Dwight MacDonald – Hangs it up as Esquire’s Movie Critic

When kitsch becomes not predominant – it has been for two hundred years – but monopolistic, then one finds that as the years go by one has already reviewed, under another title, almost every new film one sees. While a good movie is sui generis, so that one has to respond to it specifically and individually, bad movies fall into categories and, once one has dealt with the category, it is tedious to keep repeating the demonstration. I seem to have been making the same essential criticisms, for example, of anything-goes unfunny comedies from Zazie in 1961 to What’s New, Pussycat? last year and Morgan! last month. It gets tiresome. About all one can do with bad movies, after a while, is to treat them tangentially, as sociology or cultural history, but this isn’t criticism, and it also gets tiresome, for here, too there is repetition. I’ve said as much as I can, directly and tangentially, about those corny Biblical epics and about the “underground” school, and I cannot face having to grapple with any more of the same. I have been accused of “not liking movies,” which is nonsense: my difficulty is I like them too much so cannot bear to see the medium’s wonderful, infinite possibilities not used to the utmost; I still think as I did in the twenties that the cinema is the great modern art – potentially.

While I like to carp and complain, even for me there is a limit.

Dwight MacDonald, On Movies