Last year, my friend Lee Tsiantis took me to have tea with Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris in their home. It was a beautiful afternoon, of which I will tell one thing only: At one point, I mentioned John Ford.
I will cherish my memory of the way Sarris' face lit up at the very sound of that name for the rest of my life.
Andrew Sarris, from the Partisan Review, No. 3, 1972--an issue dedicated to art, culture and conservatism. I found the journal second-hand a few years ago, and saved it for this passage alone.
As a film historian and working film critic, I find most contemporary articles on film to be reactionary and philistinish not so much because of ideological influences, but rather because of the lack of sympathetic insight and dedicated scholarship. When I read a piece on any subject, and especially on film, I do not ask myself if the writer is swinging to the right or the left, but rather if he is writing out of a genuine commitment to his subject...For myself, I remain wedded to the notion of narrative cinema, and that is a view that is regarded as very conservative in some quarters and quarterlies. I do not argue this view on the basis of a unified field theory for all the arts, but merely on the single level of cinematic expression, a unique amalgam of the objective (the camera) and the subjective (the mind behind the camera). And in no other art is the lure of pastness so vivid and compelling. No matter. Only the most naive radicalism insists that we forsake the past in order to claim the future. And only the most strident journalism demands immortal masterpieces every season.