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Andrew Sarris Persists and Endures

A number of websites, including Movie City News and Sean P. Means’s “Movie Cricket” blog in the Salt Lake Tribune (where Andrew is named “Number 57” among “The Departed”), have been reporting that Andrew Sarris has been fired from the New York Observer.  Not true, says Molly Haskell.  Andrew, along with a dozen other writers at the rapidly sinking weekly, was taken off staff on Monday, but he will continue to write on a freelance basis, exactly as Rex Reed does currently.  Not great news, but — particularly in the current context — not a catastrophe.  Andrew’s day job, teaching at Columbia University, is not in danger.

30 comments to Andrew Sarris Persists and Endures

  • Mike Grost

    This is wonderful news that Andrew Sarris will keep publishing.
    Andrew Sarris is my idol.
    The debt everyone in modern culture owes Andrew Sarris is incalculable.

  • Praise the heavens. I guess they were just sick of paying him annually? Not the nicest move, but at least we’re not deprived of his indispensable writing.

    Thanks for making my day a bit brighter!

  • Now, if only someone could correct that Rex Reed problem….

  • I am relieved to hear this news. Thanks for letting everyone know.

  • David Poland

    Well… this has been the scam run by publishers for years now. Dumping benefits and not the writer.

    What we measure is the job… is there a full-time criticism job out there anymore… and now, there are none at The Observer. I am pleased that he will freelance and I think your addition to the knowledge of what’s actually happening is important.

    Perhaps we need new language for all of this. How about: NY Observer Keeps Milk, Freelances Cow? This situation cuts Sarris’ pay in half, eliminating all the costs of keeping a full-time staffer, which is the goal.

    Obviously, internet hires are also relatively benefits free. So the line of hypocrisy gets closer for employers like me.

    All interesting…

  • So true, Mr. Poland. Another actual job has gone up in smoke, and this will clearly be the trend for some time to come as more and more papers look toward eliminating those pesky FTEs. Sean’s list is soon going to be much longer than Schindler’s.

  • Peter Henne

    I assume Andrew Sarris is offered health benefits through his university post. I’m glad to know his teaching job is not in danger.

  • Mark Ising

    Twenty years ago, how many people outside of the academy were able to make a steady living writing about movies? Have most of those jobs disappeared in the past twenty years? How many of the jobs that haven’t disappeared yet are likely to soon?

  • nicolas saada

    Teaching film is a dream: I always thought that film studies should be associated to the study of painting and form in general. I gues it’s my old obsession with Elie Faure who was the first art historian to write about film. But his approach was wonderful: he regarded film as a sort of follow up to the history of traditional figurative painting. Faure lost completely touch with contemporary art in the late 10’s but his theories were nurtutrned by the growing importance of the art of film. The real dream for me : make a film class that would start the semester with Veronese and end with Scorsese…

  • Tellos

    ‘The real dream for me : make a film class that would start the semester with Veronese and end with Scorsese…’

    Please NO!

  • nicolas saada

    Tell me more Tellos. I’d be interested. It was a provocation. But my overall feeling is that the art of seeing and looking at films is often disconnected from the history of form, which was shpaed through history of art. The best example of a formal approach to teh history of film can be seen in the documentaries on film by Martin Scorsese (and Kent Jones).
    I was taught film history by Michel Ciment, who also opened my eyes on the history of Painting. I rapidly connected the approach of writers like Faure, Focillon, Berenson or Zeri with that of Sarris, Daney, Schrader and Durgnat. “The family tree of film noir” is to me one of the greatest pieces of writing on film ever published.

  • Tellos

    ‘The best example of a formal approach to the history of film can be seen in the documentaries on film by Martin Scorsese’ (?!?)

    I also strongly believe that the art of seeing and looking at films should be associated with the history of form, but a film class that starts with Veronese and ends with…(the films or the documentaries on film by) Scorsese is -at least for me- aesthetically problematic. Imagine also: a film class that starts with Masaccio and ends with…George Lucas. The ideal teacher for this class: not Faure but Žižek.

  • nicolas saada

    Oh I see what you mean, and I am not in the “Zizk school of everything is related” routine. Faure made connections between painting, ballet and Chaplin for instance. I was referring to the wonderfil documentaries on American and Italian cinema and on JacquesTourneur. They give a very cohesive and exciting approach to film as form. Mr Scorsese is mone of my favorite directors of all time. I have no aesthetical problems with him at all.

  • nicolas saada

    Mr Scorsese is ONE of my favorite directors of all time

  • Stephen Cone

    Nicolas, have you seen the SHUTTER ISLAND trailer? It’s…somethin’. Threw me for a loop. I, for one, am excited. Some folks have declared him in CAPE FEAR mode, and I see echoes of LAST TEMPTATION and the very underrated BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, but for the most part he seems to be in new territory.

  • Brian Dauth

    The trailer made me think of SHOCK CORRIDOR.

  • Stephen Cone

    Brian, good call. I’d bet real money Fuller was on his mind throughout. Looking forward.

  • Thanks for taking the time to provide this information, Dave, it is heartily welcome.

  • Blake Lucas

    Nicholas – the excellent documentary by Kent Jones (and Martin Scorsese) you say is on Tourneur is actually on Val Lewton. An understandable error I guess, and either man is worth a documentary. It was nice to see a little footage of Tourneur himself within that film.

    A documentary on Tourneur would certainly be welcome. He wouldn’t be as dramatic a subject I suppose, but on film analysis of the subtleties of his style could be illuminating, and there would be the chance to see how an artist like this approaches different genres.

  • Blake Lucas

    Meantime, can’t recommend enough to anyone interested in Tourneur to read Chris Fujiwara’s book on him THE CINEMA OF NIGHTFALL, an exceptional director study.

  • Jaime

    It looks like BRAND UPON THE BRAIN.

  • Kent Jones

    Blake, I should point out that Saada was the one who told me about the Tourneur footage in the first place and facilitated our usage of it in the film.

  • Dale Wittig

    Jaime, I wouldn’t be so surprised to find Scorsese allowing himself to be influenced by Maddin, considering that he was an early admirer of the other’s work. In fact, at one point, Scorsese was going to play Paul Cox’s role, Count Knotkers, in Careful.

  • Jaime

    Oh, no surprise here. I think everyone who peruses this blog regularly is aware that – regardless of what we think of his films – he’s a true-blue cinephile.

    The other film SI reminds me of is Scott Derrickson’s rather underrated EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. Also the work of Thomas Ligotti, although this film will likely be a lot more prosaic than Ligotti’s stories, which almost never settle into the “explicable.”

  • Blake Lucas

    It occurred to me that the erudite Nicolas Saada might have hastily written Tourneur’s name instead of Lewton’s. But not everyone has seen MAN IN THE SHADOWS and might not know of it it so seemed worth posting that correction anyway.

    Also gave me a chance to speculate about how interesting a Tourneur docu might actually be.

    Anyway, thanks, Nicolas, for providing that footage of Tourneur for the film. I had never seen him and appreciated the chance very much.

  • Nick Digilio

    Completely off topic, but Dave have you seen The Hurt Locker? Oh. My. God.

  • nicolas saada

    Of coure, I was referringtote val lewton documentary. Simply captivating.A realdeparture from the tcm special routine.

  • Jim Gerow

    A programming note for Tourneurphiles: ANNE OF THE INDIES is showing Thursday morning on Fox Movie Channel (not sure of the exact time–check your local listings as they used to say in the analog age).

  • Blake Lucas

    Jim, I can’t recommend ANNE OF THE INDIES enough. This and his other Fox film WAY OF A GAUCHO are both among Tourneur’s half-dozen best IMO (I count myself lucky to have seen original Technicolor 35 prints of both which surely helped) and am emphasizing the point because all my other favorites of Tourneur were already mentioned by others. These two are very unusual films of their type–the heroine in ANNE (Jean Peters) is one of a kind and though there have been belated attempts to do female pirates in the feminist era none of them have been has come close to it. Even more impressive is the muted drama of the climactic scene outside a church in WAY OF A GAUCHO, involving Rory Calhoun, Gene Tierney, and Calhoun’s enemy Richard Boone. This impressed me even as a boy (it was the first Tourneur I saw) and still does–its reflective aspect in a film like this is so representative of what is great about Tourneur; even though he may not have written it, it was made for him and no one else to direct with the supreme beauty he brings to it. In Fujiwara’s book there is a wonderful still from this scene (p.206) in which
    Chris describes it (in a brilliant reference):
    “Not reconciled.”

  • Mike

    Andrew Sarris is 80? I just learned that on another thread here. So what’s the big deal? Oh, give me a break. How long is he supposed to go on? I know, I know. Kaufmann is, what, 95? How about these guys being generous and stepping aside to give someone else a chance while the media is still employing movie critics? Talk about narcissistic!