Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kael of the Week: Scripts and Directors

A word of explanation: I’m re-reading Pauline Kael’s “For Keeps,” as anyone serious about film should every once in a while. The great thing about her stuff is how much of it is still completely relevant, so once a week, I’ll post a quote that caught my eye.

“Anyone who goes to big American movies like Grand Prix or The Sand Pebbles recognizes that movies with scripts like those don’t have a chance to be anything more than exercises in technology, and that this is what is meant by the decadence of American movies. In the past, directors used to say they were no better than their material. (Sometimes they said it when they weren’t even up to their material.) A good director can attempt to camouflage poor writing with craftsmanship and style, but ultimately no amount of director’s skill can conceal a writer’s failure; a poor script, even well directed, results in a stupid movie—as, unfortunately, does a good script poorly directed.”

-Review of Bonnie and Clyde, The New Yorker, 10/21/67

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