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Criticism has shoaled on background realism and the absence of style it takes for stylish. Already Bud Yorkin’s The Thief Who Came to Dinner had left audiences behind, Mann starts to show the critical establishment as well-meaning but incompetent.

It would be of great use, on the contrary, to show the actual basis of construction in films from Hang ‘em High to Dark Passage, etc. This is the knowledge that secures the swift and unerring movement of this masterpiece at every moment, its consciousness of standing foremost among equals, aided and of course abetted by detailed technical knowledge and artistic skill.

Comparison to The Gambler will show the creative choice of James Caan to be paramount.

Inspiration is the key of realism and vice versa, a paradox to be considered in the twilight zone of critical theory (not Marxism, the theory we have critics). Is it any consolation to the artists to be told they are ahead of their time?

There is a further line of understanding to be found in the crime family as a symbol of the ties that literally bind (Anthony Mann’s Man of the West, etc.).



As Herman J. Mankiewicz would say, when the paid professional fanny of a film critic starts to squirm, you get a bad review. Heat is just the plush sort of stuff our critics get at home on prestige TV action shows of this latter day. Only Maslin of the New York Times exhibited sitzfleisch with a sufficiently rounded education to withstand it.

The point is stretched that Thief was a last Seventies movie. In those days it was considered fashionable to create art, and many people did who now do other things, particularly on television. Mann is exemplary in this regard. Still, it’s good to know what it is the critics really admire, and at any rate I’m not a critic.