A sanitised version of a great contrarian
The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael
edited by Sanford Schwartz
The Library of America, US$40 hb, 852 pp, 9781598531091
Pauline Kael did not shy away from big statements. She said that the release date of Last Tango in Paris would be as historically resonant as the night The Rite of Spring had its première, and she described Fiddler On the Roof as a movie of operatic power. As a film reviewer at the New Yorker from 1967 to 1991, she was a significant cultural figure, particularly in the 1970s, when her influence was at its height. It is for her extremes that Kael was celebrated and feared, for her exuberantly adversarial prose, and for the ferocious expression of her cinematic loves and hates.