PRINT September 1971

On Negative Space

FIRST, IF NOT FOREMOST, Manny Farber is a connoisseur—excruciatingly knowing and hilarious—of movie jinks. He is able to calibrate the precise moral and spatial differences between Hawks and Huston, Sturges and Capra. Panofsky once said that if the connoisseur may be a laconic art historian, the historian is a loquacious connoisseur. One will find history of a sort (and unintended), in Farber’s finally collected essays, Negative Space (Praeger, $7.95): the history since the forties of most conceivable hang-ups, suavities, and euphorias of the fetishy, florid American film industry. But it is delivered to us in a shortterm, yet nonstop, impressionistic prose whose subject—celluloid action—is zeroed in upon as if by a penlight. Loquacious about small, telling physical things, Farber is laconic concerning how they add up to a STATEMENT, still less a message. Yet, for all that he is voluptuous

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