Andrew Sarris Remembrance

THE ARRIVAL IN MY LIFE of Film Culture 28 in the spring of 1963, with Andrew Sarris’s preliminary sorting out of American movie directors that became the basis for his greatly expanded The American Cinema (published in 1968), was one of those before and after moments. It’s hard even to reconstruct what it was like to have the past of American film suddenly spread out, a map of a country known previously only through rumor and fragmentary glimpses. Not just a map: a map accompanied with pointed commentary by a guide at once passionate and endlessly curious. It was all so exotic then. The very titles of the movies seemed like a strange kind of recovered poetry. But it was our own past, a lost world of universal neighborhood experience that had been occulted and buried. He pointed out things that I didn’t know existed and argued persuasively for their importance. Rarely had there been such a cascade of information and insights and urgently communicated judgments.

andrew sarris, 1928–2012
O’Brien, Geoffrey. Stolen Glimpses, Captive Shadows