The films directed by Mervyn LeRoy (Quo Vadis, Million Dollar Mermaid, Rose Marie, Mister Roberts, The FBI Story, The Devil at 4 O’Clock, A Majority of One, Gypsy, Mary, Mary) were very popular in their time with mainstream ticket buyers. Some of the go-along critics liked them as well, but for some reason no one today even speaks of these films, much less admiringly. And I’ll bet there’s some connection between this and the fact that the tough critics of the ’50s and early ’60s didn’t think very much of them.
James Stewart in Mervyn LeRoy’s The FBI Story (1958)
A culture needs tough critics to articulate standards. Even if those standards are seen as effete and elitist. Even if some critics are lonely, neurotic overweight drunks. Because the obsessions of the ones who know how to write are sometimes worth their weight in gold, which obviously means they’re certain to be read by future generations.
This is a point that the Brooklyn Rail’s Vincent Rossmeier seems to under-appreciate in his undated piece.
I asked this before but here goes again: who are the Mervyn LeRoys of today, Steven Spielberg Ron Howard and Michael Bay aside?