Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Morning Reading: Oscar Edition

This month's Atlantic Monthly reprints Raymond Chandler's "Oscar Night in Hollywood, which originally appeared in fifty years ago in March 1948.

Chandler has a lot to say, including this:

The motion picture admittedly is faced with too large a mass; it must please too many people and offend too few, the second of these restrictions being infinitely more damaging to it artistically than the first. The people who sneer at the motion picture as an art form are furthermore seldom willing to consider it at its best. The insist upon judging it by the picture they saw last week or yesterday; which is even more absurd (in view of the sheer quantity of production) than to judge literature by last week's best-sellers, or the dramatic art by even the best of the current Broadway hits. In a novel you can still say what you like, and the stage is free almost to the point of obscenity, but the motion picture made in Hollywood, if it is to create art at all, must do so within such strangling limitations of subject and treatment that it is a blind wonder it ever achieves any distinction beyond the purely mechanical slickness of a glass and chromium bathroom. If it were merely a transplanted literary or dramatic art, it certainly would not. The hucksters and the bluenoses would between them see to that...

To read the piece in its entirety, click here;

(Pictured above - Raymond Chandler, in plaid, looking pleased with himself and Billy Wilder, admiring, skeptical, exasperated. They collaborated in 1944, adapting Cain's "Double Indemnity" for the screen.)

1 comment:

Michelle Panik O'Neill said...

Many thanks for posting these local literary events, Lisa. I was at Squaw Valley last year and found Ron Carlson's take on writing really helpful. I came up from San Diego today to hear him speak at UCI.

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