Film Studies

An Essay

by David Thomson

David Thomson's gracefully swooping view of "the Silver Age" of film is at once a nostalgic revisiting of what threatens to be the last great chapter in American filmmaking and a brisk reassessment of some of its triumphs and limitations as seen from the perspective of a different century--one that is baptized in its infancy by the worst terrorist attack in American history and an economic debacle, the extent of which is yet to be determined. Thomson recalls the pungent assessments of Robert Warshow's The Immediate Experience, but of course Warshow managed to attain critical perspective without the benefit of time and distance. Still, one is grateful for a good read, especially on a day when it was announced in the news that the latest SAT scores in English for incoming college freshmen were the lowest in 40 years. As the saying goes, OMG!

Wow, this was a great read. Some of my favorite films in there are contextualized in film history with behind the scenes shadings. Very readable, a conversation I enjoyed being a part of. I especially appreciate the Altman comments, makes me want to watch The Long Goodbye again (and I have a shelf of Altman). I loved the book as well, but of course the film is different. I've been meaning to get the Godfather on disk since this rabid obsession began, watch it with my sons, because we love Sterling Hayden so much, and all the stars of the 40s, and there are a bunch in those films. I haven't picked them up yet, thinking blu will do it. But the other part of that is a hesitation. I've seen them many times, and the objections raised in this essay against their classification as ultimate-best-films is one I've sensed. Something about Altman, and especially the BBS stuff and Corman really send me, but of course I know I'll get them, see them for the tenth time, and love them. It just hasn't happened yet. Again, this was a great read. This may be my favorite era of film, for many of the reasons discussed.


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