"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

December 27, 2012

Most popular posts of 2012

I am not a great fan of "most popular" lists, especially not when they are not wholly reliable (the way Blogger counts is not very fine tuned), but as a year-end pastime, hereby the posts that I wrote in 2012 and that proved most popular:
  1. Forbidden Pre-Code Films. This post is by far the most popular, with almost double the clicks of No. 2. That I can understand: the years from 1929-1934 that Pre-Code films were made, were perhaps the most interesting years of Hollywood, a far cry from the politically correct, CGI-ridden, noisy but totally empty stuff that is churned out today (happily, we also have independent cinema and the cinemas of other countries).
  2. Best Short Stories by Arthur Schnitzler. I wrote this post because I deeply admire the literary works of Arthur Schnitzler and consider this Fin-deSiecle Viennese author a shamefully undervalued artist. I hope it may, even in a small way, help his stories find new readers... (Also see my post about Schnitzler's novella, Dream Story)
  3. Le Pere Goriot. A review of what is very much a classical novel. I wonder why this one rose to the top, for it is a rather tepid review; I am not such a great admirer of Balzac, finding him unrealistically romantic, and preferring Flaubert (see my posts about Madame Bovary and A Simple Soul) and De Maupassant (see my posts about The Maison Tellier and A Country Excursion, as well as Bel Ami below). 
  4. Screwball Comedies (1934-1942). Another period that Hollywood was still going strong. Censorship of American films introduced with The Hays Code in 1934, didn't lead to politically correct films (the start of a war was necessary for that) but to total zaniness and trying to find the borders of what was still allowed (or could slip through).
  5. Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant. This is indeed a novel that is great fun in its sharp satire of human society and its foibles. Warmly recommended, as is the whole oeuvre of De Maupassant, who stands unnecessarily in the shadow of his contemporaries - in his own time, the sexual content of his stories was too outspoken for Anglo-Saxon sensibilities, while in the 20th century on the other hand his stories were published as "naughty"(a kind of respectable pornography) in heavily mutilated translations. Time for a reappraisal.
  6. Heart of Darkness. This novella by Joseph Conrad has been a fast riser, as I only wrote it in November - it is the most recent post on the list, and deserves to be there for this is indeed one of the greatest books ever written.
  7. Classical Film Noir (1941-1958). The third delicious genre (besides the two mentioned above) to come out of Hollywood, thanks to the happy marriage between the all-American hard-boiled novel with German film technique from the 1920s and French existentialism.
  8. The Thin Man - book and film. I confess I do have a weakness for the continually imbibing Nick and Nora from Dashiel Hammet's novel and the film spin-off with William Powell and Myrna Loy - which is en passant the proof that it is possible to make good films from good books.
  9. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. This modern (2008) screwball comedy by Bhalat Nalluri is great fluffy fun and warmly recommended for brightening up your holiday season. But I also wrote reviews about films that are much nearer to my heart and I wonder why these did not come up (it may be simply that only few reviews exist about Miss Pettigrew) - for example, La Strada by Fellini, Belle de Jour and Tristana by Bunuel, The 400 Blows and other Antoine Doinel films by Truffaut, My Night at Maud's by Rohmerand even Rear Window by Hitchcock...
  10. Musical Films. I was not really a fan of musicals, but thanks to the Rough Guide to the Musical, which early in the year I picked up in a second-hand bookstore in Amsterdam, I have borrowed a stack of DVDs from my local Tsutaya, and was fascinated by the leggy dance choreographies of Bushby Berkeley, as well as by Cyd Charisse's love of silk stockings, the ice cold beauty of Grace Kelly, and the unscrupulous quest for a rich husband by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel...