About Us

Contact Us


2001 Archives

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
World Travel
September Issue
October Issue
November Issue
December Issue
Feb 02 Issue
April 02 Issue
May 02 Issue
June02 Issue
July02 Issue
August 02 Issue
September 02
October 02

Alex Grant

Though almost 4 years "old" British film scholar David Quinlan’s 2nd edition of his DIRECTORS {1999} serves as a fascinating contrast to the 4th edition of David Thomson’s THE NEW BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF FILM { 2002 }which gives most emphasis to directors world-wide.

Quinlan’s first edition was published in 1983 and in the past two decades the role of film-director has been adversely downsized in the U.S. Most new features are directed by total tyros wet behind the ears and bullied non-stop by producers of every stripe. U.S. film was often a producer’s medium in the post-war years, but the excessive influence of agents-cum-producers in Hollywood in the ‘80s and thereafter has curbed the artistic ambitions of most established and up-&-coming directors.

Like so many British experts in the compilation of film dictionaries and encyclopaedias Quinlan is a conservative and a puritan with a deep-seated nostalgia for the various Golden Eras of international film. Leslie Halliwell was the arch-exponent of this very destructive ideology, a man with no patience for contemporary films, by which he meant ones made since 1960. Not that such Golden Ages exist only in the imagination, of course. Much such nostalgia depends wholly upon when the individual thrived on films as a teenager and a young adult, quite naturally, as those formative years as a "critic" are vitally important. I feasted on American movies in Britain in the Fifties – Fuller, Karlson, Mann (Anthony),Sturges (John) and Walsh and I ‘matured" amidst the various European "New Waves" of the Sixties – Bergman (Ingmar), Forman, Losey and Truffaut. David Thomson likewise I can assure you.

Such Golden Ages are by no means entirely imaginary yet much such nostalgia consists in the halcyon days when the commentator was a teenager and a young adult thriving on film, quite naturally.I feasted on American movies-Fuller, Karlson, Mann (Anthony), Sturges (John), Walsh et al in the late Fifties and on European "cinema" in the mid-Sixties- Bergman, Forman, Losey,Truffaut et al.Quinlan’s prime virtue rests upon his sincere and unfashionable respect for and profound knowledge of a wealth of minor British and American "minor" auteurs toiling in the ‘poorhouses’ of Hollywood production in the post-WW2 years. Men whom the late Manny Farber the populist male mirror-image of the late Pauline Kael once termed "termites" – solid unaffected team-members- as opposed to "white elephants"- pompous,trumpeting trunk waving pachydermsin musth.

Quinlan’s admirable awareness of the importance of pace, rhythm, nuance and sheer unembarrassed filmmaking gusto extends to such forgotten or derided exponents of pure cinema energy as Leslie Fenton { Whispering Smith, 1948).

© Alex Grant November 2002

More Reviews

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article

© Hackwriters 2002