Greene’s Critical Moment

Sep 3, 2009

Around these parts, Graham Greene is best known as the brilliant British novelist who also wrote the screenplays for Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol and The Third Man. But even before he made film history with those unforgettable classics, he was writing about the state of contemporary film as a critic for the British newspaper the Spectator in the late 1930s. And according to Michael Atkinson in a new must-read article at Moving Image Source—and as evidenced by the passages from Greene’s writing quoted in the piece—he was as mellifluous and cutting a film reviewer as he was a storyteller, in fact “for a short while the best film critic writing in English.” As an added bonus, if you’ve never read Greene’s controversial excursus on Shirley Temple, Atkinson handily provides a bit of it.