You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet: The American Talking Film: History & Memory, 1927-1949

By Andrew Sarris | Go to book overview

5
Guilty Pleasures

THE B- PICTURE

Let us now praise the B-picture. But what is it exactly? Or, rather, what was it? In an age of inflation and instant insights, there is nothing on the screen to which we can point and say: This is a B-picture. A Z-movie, perhaps, but not a B-picture. There is too much ambition at one end, too little craftsmanship at the other, and the bottom has fallen out of the middle. Nor is there today in the nineties any genre lowly enough to be dismissed out of hand by the critical establishment. Kungfu, porn (soft-core and hard-core), Damon and Pythias squad-car serenades, revisionist westerns, regressive Disneys, black-power fantasies, disaster and doomsday spectacles: all have their sociological and even stylistic rationales. The snobberies that afflicted supposedly serious film criticism in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s have been superseded in more recent decades by an open-mindedness that errs on the side of credulity. Another problem in finding a B-picture in the present is that the notion of the A-picture is more nebulous than ever, and you can't have Bpictures without A-pictures. Indeed, with the disappearance of the predetermined double feature in the seventies, it became hard even to remember the once familiar refrain: I liked the second feature better than the main one." Nowadays a double feature is more likely to consist of two failed A-pictures, with the older one on the bottom of the bill.

-466-

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You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet: The American Talking Film: History & Memory, 1927-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgement vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Hollywood Studios 22
  • 2 - Genres 31
  • 3 - The Directors 130
  • 4 - Actors and Actresses 374
  • 5 - Guilty Pleasures 466
  • Appendix I - Academy Awards: Nominations and Winners, 1927-1949 497
  • Appendix II - New York Film Critics Circle Awards, 1935-1949 513
  • Appendix III - Best Directors, 1927-1949 515
  • Appendix IV - Best Performances, 1929-1949 527
  • Index of Films 537
  • Index of Names 553
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