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The RhapsodesHow 1940s Critics Changed American Film Culture$
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David Bordwell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226352176

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226352343.001.0001

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A Newer Criticism

A Newer Criticism

(p.20) 2 A Newer Criticism
The Rhapsodes

David Bordwell

University of Chicago Press

Two issues dominated intellectual culture of the Rhapsodes’ period: Left-wing politics and the power of popular culture. The four critics considered in the book did not push a political line, and their tastes were not dictated by ideology. While Marxists considered popular culture as a mechanism for distracting and misleading the masses, these critics responded directly to the appeals and faults of the films before them. They thrust back more vigorously at the emerging school of sociological criticism that saw the movie screen as a neutral backdrop for national character or a miasmic Zeitgeist. Their close attention to the films gave them a better sense of what Hollywood could do than did the rote denunciations of intellectuals who saw cinema as merely an arm of the “culture industry.”

Keywords:   Otis Ferguson, James Agee, Manny Farber, Parker Tyler, Theodor Adorno, David Reisman, popular culture, mass culture, Hollywood, American communism, Partisan Review

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