Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, the big "news" this week has been the death of Manny Farber. In all the obits people are now writing, it's common (certainly, it is if you read Jonathan Rosenbaum) to call Manny Farber "America's greatest film critic". Certainly, Manny Farber was one of the most idiosyncratic and original of film critics. It's common to say that he prefigured the politique des auteurs, but that's ridiculous: Manny Farber never thought of those directors he championed in the 1950s (Raoul Walsh, Samuel Fuller, Howard Hawks) as "auteurs". He thought of them as craftsmen without the pretenses of "art" that directors like Elia Kazan or John Huston had attached to them.

I have more to say, but i'll begin by saying that he was one of those people who seemed to find themselves as teachers. He thrived on it: i think his tenure at the University of California/San Diego was a happy one. But i'll write more later.


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