Remember when film criticism was a blood sport?
Michael Powell's great piece on Andrew Sarris, aging defender of the auteur theory of film criticism, ran in last Sunday's New York Times.
Back in the day, Sarris did battle, in print and sometimes in person, with the likes of John Simon and Pauline Kael.
“We were so gloriously contentious, everyone bitching at everyone,” said Andrew Sarris, 81, nattily attired in gray slacks and a blue sport jacket, his hair slicked back. “We all said some stupid things, but film seemed to matter so much.”
"In his first review for The Voice in 1960, of “Psycho,” he threw down the gauntlet in service of a commercial director, Alfred Hitchcock. Mr. Sarris was characteristically assertive. “Hitchcock is the most daring avant-garde filmmaker in America today,” he wrote. “Besides making previous horror films look like variations of ‘Pollyanna,’ ‘Psycho’ is overlaid with a richly symbolic commentary on the modern world as a public swamp in which human feelings and passions are flushed down the drain.” "
Read more here.