When Shoeshine opened in 1947, I went to see it alone after one of those terrible lovers’ quarrels that leave one in a state of incomprehensible despair. I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, “Well, I don’t see what was so special about that movie.” I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt for those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine...Later I learned that the man with whom I had quarreled had gone the same night and had also emerged in tears. Yet our tears for each other and for Shoeshine did not bring us together. Life, as “Shoeshine” demonstrates, is too complex for facile endings.
Two recent books on Pauline Kael offer reminders of a sensual critical style that transformed American cinephilia. My review of both can be found over at Cinespect. The review is extremely lucky to have photos of Kael from Robin Holland and Jill Krementz, which they are kindly allowing us to use, and for which I say a very grateful THANK YOU. Special thanks, too, to the fabulous CINESPECT team, whose choice of film stills and layout wizardry transformed the piece, and thrill me whenever I scroll through it. Their editing prowess on my prose also made it so much better-- you all are the best!