September 7th, 2007

Otis Ferguson, writer

This evening I was haranguing Dave over at skyecaptain's lounge on the subject of Otis Ferguson, and I promised him I'd post a couple of Ferguson passages that happen to be in my files, Ferguson being the greatest film critic ever, so here they are. I had them on my computer not particularly for their ideas but so I could study their rhetorical devices any time I found my own writing tiring out. The first passage is great prose but is simply an introductory couple of paragraphs so doesn't have as much critical meat as the second, which is also a great bit of writing but is just as great criticism. It merely recounts the history of a project and then summarizes a plot, but the summary is a virtuoso dance at the expense of plot conventions, hitting the marks with comic precision that makes them absurd, but with a delight in the absurdity, and with an energy that the movies of his time seem to authorize, the bad ones as well as the good (maybe the bad better than the good).

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