Summer 2010


Tony Williams

I’ve long admired the writings of this author who worked in the realms of literature, screenwriting and film criticism throughout his distinguished career. Known for his major works such as Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, The Quiet American, The Comedians, The Honorary Consul as well as those he deemed “entertainments” including A Gun for Sale, The Confidential Agent, and The Ministry of Fear. Greene (1904-1991) embodied several contradictions within his own personality and fiction, already closely examined by many critics both in his lifetime and afterwards. Converted to Roman Catholicism, yet embodying a very progressive attitude to contemporary affairs (particularly seen in his remarks against the conservative Cardinal Ratzinger now firmly ensconced in the key position in what Greene described as the Vatican “Politburo”),1Greene’s writings embody an attractive mixture of blurring boundaries, highly developed wit, and caustic interrogation of elements of everyday life that far surpass the usual vulgar term “Greeneland,” suggesting his fascination with the sordid aspects of existence rather than confronting his readers with that part of the human condition and implicitly suggesting the necessity for change. 2The novelist often put on a performance of being a secret person similar to characters in his spy novels, one often contradicted by the various public acts such as letter writing and various appearances on the world stage. In 1968, I remember a BBC Omnibus program devoted to Greene as he traveled on the old Orient Express route in which he spoke about his writings but refused to appear in front of the camera.

He excelled in several other creative areas such as playwriting and screenwriting as well as his writing very pertinent letters to newspapers during his lifetime protesting one outrage or another. One of his plays, The Return of A.J. Raffles (1975), resurrects the amateur cracksman of E.W. Hornung’s novels portrayed on film and television by actors such as David Niven and Anthony Valentine whose presence still evoked a tinge of fearful recognition by British comedian Tony Hancock in one episode of his very successful BBC 1950s radio series Hancock’s Half Hour. In this play, Raffles’s bereaved partner Bunny finds that the cracksman has not only returned to life but also rallies to the aid of Lord Alfred Douglas in a revenge plot against the Marquis of Queensberry who was instrumental in sending Oscar Wilde to jail. This minor work is another of Greene’s pleasurable entertainments where he uses caustic wit against the British establishment in the same way that he will attack bad films he reviewed during his tenure as a film critic in the 1930s with justifiable sarcasm. Greene deliberately intended to be offensive and we should see no other reason in his approach than to raise reader awareness and champion a better type of cinema. If he offended establishment sensibilities, it was done in the spirit of those old restoration comedies and eighteenth century satire and we should see no other negative motivations in this goal. 3

The Master Spy as Metteur-en-Scene

On other occasions, as in his 1968 introduction to Kim Philby’s My Silent War, Greene could both offend the establishment with a sympathetic depiction of a “Third Man” who had followed his 1950s predecessors Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean into Soviet exile in Moscow as well as depict the imminent departure of that mysterious figure with well-known literary techniques involving concrete description. It is an introduction that is not as well known as Greene’s other reviews but one deserving emphasis. Here fiction and reality merge in a type of creative mixture characteristic of the author’s own brand of fiction.

Greene begins by noting that the latter part of Philby’s memoir, “the story he has to tell after the flight of Burgess and MacLean is far more gripping than any novel of espionage.”4So it is. Most of this memoir is tedious reading telling us little about Philby’s personal life and resembles the way he concealed his actual beliefs from fellow workers in the Secret Service. Philby writes of himself in the manner of an enigmatic code that defies any satisfactory type of solution. Although he unveils the class network and old-boy establishment attitudes of the British Secret Service that drove J. Edgar Hoover mad following the defection of Burgess and Maclean we learn noting about his various affairs and marriages. But the story builds up when the excitement of possible discovery enters the narrative and how Philby escapes by the skin of his teeth until he later decides to travel from Beirut to Moscow when arrest is imminent. “Fourth man” Anthony Blunt will not be discovered until a few decades later. However, far from criticizing Philby in the manner that contemporary British journalism did, Greene casts an analytic and sympathetic eye on the master spy in a manner far transcending ideological issues of the “national good” and patriotism. Rather than vilifying him as someone who let his own side down in a cricket match like disgraced Beau Geste, Philby is a very different figure for the author. Greene notes that the memoir contains no propaganda “unless a dignified statement of his beliefs and motives can be called propaganda.” (vii) Greene casts atheistic communist agent Philby in the role of a devoted Roman Catholic who remains in the faith no matter how much its contemporary practices challenge it. “In Philby’s own eyes, he was working for a shape of things to come from which his country would benefit.” (vii) The promise of the Bolshevik revolution tarnished by a Stalinism Philby could not name is very much to the forefront here in the same way as many progressive Catholics today hope that the ideals represented by Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council will not be totally reversed by someone once known as “the Pope’s rottweiler” who now occupies the Papal See and was known for his attempts to halt progressive ideas of theologians such as Hans Kung and engaged in sundry other issues of concealment now becoming appropriately widely known. As author and writer Greene balances many contradictions in his depiction of Kim Philby. A particular perspective is offered but one resistant to another alternative, namely that of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International. This is not unique since many Communists still revere the Soviet Union despite its faults in the same way that Catholics follow the dictates of Mother Church despite the fact that its errors are now common knowledge.

Greene further notes the logical fanaticism of a man who “having once found a faith, is not going to lose it because of the injustices and cruelties inflicted by erring human instruments…If there was a Toquemada now, he would have known in his heart that one day, there would be a John Paul XXIII.” (vii). Fortunately, Greene did not live to see his detested Cardinal Ratzinger as today’s Pope Benedict. Had he done so, one wonder whether his attitude would echo the one he voiced to his friend Leopoldo Duran concerning the possible re-election of Ronald Reagan as President, namely joining the Communist Party in protest. Greene never did so but today he would find neither the Soviet Union nor a viable Communist Party in existence. In his day Philby saw no other alternative to the reactionary and stagnant era of a Conservative government represented by Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin. Nor could he join the chorus of those such as Arthur Koestler and Malcolm Muggeridge who wailed that the movement let “me” down and failed “me.” For Greene, Philby was made of much sterner stuff and kept “his” faith in his own particular manner. At least he did not turn into a serial rapist or right-wing reactionary Christian!

Originally, Greene suggested a sub-title for My Silent War – “The Spy as Craftsman” since he sees Philby operating in the same manner as any diligent craftsman but refining espionage rather than literary talents. The author noted Philby’s “relaxed manner.”

“He was, in those days, of course, fighting the same war as his colleagues: the extreme strain must have come later, when he was organizing a new section to counter Russian espionage, but though he was fighting quite a different war, he maintained his craftsman’s pride.” (viii)

Here Greene sees Philby not only according to his own Catholic sensibilities but also as a fellow writer crafting his real-life narrative world of espionage in a manner leaving deceptive tricks for the unwary in the same way as Greene’s own “entertainments.” In his silent war Philby was performing the role of an accomplished actor on a daily basis far better than those cinema stars who drew the author’s deserved scorn. Greene’s further comments about the departed spy are also worth quoting.

“He was serving a cause and not himself, and so my old liking for him comes back, as I remember with pleasure. Those long Sunday lunches at St. Albans when the whole sub-section relaxed under his leadership for a few hours of heavy drinking, and later the meetings over a pint on fire-watching nights at the pub behind St. James’s Street. If one made an error of judgment he was sure to minimize it and cover it up, without criticism, with a halting stammered witticism. He had all the small loyalties to his colleagues, and of course his big loyalty was unknown to all of us.” (ix)

The last paragraph of this introduction immediately immerses the reader into the realm of Greeneland where the author’s distinctive type of criticism, one owing much to his appreciation of fine detail in the films he reviewed during the 1930s, immediately comes to mind. It is a fictional realm but one indicative of “A Sort of Life” that the master spy had been following for so long.

Following his clearance in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Greene and his colleagues decide to visit Philby. But it is now evident that the game is up.

“There was no sign of any tending in the overgrown garden and no answer to the bell when one rang. We looked through the windows of an ugly sprawling Edwardian house, on the borders of Ashdown forest, in this poor man’s Surrey. The post hadn’t been collected for a long time – the floor under the door was littered with advertising brochures. In the kitchen there were some empty milk bottles, and a single dirty cup and saucer in the sink. It was more like an abandoned gypsy encampment than the dwelling of a man with wife and children. We didn’t know it, but he had already left for Beirut – the last stage of his journey to Moscow, the home which he had never seen. After thirty years in the underground he had earned his right to rest.” (ix)

Greene’s description of Philby’s deserted house far from matches the debonair Westminster College, Cambridge educated persona that this devious player exhibited in everyday life amidst upper class circles. It instead parallels those sordid earthly domains inhabited by those fallen humans such as Minty in England Made Me and others in works such as A Gun for Sale and Brighton Rock. Greene’s Catholic and literary sensibilities come to the fore here. But, as we know, Philby never earned the “rest” that he felt entitled to but instead became a hopeless alcoholic during the time he temporarily fell into disfavor in Moscow, perhaps yearning for an England he could never return to in the same way that Guy Burgess in Alan Bennett’s television play An Englishman Abroad (1983) yearned for that Saville Row suit that, but for the grace of Coral Browne, he would not otherwise have proudly worn in the streets of Moscow in his final years.

Exploring the Pleasure Dome

As Sheldon notes concerning Greene’s role as film critic, the author admired any film that contained an image that conveyed a wealth of feeling in only a few seconds. The concrete nature of this image was paramount.

“What he was learning from such films was a way to make images carry more of the meaning in his work. Imagism had taken him part of the way, but the cinema offered so many new suggestions. Raven’s harelip in A Gun for Sale, the gulls swooping over the pier in Brighton Rock, the yellow-fanged mestizo in The Power and the Glory, the misty common dividing Maurice and Sarah in The End of the Affair – all these memorable images seem to have sprung from the darkness of the cinema.” (176) 

To these may be added the flashback and flash-forward structure of The Quiet American as well as its insightful use of montage and parallels. As Fowler watches Phuong in Vigot’s office in chapter one of the novel, Greene mentions that “A mosquito droned to the attack.” This imagery evokes his contradictory memory of his first meeting with Pyle who “flung at us like a dart. With his gangly legs and his crew-cut and his wide campus gaze he seemed incapable of harm. 5

Some thirteen years ago, Film Quarterly published my review of The Graham Greene Film Reader edited by David Parkinson in a mangled version that bore no relationship to my original copy. I will not claim that this was my version of The Magnificent Ambersons but the published copy did look like it had been edited with a lawn mower as Welles once remarked about the studio’s treatment of his original version of this film. Now that I’ve lost my original due to a damaged disk and the chances of its recovery are as slim as finding the original Ambersons I’ve decided to revisit this book. During our present time of economic gloom and bad Hollywood movies we all need a laugh and this collection of reviews from the 1930s provides this as well as giving us that eighteenth century weapon of witty sarcasm directed against products that really deserve it. Parkinson points out that in addition to Greene’s literary accomplishments and screenplays, the author “had been one of the finest film critics of the 1930s – indeed, simply one of the finest critics – and, on a number of occasions, he had even tried his hand at producing.” 6Like my more humble self, he had attended films from a very early age but not in a post-war Swansea that boasted several cinemas no longer in existence like the Castle, now the site of a youth night-club (featured in the 1966 Dennis Potter BBC television play Where the Buffalo Roam with one scene showing Hywel Bennett in Western gear riding a horse along today’s polluted Swansea Bay), the Elysium in High Street (which went the way of Bingo before its final decline), and the Rialto (now demolished but located in Wind Street’s currently notorious area known for youthful alcoholic inebriation thanks to New Labour’s 24 hour drinking legislation and pub violence!)  The first film that the young Greene remembered seeing at the age of six was a silent film version of an Anthony Hope novel Sophie of Kravonia (remade by the American Allied Artists company in 1920) while High Noon (1952) and a silly, now forgotten British comedy The Perfect Woman (1949) starring Patricia Roc race neck and neck in my memory.  While I grew up during the still rewarding rich era of late classical Hollywood cinema and European film as well as enjoying the beautiful Technicolor Republic diverse “entertainments” starring John Payne in films such as Passage West (1951), Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953), Silver Lode (1954), Santa Fe Passage, and Hell’s Island (both 1955), Greene “was particularly fortunate that his growing enthusiasm coincided with one of the silent screen’s more inspired periods – that of Fritz Lang’s Niebelungen and Arthur Robison’s Warning Shadows, of Clair at the peak of his powers and of Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Dovzhenko. Sadly, the British cinema offered little to quicken the pulse, at a time when Hollywood could boast such masterpieces as Von Stroheim’s Greed, Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris and his incomparable comedies amidst the usual plethora of dismal melodramas.” (xii-xiii)

Yes, we both experienced the pleasures of cinematic giants in those days – not poison dwarfs like Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino!

Anyone who has worked as a critic faces a common dilemma. If there is nothing worth writing about and one lived in a pre-internet/DVD/VHS age or limited to the offerings of monopolistic cinema chains and Blockbuster and Family Video, then Greene’s question is more relevant today than it ever has been: `what in the cinema is the critic to write about?’ Parkinson reveals that Greene decided to hunt for big game like a jungle explorer solving the dilemma in his own inimitable way.

“If each week, he confined himself to the truth `showing how the script-writer, the director and the camera man have failed, he will soon lose his readers and afterwards his job’. Greene decided therefore, that satire was the only available approach: `make a flank attack upon the reader, to persuade him to laugh at personalities, stories, ideas, methods, he has previously taken for granted.’ (xxi)

The author explains this method in his 1936 Sight and Sound article “Criticism by Satire.”

“Almost the only approach possible at the present stage for a critic who is writing for readers uninterested in technical detail is the satirical. This is to make a flank attack on the reader, to persuade him to laugh at personalities, stories, ideas, methods, he has previously taken for granted. We need to be rude, rude even to our fellow reviewers, but not in the plain downright way, which may help to kill a particular picture, but leaves its kind untouched…The cinema needs to be purged with laughter, and the critics too…Indeed, I am not sure whether our fellow critics are not more important subjects for our satire than the cinema itself, for they are doing as much as any Korda or Sam Goldwyn to maintain the popular middle-class Book Society status quo.” (408)

This would also apply to the Two Thumbs Up and Down School as well as the mindless “Hooray for Hollywood” mentality of Entertainment Tonight.

Greene believed that films should both entertain and serve a critical purpose. They should not be respectable products aimed at tired businessmen and fragile middle-class audiences seeking their particular forms of “ways of escape” in good taste productions. Neither from our perspective should films today be exclusively packaged as billion dollar productions aimed at an adolescent audience with 3-D frills designed to distract attention from the poverty of imagination. “Greene lamented the fact that the films had been tainted with this respectability rather than immersed in the healthy vulgarity of the Blackfriars Ring, the Wembley final, the pin saloons, and the bear-pit. Patrons did not ask to be soothed, he argued, they craved excitement.” (xxii) This excitement had nothing to do with an industrial-based gratuitous stimulation of audiences but more with the type of communal response characteristic of the Renaissance period that Robin Wood saw as involving art forms that appeal to a “widespread, nonexclusive audience, as opposed to a small following of intellectuals or connoisseurs…Communal artists define themselves as offering a personal inflection on the familiar – developing, varying, pushing things further, gradually transforming the forms, the genres, but never leaping so far ahead that the audience can no longer make necessary adjustments.” 7This distinguishes the jaded work of a Peter Greenaway from the equally stylistic but more accessible, cinema of Johnnie To.

Cinema should never be “mindless entertainment.” The author believed that if directors linked their own experiences with audiences in darkened cinemas thus becoming integral parts of an involved, excited mass, then progress could be made. “An excited audience is never depressed; if you excite your audience first, you can put over what you will of horror, suffering, truth.” (xxii). Greene saw few examples of what he believed was the `proper use of the film’ and his comments here have little to do with gratuitous stimulation of audience responses in “scary movies” but a movement towards a type of `poetic cinema’ aimed at suggesting human values. “Linking this to Chekhov’s maxim that novelists should captivate their readers with portraits of life not only as it is, but also as it ought to be. Greene exhorted directors to construct their films from poetic images chosen for their contrasting value. As Judith Adamson has said, Greene did not ask `film to present a slice of life. Rather, he asked of it an honest and poetic representation of reality in which realism was redundant unless the film also explored its obverse.” (xxiii) This type of poetic cinema did not mean flamboyant and indulgent artistic expression. Nor the overtly theatrical “Shakespeare into film” adaptation of which Laurence Olivier’s Othello (1965) represents the worst example. Instead, it embodied a cinema merging the lyrical and the poetic in a critical manner that We from Kronstadt (1936) formed Greene’s ideal example of a successful cinema needing to be `simple, sensuous and passionate’.

Despite its very different context and nature, the work of Graham Greene represents important aspects of a cultural heritage that can be employed in different directions today from what its originator intended. Greene’s condemnation of “slice of life” films have much in common with criticisms of what soon came to be Soviet socialist realism by Leon Trotsky and Aleksandr Konstantinovich Voronsky. Significantly enough, although We from Kronstadt (1937) would be regarded as socialist realist on its release, Greene is acute enough a critic to recognize its “return of the repressed” poetic qualities that affirm intermittent signs of creativity despite the problematic circumstances of its production. In his posthumously published collection of essays, Art as the Cognition of Life, Voronsky noted that any “genuine art consists in thinking with the aid of images. Such thinking can be just as objective as scientific, discursive thinking with the aid of concepts. Such true art takes its material form from reality. It is by no means the fruit harvested from the play of poetic fantasy, moods, experiences, and feelings; it has nothing to do with subjective `making it up as you go along,’ or with idealistic metaphysics. It is fundamentally realistic and it must always be true; that is, it must correspond to one degree or another to reality.” 8

Greene’s descriptions of Philby’s abandoned house in the final paragraph of his introduction to My Silent War may appear to be artistic license. But, on the other hand, these concrete descriptions of the house and objects within its interior suggest both artistic poignancy as well as subjective and objective understanding that the game is up in more than one sense. Although far removed from the political world of Voronsky and the Left Opposition, the work of Graham Greene and the film criticism he espoused in which satire emerged as his most deadly weapon had one thing in common, namely evaluating art in terms of its particular role in depicting life. For Greene, the role of his type of poetic cinema was “Life as it is and life as it ought to be: let us take that as the only true subject for a film, and consider to what extent the cinema is fulfilling is proper function.” (409) Here the role of artistic interpretation is important and the critic’s duty is to distinguish between the artificial productions of talents such as Noel Coward, J.B. Priestley, and Horace Walpole and the type of absent art that Ford Madox Ford wrote about in 1911 that contained “a trace of the desire to have any kind of thought awakened.” (410)

“In those days before the great four years’ deluge Mr Ford found that `it is to the music-halls we must go nowadays for any form of pulse stirring’, the popular entertainment of that day. The cinema has to a large extent killed the music-hall, but has it absorbed its virtues or `the sinister forms of morality Mr Ford fond in the theatre?” (410)  

The writings of Voronsky reveal similar concerns.

“What is art?
First of all, art is the cognition of life. Art is not the free play of fantasy, feelings and moods; art is not the expression of merely the subjective sensations and experiences of the poet; art is not assigned the goal of primarily awakening in the reader `good feelings.’ Like science, art cognizes life. Both art and science have the same subject: Life, reality. But science analyzes, art synthesizes; science is abstract, art is concrete; science turns to the mind of man, art to his sensual nature. Science cognizes life with the help of concepts, art with the aid of images in the form of living, sensual contemplation.” 9He continues, “The artist cognizes life, but he does not copy it, he makes no photographs; he is not a photographer; he re-embodies it `with the all-seeing eyes of his feelings’…The artist sees ideas but he does not see everything; he must omit, not notice, whatever has no cognitive value, whatever is accidental, uninteresting, well-known. The true work of art always strikes one with its novelty; it excites one profoundly, it is always a discovery. The life which surrounds us flows by from day to day in a familiar and accustomed channel”. However, the artist “raises life to a `pearl of creation’; properties and traits, which are tossed and scattered about, he brings together, extracting what is characteristic. Thus what is created in our imagination is a life which is condensed, purified, sifted – a life which is better than it is, and which is more like truth than the realest reality. Together with the artist we begin to see what we had passed by without noticing, but what is given around us or what is maturing in the prophetic anticipation of days to come.” 10

This final sentence would distinguish Greene and Voronsky since they had different ideas about days to come, one Catholic and the other political although Greene tended to blur both together and his last letters express dissatisfaction with the Vatican Politburo of Pope John Paul II. In his January 22, 1991 letter written to Jesuit Alberto Huerta a few months before he died, Greene even states, “Really the only link I feel I have with the Catholic Church now is with the Jesuit Order. I can’t stand the present Pope!” But both focused upon the concrete elements of everyday life and the role of artistic transformation no matter how much their sensibilities differed. Probably Greene knew nothing about the work of this critic but such ideas were around at the time as part of a common cultural currency that artists used in distinctive ways. There is much to learn from the heritage of the past as Trotsky and Voronsky affirmed in their diatribes against those who wished to eject important elements of cultural tradition in the same way as several self-appointed film experts, (including a former Chair who criticized my Howard Hawks class pontificating from his version of the Papal See - “Students aren’t interested in that stuff!), believing that young audiences automatically reject old films, especially black and white ones, when hey have never had the opportunity to explore them in a respectful manner. In an era when so much dross appears in monopolistic theater chains, sarcasm is often a good weapon to use against directors now in decline such as Martin Scorsese and popular stars such as Leonardo di Caprio who reveals little acting ability in multi-million dollar performances.

For Greene film criticism involved a passionate engagement with its subject matter to discern works that embodied the poetic qualities of simplicity, sensuality, and passion. As John Atkins noted in his concluding his analysis of Greene’s work in this field, his criticism is that of the creative writer. 11 Re-reading his criticism today one notes his acute observations about those creative moments in film that raise it above the everyday and achieve the status of lyrical poetry. Greene did not use the term “poetic” technically but in the widest sense of the word. He notes that in Dryden’s day any creative writer was regarded as a poet and this definition would naturally include writers such as Chekhov,
Conrad, James, and Turgenev. “Mr. Ford Madox Ford has given us the most useful definition for the quality which these prose writers have in common with Shakespeare and Dryden: `not the power melodiously to arrange but the power to suggest human values.’” (412) This also evokes the Great Tradition school of F.R. Leavis and the critically evaluative writings of Robin Wood that have both been deliberately misinterpreted and misunderstood in their particular eras. Such qualities are not to be found in various screen adaptations of Shakespeare that Greene saw nor by beautifully photographed images since “photography by itself cannot make poetic cinema” (412) only “arty cinema.” Rather than the affected and wearisome example of Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran (1934), the faulty continuity of Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon (1934) “contained more of what we are looking for, criticism implicit in the images, life as it is containing the indications of life as it should be, the personal lyric utterance.” (412) For Greene, cinema must reflect the commonplace and remain a popular art appealing to millions evoking critical thought not mindless entertainment or genteel values of the ruling establishment. “This ought to encourage any artist who rejects the ivory tower, who wants his art to be part of the vulgar national life – if only the parallel with the Elizabethan stage were more complete. But the audience has lost its vulgarity; it is refined and partly educated, and the artist will no longer be heartened by the direct applause, or criticized by the direct disapproval of the common people, the whispers of women with shopping baskets, the secret movements of courting couples.”(490-491) A difference exists between a challenging type of cinema appealing to huge audiences in the same way that Dickens’s novels gained a wide readership and “most films that “pay lip service to life.” (512) Greene looked for films that expressed “Simple, sensuous and passionate” (418) qualities and he often found them in the most unexpected places as the following review shows.

While most critics have condemned the overt German expressionist techniques on John Ford’s The Informer (1935), Greene saw such images as indispensable to the drama.

“You need only the Black and Tan patrols through the Liffey fogs, the watching secretive figures outside the saloons as the drunken informer drifts deeper and deeper into the seedy night life of Dublin. Mr Victor McLaglen has never given an abler performance, and the film, even if it sometimes underlines its points rather crudely, is a memorable picture of a pitiless war waged without honour on either side in doorways and cellars and gin-shops.” (36)

Greene praises the direction of Howard Hawks and screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur in making Barbary Coast (1935), a “melodrama of the neatest, most expert kind, well-directed, well acted and well written” (41) while taking to task a British color film version of Faust (1935) starring that now forgotten British version of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald –Annie Ziegler and Webster Booth - as the worst use of that new technology he has seen so far making “the scarlet cap of Mephistopheles occasionally gleaming out of the obscurity with the effect of a traffic signal.” (76) The garish color and 3-D technology of Avatar (2009) would probably evoke a similar response were he with us today. Greene will later dismiss the plot of Hawks’s Only Angels have Wings (1939) but he will acclaim the atmospheric dimension of the film that certainly evokes Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean Well Lighted Place” that critics such as Robin Wood and Gerald Mast have seen as key elements of the film.

“What does remain in the memory is the setting, drab, dusty, authentic, and a few brilliantly directed scenes as when a young pilot is trying to land in a ground fog; those below can’t see the plane, but they can hear his engine and talk to him by telephone, warn him as he overshoots and hear from the vulcanite the regular record of his doomed descent – 1,000 feet, 500, 200, a long drawn-out waiting for the inevitable crash.” (338)

The second part of William Cameron Menzies’s Things to Come (1936) disappoints when it displays the childish fantasies of H.G. Wells’s vision of the future. “The unreligious mind when it sets about designing a heaven for itself is apt to be trivial, portentous, sentimental.” (78) Greene reserved a particular animus for “the polished fairy-tales of Mr. Hitchcock” (92) that he found less convincing than the most conventional American melodramas that “criticize as well as thrill”, that is, unless they feature British imports such as Herbert Marshall who represents a particular type of inanimate national character: “a kind of tobacco. A kind of tweed, a kind of pipe: or in terms of dog, something large, sentimental and moulting, something which confirms one’s preference for cats.” (92) Greene also preferred the home-grown British B-movie talent of a Todd Slaughter, the master of barnstorming melodrama in a The Face at the Window (1939) that surpassed American horror films.

“You go to laugh, but find yourself immediately – from the ingenious titling on – in the grip of the fine firm traditional dialogue, the magnificent casting, sets and camerawork which plank you surely back into that vague Victorian period, when anything might happen – when Jekyll was shrinking into Hyde and the ape committed its murders in the Rue Morgue.” (333)

Several American films did not satisfy Greene’s critical standards, especially those he looked forward to such as the film version of Robert E. Sherwood’s The Petrified Forest (1936) that eschewed concrete virtues of dramatizing in favor of didactic moralizing, similar to Elia Kazan’s boring and lethargic Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947). “So this drama slackens under the weight of Mr Sherwood’s rather half-baked philosophy. The moral is stated frequently, with the tombstone clarity of a leading article, when it ought to be implicit in every action, every natural spoken word, in the camera angles even (but this is not a film but a canned play).” (123) Greene does have some positive comments about the performances of Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis but his remark “canned play” shows the real cineaste at work, one who can distinguish between the achievements of Orson Welles’s Othello (1952) and a canned film version such as Stuart Burge’s stage-bound version of Othello (1965) with Laurence Oliver in the title role. Similarly, another Sherwood adaptation Idiot’s Delight (1938) shares the same type of “moral pretentiousness, a kind of cellophaned intellectuality” (283) as The Petrified Forest. By contrast, in the same review, Greene praises the little-known British film noir (recently revived in a 2009 New York Festival), They Drive by Night (1939) as being “on a level with the French cinema” (284) and somehow escaping censorship and romanticized treatment of the British lower depths by the performances of Emlyn Williams and Ernest Thesiger, realistic settings, and dialogue that evoke the world of “Greeneland” in “entertainments” such as A Gun for Sale.

They Drive by Night is a murder-story set against an authentic background of dance palaces, public houses, seedy Soho clubs, and the huge wet expanse of the Great North Road, with its bungaloid cafes, the grinding gears, and the monstrous six-wheeled lorries plunging through the rain.”(284) Now recognized as Britain’s literary representative of British film noir in the same manner as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett are associated with the American style, it is not surprising that Greene discerned such qualities in films he reviewed that corresponded with one version of literary creativity. 12

Naturally, European cinema wins easily in terms of any representation of sexuality even that shot in Hollywood. Reviewing William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights (1939), Greene believes French cinema knew how to shoot sexual passion. Instead “in this Californian-constructed Yorkshire”, among the sensitive neurotic English voices, sex is cellophaned; there is no egotism, no obsession. This Heathcliff would never have married for revenge (Mr. Olivier’s nervous, breaking voice belongs to balconies and Verona and romantic love), and one cannot imagine the ghost of this Cathy weeping with balked passion outside the broken window: Miss Merle Oberon cannot help making her a very normal girl.” (287) By contrast, Renoir’s Le Bete Humaine (1938) contains such passion and is the work of “a director who knows how to get the most out of the everyday life of his characters, the routine of their work – in this case the immediate surroundings of a great railway station: all the small incidents which English directors cut out of a script because they are now `on the story line’ and do not advance the plot.” (289)

The Littlest Rebel (1935) is Greene’s first encounter with Shirley Temple, one that will land him in trouble in a later review. “I had not seen Miss Temple before: as I expected there was the usual sentimental exploitation of childhood, but I had not expected the tremendous energy which her rivals certainly lack.” (106). His notorious review of her performance in Wee Willie Winkie (1937), the subject of a libel suit, appears in this collection for the first time since its initial publication. Referring to her “dimpled depravity” appealing to an “antique audience” responding to her “dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire” (234) is certainly strong. But should we not also see here another of Greene’s satirical salvos against bad Hollywood films and child stars who bear no relation to his ideal type of cinema? As his biographies show, Greene was never far from subversive mischief-making whether suggesting the Secret service fund a brothel to get information from the other side in World War Two or desiring to bring venerable English institutions to a state of collapse.

While bemoaning the low standards of British films using Hollywood stars to gain bookings abroad and the Alexander Korda regime in Denham Studios responsible for Things to Come, Greene sees humor in serious Hollywood films such as The Country Doctor (1936) featuring the Dionne Quintuplets where he notes Jean Hersholt in the title role in one sequence expresses “a bewildered admiration at their virtuosity, their impromptu and perfectly timed performance: a performance which reminded me of Buster Keaton’s solemn slapstick, as a quintuplet with an air of methodical pedantry upset each chair in turn.”(110) Some isolated scenes can redeem the most pretentiously serious film. Greene also applauds the performance of Bette Davis in Dangerous (1936) characterized, like her other screen roles, by “that precise nervy voice, the pale ash-blonde hair, the popping neurotic eyes, a kind of corrupt and phosphorescent prettiness.” (111-112) He also admires W.C. Fields in Poppy (1936) for avoiding any form of Chaplin sentimentality and his appreciation of Humphrey Bogart in The Roaring Twenties (1939) is priceless. “Mr Bogart was, of course, magnificent – always a pleasure to see Mr Bogart pumped full of lead.” (377)

“To watch Mr. Fields, as Dickensian as anything Dickens ever wrote, is a form of escape for poor human creatures: we who are haunted by pity, by fear, by your sense of right and wrong, who are tongue-tied by conscience, watch with envious love this free spirit robbing the gardener of ten dollars, cheating the country yokels by his own variant of the three-card trick, faking a marriage certificate, and keeping up all the time, in the least worthy and the most embarrassing circumstances, his amazing flow of inflated sentiments.” (121)

Greene does not appear to have reviewed the 1935 film version of David Copperfield but he would have relished the great comedian’s distinctive performance as Mr. Micawber. His reviews resemble a taste of some rare vintage wine in terms of his satirical and searching comments in a industrial complex that often resembles vineyards producing commodities such as Carlo Rossi and Ernest Gallo (despite Orson Welles’s commercials of several decades ago – and there are much more of those brands around today, alas!) Alan Dwan’s 1939 version of The Three Musketeers starring the Ritz Brothers fails in its aim of “trying to give this old drab of stage and screen a new life” and the Brothers lend “only a nervous monkey-gland twitching to the old corpse.” (282)

Documentaries for Greene should exhibit creative values if only to escape the sterility associated with the genre, namely “incomprehensible machinery revolving before the camera-eye: earnest `expert faces’ mouthing abstractions behind very polished and very empty desks: it carries a false air of impartiality, as much to say `this is what is – not what we think or feel’.” (294) By contrast, the personal aspects of the lyrical and ironic redeem the work of directors such as Alberto Cavalcanti and Humphrey Jennings in this field whenever possible. Greene later praises a 1940 documentary about evacuation by Alexander Shaw, These Children are Safe. “The sense of poetry is much rarer in film direction than the sense of humour, let us welcome it whole-heartedly when it is there,” (376) At any rate, such films provide relief from ponderous Cecil B.de Mille epics such as Union Pacific (1939) containing “all the Excelsior qualities we expect in his work – that sense of a Salvationist drum beating round the next corner…” (296-287) That old imperialist chestnut Beau Geste does not escape his wrath and he correctly anticipated that further technological developments would extend its lease of cinematic life despite The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977)! Greene describes the 1939 William Wellman version as a “morbid picture”. He later praises the virtues of a now forgotten documentary Dark Rapture (1939) that represents his ideal world of cinema as opposed to studio fabrication.

“One carries away from the cinema a sense of innocence, of human dignity reduced to its essentials, no robes or decorations, just the skin and bone and hank of hair. It is impossible to exaggerate the beauty of this film; perhaps it is not a picture for anthropologists: the impressions it gives are rapid, general, uninstructed, aimed at the imagination rather than the intelligence, but anyone who sees it is likely to lose his palate for cinema fiction that week.” (372-373)

Compare this to his condemnation of Beau Geste.

“There is something in this brazen tale which appeals to the worst in human nature – the cowardly will always find satisfaction in the impossible heroisms they will never have to imitate, and the weak in the disgusting and irrational brutalities of Sergeant Markoff, the Tom Brown bully who kicks over a water-bucket in the presence of the deserters dying of thirst.” (319)

These comments also evoke Robin Wood’s dissatisfaction with Casablanca when he compares it to Howard Hawk’s more mature and spontaneous To Have and Have Not (1944), where the first film expresses “the kind of feelings most of us would like to think we have, rather than the feelings we really do have.” 13Beau Geste is also a bulwark in that that twentieth century cinema of imperialism that also influenced Hollywood as Jeffrey Richards has shown in his monumental study. 14The film is an escapist fantasy in the worst adolescent manner but Greene did not entirely dismiss escapism as such. As opposed to a Gracie Fields film such as Shipyard Sally (1939) “designed to show a sympathy for the working class and an ability to appeal to the best circles: unemployment can always be wiped out by a sentimental song, industrial unrest is calmed by a Victorian ballad and dividends are made safe democracy” (322), he praises a French film for boys Les Disparus de St. Agil (1938) for both imaginative and realistic qualities. “One is apt to forget that the literature of escape is literature just because it is a real escape; it contains recognition of life as much as the action of a deserter contains the recognition of an enemy.” (324) This type of recognition appears on the cinematic level, especially scenes that recapture the best values of silent cinema where visual description opposes verbal didacticism as in certain scenes of the anti-Nazi Soviet production Professor Mamlock (1938). “All that is more or less silent in this film is first class; it is only when the characters talk too glibly of their ideals that we lose touch with the truth…” (326) Even the best propaganda can fail as with the bio-pic I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany (1939) based on a real life incident starring the real life American heroine imprisoned by the Nazis in 1934 on a charge of espionage. “Miss Steele plays Miss Steele as if she was sleep-walking, a lanky figure in a shapeless skirt protesting innocence to blond fanatics. As propaganda it is as complete a failure as Dr. Goebbels’s: the only emotion it arouses is hilarity.” (329) Greene also champions certain newsreels that convey stark images of war such as “huge smashed bridges – like back-broken worms writhing in water” (331).

“But news no longer means leading figures; we want the technique Anstey used in Housing Problems; America is more likely to listen with sympathy to the rough unprepared words of a Mrs Jarvis of Penge, faced with evacuation, blackouts, a broken home, than to the smooth-handled phrases of personalities. Above all, we don’t want the old commentators, with their timid patronizing jokes; this is a people’s war.” (331)

Establishment directors and producers evoke Greene’s sarcasm. He critiques the 1939 remake of Nurse Edith Cavell in no uncertain terms. “Mr Herbert Wilcox proceeds on his applauded course. As slow and ponderous and well-protected as a steam-roller, he irons out opposition. We get from his films almost everything except life, character, truth. Instead we have flags, anthems, leading articles, a tombstone reticence.” (338) Greene applauds the first part of the Korda production The Lion has Wings (1939) that uses documentary footage well. However, once the war begins “the film loses force and authenticity: we soon begin to tire of the fake elocutionist voices of trained actors.” (341) This period of the film’s production was known as the “phony war” since nothing much happened until the German Armies swept Europe and left the remnants of the British Army on the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940. Greene finds this film equally phony with the heroic English defeating all the Germans in aerial combat. “It would be a serious error, I think to exhibit this film in the United States until we have shown in the air as well as in the studio that we can save London from the raider: imaginary battles are all very well in a thriller – they are unpleasantly out of place in a documentary.” (341-342) He also justifiably criticizes the film’s excruciating final scene where Merle Oberon speaks on behalf of all English women. “As a statement of war aims, one feels, this leaves the word beyond Roedean intact.” 15  In contrast to this class-ridden artificial arena of British cinema, Greene applauded the three stars of Daughters Courageous (1939), cameraman James Wong Howe and actors Claude Rains, and John Garfield, the last acting “with the venom of real conviction his parallel part of the anti-social youth” (343) as well as the anti-establishment anarchic antics of The Crazy Gang in The Frozen Limits (1939) who disrupt the genteel values of British cinema “as if a troupe of clowns had suddenly with raspberries and rude gestures and the tang of the ring on their clothes irrupted into a tale of Mr De La Mare’s, all silence, spider-web and vacancy.” (346-347)

The concrete nature of a type of cinematic depiction approaching some form of relationship to everyday life formed the real litmus test for Greene. Reviewing an early British film noir On the Night of the Fire (1939) that Greene condemned both for its theatrical mode of presentation and the usual tendency of contemporary British cinema to have upper class actors such as Ralph Richardson, Diana Wynyard and Romney Brent unconvincingly portray working class characters inhabiting the lower depths, some interesting remarks concerning cinematic style occur. Greene contemplates “what constitutes promise in an English studio”. (350)

“Can it be that well-worn shot of a gramophone needle scraping to a close as a man dies out of sight? The second-rate cinema mind has always been attracted to symbolism – the apple blossom falling in the rain, the broken glass, all the sham poetic ways of avoiding the direct statement, which demands some insight into the way men really act.” (350-351)

A gramophone needle would appear in quite a different way in Greene’s and Terence Rattigan’s screenplay for the final scene of Brighton Rock (1947), one merging irony with a bleak foreshadowing of a future realistic traumatic experience when Rose will discover Pinky’s real feelings for her. By contrast, Clarence Brown’s The Rains Came (1939) succeeds due to a source novel containing “the sort of story which is unbearable in book form because of the dim characterization and flat prose, but becomes likeable as a film because a vivid camera takes the place of the pen.” (359) Greene would also take full responsibility for a bad film “in which I had some hand” such as Basil Dean’s Twenty-One Days (1939) representing himself as a guilty man in a dock. “The brilliant acting of Mr. Hay Petrie as a decayed and outcast curate cannot conquer the overpowering flavor of cooked ham.” (363) However, in his review of The Old Maid (1939) and The Light that Failed (1939) Greene provides insightful and ironic comments into the ideology of melodrama and sentiment where the improbable succeeds in capturing the attention of an audience wanting escape.

“These two pictures succeed admirably in what they attempt – to jerk the waiting tear out of its duct. Human nature is seldom more incomprehensible than in its sympathies; art which is supposed to enlarge them has left us, after all these centuries, reading with casual interest of the casualties in a wrecked train, or passing over a street accident altogether (`no news today’), though both are within range of our experience. But to tell a story about a great artist who receives a spear slash in the Sudan…an anecdote which can hardly appeal to the personal experience of anyone in the audience, and you will have every tenth man and woman weeping in the dark…Newspapermen will feel envious at this picture of correspondents who really went to Khartoum with Kitchener, or to Kandahar with Roberts, instead of watching endless football-matches and ENSA entertainment behind the lines.” (364-365)

These two films represent one of the “ways of escape” that Greene wrote about later. They represented something different for an audience that would soon face “a world of bombed towns”, audiences who sought escape from the mundane realities of their everyday lives so aptly captured by Greene in his “entertainments.” Yet this type of escape would not succeed without the type of accomplished screen acting represented by Bette Davis in The Old Maid and Walter Huston (along with Ida Lupino) in The Light That Failed who acts the vocal insincerity of Ronald Colman right off the set. Greene also speaks approvingly of two films by Carol Reed (with whom he would later work) and applauds images of a mine disaster in The Stars Look Down (1939) that can easily bear comparison with Pabst’s Kameradshatft (1930). However, such images fail to remain in the memory unlike those in the earlier film “because there is too much story drowning the theme: the particular is an uneasy ally in the literature of the general”. What could have been a good documentary narrative about the dangers of private ownership becomes dramatically less effective due to studio concerns. In the same review Greene also praises Ingrid Bergman’s first Hollywood film Escape to Happiness/Intermezzo (1940) less for its story but more for the introduction of a new star delivering “a performance that doesn’t give the effect of acting at all, but living – without make-up.” (368) He dreads that she may end up like a glamorized studio version of Anna Sten. Worse still, she might even become the Marlene Dietrich of Destry Rides Again (1939).

“They have tried to turn Time back and put her exactly where they found her, before the slinky dresses and the long cigarette holders, in the tough husky world of The Blue Angel. But time tells ungallantly in the muscles of the neck: there is no falling in love again, even if we wanted to.” (373-374)


The second part of The Graham Greene Film Reader contains essays and articles that are no less illuminating than his film criticism. In a 1925 issue of The Oxford Outlook he praises a scene in the 1923 version of The Call of the Wild in a critique of over-exaggerated sex in the average film comparing it to an evocative scene in quite a different film “where the distantly seen figures of the two dogs, Buck and Spitz, trot to meet each other across the snow for their final duel. For these were not average scenes in the film, for they appealed to a sense of beauty and not to a sense of sex.” (386) In a 1928 Times article he hopes that cinema will learn from past mistakes and move towards a more creative future. “The object of the film should be the translation of thought back into images, America has made the mistake of translating it into action…Von Stroheim, in Greed, seized on one image and conveyed infinitely more passion. The scene was a rainy day at a `seaside resort’. The lovers were shown only as two backs, receding down a long breakwater, on each side a leaden sea and a lashing rain, which failed to disturb their complete self-absorption.” (389)  If cinema should ever transcend its origins as “the limping Pegasus of the arts”, an understanding of utilizing the rhythms of time and space found in “certain isolated oases in a desert, in Mr Chaplin’s films, in the Niebelung, in Berlin (390) as well as the creative comedies of Harold Lloyd provide the answer. Writing during the time of sound transition, Greene recognized new developments but he also urged that reform should be aesthetic as well as technological and films should aim not to copy literature and theater but rather attempt to explore “the territory that is “proper to themselves.” (395) They can nurture a talent such as Peter Lorre providing him with “stories to suit his overpowering sense of spiritual corruption. He is an actor of great profundity in a superficial art. It will always be his fate to be cramped, not only by the shortcomings of directors but by the British Board of Film Censors. The financiers are not interested in psychological truth, and the Board does not recognize morality.” (404)

The second part of this outstanding collection also contains relevant book reviews, film scripts letters, interviews and lectures, as well as film stories and treatments. During his 1984 Guardian National Film Theatre lecture, Greene mentioned that he still took cinema seriously and mentioned two outstanding recent films that he enjoyed: Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence (1963) and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West (1968). He expressed irritation at contemporary English reviews that criticized the latter film for being too slow and lack of recognition “that one could have a very slow and admirable film and I love the kind of almost ballet quality in Once Upon A Time in the West, especially in the opening quarter of an hour or so.” (534-535) In the same lecture, Greene regarded the short story as providing a much better basis for a film rather than a novel since the cuts involve too many compromises. He also applauded the Thames Television adaptations of eighteen of his short stories, only four of which he disliked. 

Re-reading this collection today in a twenty-first century internet era, one sees how relevant Greene’s ideas are, even in a world of blog. sites characterized by inane fan-boy rantings and supercilious gossip. However better sites will continue this particular form of cinematically critical great tradition and may make some difference. Who knows? The challenge towards a better type of cinema still remains and the tacky 3-D effects of films such as Avatar (2009) do not compensate for the poverty of aesthetic imagination and the poor acting contained in this bloated didactic production no matter how much its director believes he has good intentions. As George A. Romero has recently pointed out, Cameron has the potential to make a real movie again like his earlier films “and not just make a film he wants to jerk off to. Avatar is just another Titanic – and Cameron’s got enough money now that he could actually raise the real Titanic, something he’s been trying to do for a while anyway, instead of crafting decent films.” 16The technological, rather than the aesthetic dimensions of film, again rule the mind of Hollywood producers in their rush to more 3-D productions in the same way as Technicolor did in the 1930s. But this is no solution on its own and the criticism of Graham Greene still reveals what is important to cinema in realizing its true potentials.



  1. See especially Leopoldo Duran, Graham Greene: An Intimate Portrait by his Closest Friend and Confidant. London: Harper Collins, 1994, 59, 164, 172.
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  2. Quentin Falk, Travels in Greeneland: The Cinema of Graham Greene. London: Quartet Books, 1984.
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  3. This is unfortunately the case with the treatment by Michael Sheldon in Graham Greene: The Enemy Within. New York: Random House, 1994, 46, 61, a mean-spirited and nasty book that mostly engages in dubious psychobiography, character assassination, and often unsupported insinuation designed to tarnish the author’s reputation. Greene certainly had a dark side but this type of biography belongs to the Kitty Kelly School of over-assertive reconstruction. However, despite his dubious use of this play, Sheldon, at least, does regard it as “farcical” which is the way it should be appreciated. All further citations to Sheldon come from this source. However, Richard Greene has taken this biographer to task for at least one selective misrepresentation, namely that Graham Greene ignored the oppression of Jews in Europe until after 1945. See Graham Greene: A Life in Letters. Edited by Richard Greene. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, 98.
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  4. Graham Greene, “Introduction,” Kim Philby, My Silent War. London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1968, vii. All further citations will come from this source. For the complex nature of Greene’s relationship with Philby see Norman Sherry, The Life of Graham Greene. Volume Two: 1939-1955. New York: Viking, 167-168, 181-183, 488-496. Greene kept in touch with Philby and visited him in Moscow until the spy’s death in 1988. However, Sherry’s reliability as a biographer has recently been called into question, especially concerning his interpretation of the Greene-Philby relationship. For a concise argument concerning the problematic status of Norman Sherry see Richard Greene, “Owning Graham Greene: The Norman Sherry Project.” University of Toronto Quarterly 75.4 (2006): 957-970, especially 959.  
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  5. Graham Greene, The Quiet American. New York: Penguin Books, 1980, 17. For Greene’s use of montage in this novel see further Andrzej Weselinski, Graham Greene, the Novelist: A Study of the Cinematic Imagination. PhD Dissertation. The University of Warsaw, 1983, 89-111. The Quiet American exercised a key role in raising American consciousness concerning the implications of the later Vietnam War. For one example see Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War. New York: Random House, Inc. 1994, 68. Significantly, Greene admired the journalism of Gloria Emerson (1929-2004) who reported on the Vietnam war for The New York Times and kept in touch with her until his death. See Graham Greene: A Life in Letters, 342-343, 352, 416, 419-420. His November 20, 1990 letter to her showing concern about her possible visit to Baghdad prior to the Gulf War is revealing. “What I don’t understand is that American could elect a former head of the CIA to the White House. After all he has been brought up in an atmosphere where lies are not only permitted but necessary as well as all the other tricks of the trade. One expects a President to have a rather more moral training.” (416) Such morality would be lacking in the successors of George Herbert Bush
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  6. The Graham Greene Film Reader: Reviews, Essays, Interviews & Film Stories. Ed. David Parkinson. New York: Applause Books, 1995, xi. All further citations will be from this source.
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  7. Robin Wood, “Introduction to 2006 Edition.” Howard Hawks. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2006, xvi.
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  8. A.K. Voronsky, “Sharp Phrases and the Classics.” Art as the Cognition of Life: Selected Writings 1911-1936. Translated and edited by Frederick S. Choate. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books, Inc., 1998, 83.
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  9. Voronsky, “Art as the Cognition of Life”, op. cit. 98.
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  10.  Op. cit. 99.
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  11. John Atkins, “The Curse of the Film,” Robert Evans. Ed. Graham Greene: Some Critical Observations. Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 1963, 207-218.
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  12. See James Naremore, “High Modernism and Blood Melodrama: The Case of Graham Greene.” European Precursors of Film Noir. Iris 21, (1996): 99-116.
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  13. Robin Wood, “To Have (Written) and Have Not (Directed).” Movies and Methods. Ed. Bill Nicholls. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, 304.
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  14. Jeffrey Richards, Visions of Yesterday. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1973, 2-220.
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  15. Greene is here referring to a well known English upper-class public (for US readers “private”), school. Note also Greene’s comment on The Green Cockatoo (1937), a film he wrote the original story and scenario directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring John Mills in his December 26, 1936 letter to his brother Hugh Greene, the future Director-General of BBC TV in the 1960s when television drama reached great creative expression. “Casting is proving very different. Menzies finds lovely people with appallingly tough faces, but when they open their mouths they all have Oxford accents.” Graham Greene: A Life in Letters, 82. 
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  16. Chris Alexander, “Survival among the Dead.” Fangoria 292 (2010): 44.
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