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Stanley Kauffmann Tribute: "A Masterpiece Every Week!"

In the early 1960s, when I was an undergraduate, I first began reading Stanley Kauffmann in The New Republic, and I got pulled into his eloquent enthusiasms for the exciting new art coming to the States from Italy, France, Sweden, Japan, and Eastern Europe. “There was a masterpiece almost every week!” I heard him exclaim about ten years ago—a little hyperbolically, perhaps, but it felt that way at the time. If I may put it a little baldly, Stanley electrified educated people with the news that movies had become one of the high arts again, and that there were contemporary works—by Bergman, Truffaut, Antonioni, and many other directors—the equal of the masterpieces of the silent era. At the same time, he fought unfailingly, then and forever after, against kitsch of every kind—people are still quoting his disdain for such movies as Judgment at Nuremberg. (“I was castigated for my review of On the Beach, with the implication that anyone who found faults in the film was anti-peace. Prepared now to be thought pro-Nazi, I have to point out that [Stanley] Kramer is simply one more 'spectacular' producer who treats social-political matters with the same Hollywood Apparat as if he were making a damp domestic drama: star-studded casts, irrespective of aptness role; ingenuity to keep the script within mass-digestion limits; and 'big studio' camera treatment of important players.”)  In all, an invaluable critic.

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