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Train Loads of Ammunition

Philip Horne, 1 August 1985

Immoral Memories 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Herbert Marshall.
Peter Owen, 292 pp., £20, June 1985, 0 7206 0650 0
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A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980 
by Robert Ray.
Princeton, 409 pp., £48.50, June 1985, 0 691 04727 8
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by David Thomson.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 52014 1
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Cahiers du Cinéma. Vol. I: The 1950s. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge with the British Film Institute, 312 pp., £16.95, March 1985, 0 7100 9620 8
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... suggests both the magical power of Hollywood, and its less than democratic creative constitution. Robert Ray’s A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980 (its title playing on a controversial 1954 piece about the French cinema by François Truffaut in Cahiers du Cinéma) is the work of an intelligent American lover of American films engaging ...

Homage to Satyajit Ray

Salman Rushdie, 8 March 1990

Satyajit RayThe Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,’ Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road), and it’s true: this movie, made for next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was learning (and making up) the rules as he went along, is a work of such lyrical and ...

Hard Beats and Spacey Bleeps

Dave Haslam, 23 September 1993

Will Pop Eat Itself? Pop Music in the Soundbite Era 
by Jeremy J. Beadle.
Faber, 269 pp., £7.99, June 1993, 9780571162413
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Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture 
edited by Anthony DeCurtis.
Duke, 317 pp., £11.95, October 1992, 0 8223 1265 4
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... bigger and more significant revolution than punk: this is a wholesale reappraisal of pop music. As Robert Ray writes, in his illuminating essay in Present Tense: ‘Sampling and sequencing, go the current complaints, make musicians unnecessary ... we can detect here the historical complaint against every new technology and every avant-garde movement that ...

Three Poems

Robert Crawford, 4 November 2004

... crab. I, pink flower mantis. I, swallowtail. I, prairie dog. I, locust. I, capercailzie. I, manta ray. I, rattlesnake. I, sycamore. I, manatee. I, honeybee. I, saddleback. I, lamprey. I, coelocanth. I, okapi. I, salmon. I, snapper. I, fire. I, anolis lizard. I, orchid. I, tree ...

Much of a Scramble

Francesca Wade: Ray Strachey, 23 January 2020

A Working Woman: The Remarkable Life of Ray Strachey 
by Jennifer Holmes.
Troubador, 392 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 1 78901 654 3
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... Ray Strachey​ is remembered, if at all, for The Cause, her history of the women’s movement, published in 1928. But reading that book – which is dedicated to Strachey’s friend and mentor Millicent Garrett Fawcett – you wouldn’t know that its writer played a major role in the events described at the end, when an ‘almost religious fervour … sent young ladies to street corners to demand the vote’, and to pledge ‘their whole lives to the Cause ...


Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush, 22 January 2004

by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... heartland of the global American imperium. Except for Jane and Paul Bowles in Morocco, only Robert Stone and Joan Didion suggest themselves, and neither of them is associated closely with any one setting. On the whole, American writers seem convinced that the vital features of their society are most clearly discernible at its centre, even though it is ...

Rosy Revised

Robert Olby: Rosalind Franklin, 20 March 2003

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA 
by Brenda Maddox.
HarperCollins, 380 pp., £20, June 2002, 0 00 257149 8
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... project to Franklin, who, unlike the rest of the unit’s staff, was experienced in the use of X-ray crystallography (albeit on amorphous substances), but he hadn’t reckoned with the personal repercussions of his decision. In other respects the outcome was very successful. Within a year, Franklin and Gosling had established the existence of two ...

The Right to Murder

Gaby Wood: ‘In a Lonely Place’, 22 March 2018

In a Lonely Place 
by Dorothy B. Hughes.
NYRB, 224 pp., $14.95, August 2017, 978 1 68137 147 4
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In a Lonely Place 
directed by Nicholas Ray.
Criterion Collection, £14.99
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... it mean for a romance to take the shape of a murder investigation? In a Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray’s elegantly bitter film about damaged trust, throws that question at its viewers. If all love stories are inquiries of one kind or another, the movie seems to suggest, perhaps they differ only in their relative violence. When filming began, ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... For example: Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, James Wong Howe, Dudley Nichols, Clifford Odets, Robert Rossen, John Garfield, Charlie Chaplin and Leo McCarey all attended a reception in July 1943 for the Soviet director and administrator Mikhail Kalatozov. At that time Russian and American propaganda methods dovetailed nicely, and everyone seemed to approve ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bookshops, 14 December 2000

... into either ‘left-hand-drive’ or ‘made in Japan’. It wasn’t like that in the days when Ray Monk ran the philosophy section of Waterstone’s on the Charing Cross Road. At the time, Monk was also writing his Life of Wittgenstein; these days he doesn’t need to work in a bookshop. Not so Robert Topping, for 12 ...

The Lazarus Taxa

John Burnside, 5 February 2015

... them, As if the earth in one unlooked-for favour Had made them certain earth returned their love. Robert Frost If anything is safe to love, it is the jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, that pink and silver moon-cloud, drifting wild in every harbour from the South Atlantic to the Bay of Reykjavik; or Hippocampus, monstrous to the Greeks, though shaped like ...

Toto the Villain

Robert Tashman, 9 July 1992

The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... out Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion for praise, but he would have done well to explain why it is Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow who provides the emotional anchor. ‘That “Over the Rainbow”,’ Rushdie writes, ‘came close to being cut out of the movie is well known, and proof positive that Hollywood makes its masterpieces by accident, because it simply does ...

Out of His Furrow

William Poole: Milton, 8 February 2007

Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity 
by Gordon Teskey.
Harvard, 214 pp., £21.95, March 2006, 0 674 01069 8
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... Sprinklings of pseudo-Hebrew here and there added to the mystique. When the former army chaplain Robert Bacon visited the ‘Shakers’ God’, John Robins, in London in around 1650, he found Robins sitting on a bed before his disciples speaking in tongues: ‘But the words he spake I did not understand, only they seemed to me to be a mixture of Latin, and ...

Traffaut’s Heroes

Richard Mayne, 4 September 1980

The Films in My Life 
by François Truffaut, translated by Leonard Mayhew.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1322 3
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... his American heroes – including not only Lubitsch, Hawks, Hitchcock and Orson Welles, but also Robert, Aldrich, Frank Tashlin, Robert Wise and Nicholas Ray. Characteristically, his best remarks about them home in on technique. ‘Hitchcock’s mastery of the are grows greater with each ...

Looking for Imperfection

Gilberto Perez: John Cassavetes, 23 August 2001

John Cassavetes: Lifeworks 
by Tom Charity.
Omnibus, 257 pp., £10.95, March 2001, 0 7119 7544 2
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Cassavetes on Cassavetes 
edited by Ray Carney.
Faber, 526 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 571 20157 1
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... toward sex but from the European assumption (found lingering in the work of Americans like Robert Altman) that the scent of documentary can and should be allowed to flavour a fictional method.’ Lane is thinking of American cinema as Hollywood. But there is a strong tradition of American documentary, from ...

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