Robert Jackson

This article provides an introduction to this special section of James Baldwin Review 7 devoted to Baldwin and film. Jackson considers Baldwin’s distinct approach to film criticism by pairing him with James Agee, another writer who wrote fiction as well as nonfiction in several genres, and who produced a large body of film criticism, especially during the 1940s. While Agee, a white southerner born almost a generation before Baldwin, might seem an unlikely figure to place alongside Baldwin, the two shared a great deal in terms of temperament and vision, and their film writings reveal a great deal of consensus in their diagnoses of American pathologies. Another important context for Baldwin’s complex relationship to film is television, which became a dominant media form during the 1950s and exerted a great influence upon both the mainstream reception of the civil rights movement and Baldwin’s reception as a public intellectual from the early 1960s to the end of his life. Finally, the introduction briefly discusses the articles that constitute this special section.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
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.

James Baldwin Review
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An enduring legacy
Editor: Erik Hedling

This book on Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman contains eighteen new scholarly chapters on the director’s work, mainly in the cinema. Most of the contributors—some Swedish, others American or British—have written extensively on Bergman before, some for decades. Bergman is one of the most written-about artists in film history and his fame still lingers all over the world, as was seen in the celebrations of his centenary in 2018. The book was specifically conceived at that time with the aim of presenting fresh angles on his work, although several chapters also focus on traditional aspects of Bergman’s art, such as philosophy and psychology. Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy thus addresses a number of essential topics which have not featured in Bergman studies before, such as the director’s relations with Hollywood and transnational film production. It also deals at length with Bergman’s highly sophisticated use of film music and with his prominence as a writer of autobiographical literature, as well as with the intermedial relations to his films that this perspective inevitably entails. Finally, the book addresses Bergman’s complex relations to Swedish politics. Many different approaches and methods are employed in the book in order to show that Bergman remains a relevant and important artist. The analyses generally focus on some of his most memorable films, like Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander; but some rarer material, including Hour of the Wolf, The Lie, and Autumn Sonata, is discussed as well.

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Sequence and the rise of auteurism in 1950s Britain
Erik Hedling

contemporaries all wrote sophisticated film criticism for Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s, in which Truffaut formulated the intellectual basis for auteurism, ‘La politique des auteurs’ in 1954, and Ingmar Bergman was an aspiring author of dramas, short stories and film scripts in Sweden in the early 1940s. 4 Britain and Sequence had, among others, Lindsay Anderson, the writer who would most eloquently formulate

in British cinema of the 1950s
Ian Mackillop and Neil Sinyard

visible on the landscape. In his essay on Raymond Durgnat Robert Murphy points out how film criticism can become outdated and its authors be time-bound. The academic manner aspires to a universality which time will show to be pitiful. As editors we do not think we can escape being locked into the period in which these essay were written and we freely confess it. We have tried to admit our time-determined nature by the small device

in British cinema of the 1950s
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The Admirable Crichton and Look Back in Anger
Stephen Lacey

and tensions. To explore this it is necessary, for a while, to go outside the 1950s, and away from film history, for film criticism and theory has been churlish about the theatrical in cinema; indeed, the inferiority felt by the film industry towards the theatre noted earlier is markedly absent. In theatre criticism, to note that a play is ‘cinematic’ is often to find something interesting in it, to

in British cinema of the 1950s
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An introduction
Erik Hedling

book’s first three chapters— Chapters 1 , 2 , and 3 —focus on Bergman’s standing in the world of film criticism and film production. The first chapter is written by Peter Cowie, a veteran Bergman scholar and specialist on Nordic cinema. Cowie wrote the first English-language biography on Bergman in the early 1980s. 23 He also provided the commentary for several Bergman films released by the Criterion Collection, first on laser disc and later on DVD and Blu-ray. Cowie’s chapter provides an overview of Bergman

in Ingmar Bergman
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The early British films of Joseph Losey
Neil Sinyard

because of the particular quality of these early films: it is also because their making and their reception have so much to say about what was going on at the time in film criticism. As Losey was having his titanic struggles with studios and actors and applying his outsider’s perspective on English mores (notably, sex and class), the films were also providing a focus and indeed a battleground for

in British cinema of the 1950s
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New retro movies in 1990s Hollywood cinema
Philip Drake

Hollywood’s fascination with retro perspectives derives from a commercial opportunism based upon nostalgia for selected and revised pasts and their connection to the present. History/period/retro Much film criticism makes the assumption that the representation of pastness is measurable against a retrievable original past to which it is to be compared. Thus many

in Memory and popular film
Open Access (free)
Royal weddings and the media promotion of British fashion
Jo Stephenson

BFC, and alongside both the city politics of London and the national politics of Great Britain. Although fashion film criticism is increasingly becoming more established, it has so far clung closely to fiction film. Fashion has traditionally been seen as a partner of storytelling rather than documentary or live broadcasting, and yet both the latter are also narrative media. Referring to Mary Ann Doane

in The British monarchy on screen