It has been moderately amusing to see the fine likes of Michael Hayde and Joe Migliore waste their time this week trying to talk sense and facts into the general arrogance and ignorance of various folk in that ancient, dead thread on “Smashing the Agee Pantheon”. We obviously had another James Agee worshipper who got brainwashed in College that Agee (always a darling of the academics, another short-lived Southern Alcoholic Depressive whose meager canon of work was ignored by the “intelligencia” when he was alive but was happily proselytized and analyzed to death once he was dead, very overrated, after all, he was mostly just a critic don’t forget) was God and who obviously wasn’t bright enough to “get” Harry Langdon or do enough actual research to know how to talk about him, not that that stopped him. He was also apparently enough of a literary snob to devote a site to Donald Westlake but refuse to consider him a “great writer” or whatever. Hell, I will read all of Donald Westlake’s work again twice before I ever read Agee again.
And then there’s that comedy “expert” Neibaur……….does anyone really care what he thinks about anything? Yet you have to chuckle to read him use terms like “gaggle of ubergeeks who gather and watch 16mm movies in their basement” (as opposed to, what? undergeeks who sit in their hovels watching DVD’s of silent comedies, then crank out weekly books of under-researched “opinion” from what they see there? Hmmm, and I think such “undergeeks” need to thank those “ubergeeks” for much of the material that turns up on those DVD’s to begin with) or referring to “fringe comedy buffs” as if he isn’t one of them (or the textbook example of one).
It is total nonsense to think that, on the basis of one Blu-Ray release, we can better assess the Sennett films than certainly Walter Kerr and probably James Agee as well could. Kerr had access to most of the major New York film collectors of the time, he saw plenty of fine Sennett prints (including most likely, some of the prints actually utilized on the set) and what he wrote about was based on what he saw. Kerr suffered that standard East-Coast Intellectual snobbery that has unfortunately tainted a lot of film history writing, both academic and otherwise, and it shows through in decent chunks throughout THE SILENT CLOWNS, and running him a hundred more Sennett comedies was unlikely to remove that filter he saw them through.
Again, all a lot of hot air from some gasbags, and wasted time on the part of the mafians who took part, but it is fun to see that Gebert still worries about our takes on his silly little site as he whispers “quiet please, please, HE might hear you!” . Then he comes over and counts the number of words I write…..must mean something to him…..weird.
RICHARD M ROBERTS