PRINT January 1983


The worst films I’ve ever seen, the ones that send me to sleep, contain ten or fifteen marvellous minutes. The best films I’ve ever seen only contain ten or fifteen valid minutes.

—Man Ray, 1951

Who has failed to detect the note of avuncular senility in the writings of our most powerful film critics, as they wax on about the Important Films in their lives? As they recall the “quintessential and atypical,” the “good but not great,” the “stylish but not powerful,” the “powerful but not stylish”? To paraphrase the Surrealist obsequies for Anatole France: once these stiffs are finally dead I propose we nail them up in a box with copies of “those films they loved so much” and dump the whole insipid mess in the East River. Whether or not these messages from Planet Debby are indeed Works of Art, bearing the stamp of a single consciousness, we fling ourselves into their substance in the dark

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