New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, (1956). Pocket paperback, measuring 6.5 x 4.25: , 216, . Original color-printed wrappers, priced at 50 cents. Light shelfwear, text block toned and brittle.
First edition of this midcentury anthology, containing the first appearance of film critic Pauline Kael’s manifesto “Movies, the Desperate Art.” Published while Kael was struggling to manage a two-screen art house in Berkeley, this essay predates her hiring at The New Yorker by a dozen years. The concerns that dominate Kael’s later criticism are already evident in this early salvo: her contempt for bland, bloated studio productions; her attraction to “individual creative responsibility” in directors and actors; her distrust of overtly moralizing and edifying pictures; and her celebration of the movies as “an extraordinary education of the senses.” Most notably, she insists on taking the movies seriously, however “desperate” that art may be: “Object to the Hollywood film and you’re an intellectual snob, object to the avant-garde films and you’re a Philistine. But, while in Hollywood, one must often be a snob; in avant-garde circles one must often be a Philistine.” Other contributors to the anthology include Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud, Leslie Fiedler, and R.W.B. Lewis. A near-fine copy.