[Critics and the art world]

Sunday, October 30, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses the failure of experimental theater. He specifically notes "The Isle of Goats" which had a profound meaning, but failed in production quality. He notes, however, that "The Diary of Anne Frank" is extraordinary. He also mentions "Oklahoma."

Seldes moves on to talk movies. He was requested to name the ten greatest movies of all time. He felt that very definite criteria for this list must be established. He discusses great scenes from movies.
He talks about how directors and camera men are making us look where they want us to look. Seldes wonders if, with wide screens, directors will be able to direct the audience's attention correctly.
He discusses that films that relate to common experience help to draw the audience in. With European films this often consists of a grim plot, but rarely exists in American films, which often don't show people even working. He specifically mentions "Marty," a love story about a butcher. It is interesting to note that this un-glamorized film is a huge success.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 64352

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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