conflict in postwar America. This includes the war in Vietnam, American race relations and the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of marginality in the geographic and cultural borderlands of the US. The book explores the articulation of Vietnam. The final section concentrates on the issue of mediation; it explores how technological and semiotic shifts in the cultural terrain have influenced the coding and experience of memory in contemporary cinema. It considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory. The book also examines the stakes of cultural remembering in the United States and the means by which memory has been figured through Hollywood cinema.
Sequence and the rise of auteurism in 1950s Britain
best of that. 30
Besides the refinement of the notion of cinematic
authorship, the apology for Americancinema was the most important
contribution to the discourse of criticism made by Sequence
(which in this regard places it with Cahiers du Cinéma ), a
reappraisal which was part of critical debate about cinema in the
1950s. 31 It is interesting
and its structures of belief, Memory and popular film is crucially
concerned with the questions of (American) cultural identity that derive
from this relationship.
The book is organised in three main sections. The first
section examines the relationship between official and popular history and
the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and
consumption of Americancinema. The four chapters in Part I
comedies and familiar cliché. Influenced by kitchen-sink theatre
and the new aspects of life around it, it was turning out vigorous,
outspoken films that reflected the new atmosphere, whereas Italian
cinema had gone in an almost opposite direction, changing radically from
its postwar realism to the smoothest of modern fantasies, a kind of
mannerist style and a newer realism of luxury. The Americancinema
Munich–Rome–Los Angeles, or ‘The last temptation of Ingmar Bergman’
Hollywood, rather like his somewhat younger colleagues Roman
Polanski and Milos Foreman had done, or as Louis Malle was to do at
about the same time: the mid-1970s saw Hollywood in crisis and in
transition, but with the emergence of the so-called New Hollywood and
its movie brats, it was also one of the most cinephile, experimental and
innovative times in Americancinema’s long history.
As I try to picture this moment in time, imagining
Bergman’s ‘last temptation’ rather than his
‘first seduction’, and endeavour to
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), pp. 37–57.
3 Andrew Sarris, ‘Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962’ in Gerald
Mast, Marshall Cohen and Leo Braudy (eds) Film Theory and
Criticism: Introductory Readings (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
4th edn, 1992), pp. 585–8.
C on c l u sio n
Th e ci nem a of Ol iver S to ne
4 Timothy Corrigan, ‘Auteurs and the New Hollywood’ in Jon Lewis
(ed), The New AmericanCinema (Durham, NC and London: Duke
University Press, 1998), p. 42.
5 James Riordan, Stone: The Controversies, Excesses, and Exploits of a
an allegory of his own situation (a hero trying to shake off his past and
make a new start) and injects an unashamed melodrama into the action that is
redolent of the radical Americancinema of the late 1940s. Patrick
McGoohan’s black-leather villainy in the film seems almost like a
conscious aping of Marlon Brando’s performance in The Wild One
(1954), which, for many of us at that time, would have been the nearest we
be a good
thing. As Gavin Lambert said at the time: ‘There is a splendour
about this film, which has one of the most absurdly extravagant plots on
record, and never flinches from it.’
As well as the energy of the visual style, what also
marks out Losey’s English films at this time is what one might
call his American ‘baggage’ – his background and early
experience in American
Oxford University Press, 1985.
43 Chris Darke, ‘Desert of the Disappeared’.
44 Martin-Jones, ‘Archival Landscapes and a Non-Anthropocentric
“Universe Memory”’, 707.
45 For a summary of this context, see Kaitlin M. Murphy, ‘Remembering
in Ruins: Touching, Seeing and Feeling the Past in Nostalgia De La
Luz/Nostalgia for the Light ( 2011).’ Studies in Spanish & Latin
AmericanCinemas 13, no. 3 (2016): 265–81.
46 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the
Sensible. Translated by Gabriel Rockhill. London: Continuum, 2004: 63.