Watching old movies is like spending an evening with those people next door. They bore us, and we wouldn't go out of our way to see them; we drop in on them because they're so close. If it took some effort to see old movies, we might try to find out which were the good ones, and if people saw only the good ones maybe they would still respect old movies. As it is, people sit and watch movies that audiences walked out on thirty years ago. Like Lot's wife, we are tempted to take another look, attracted not by evil but by something that seems much more shameful -- our own innocence.
Pauline Kael (June 19, 1919 September 3, 2001) was a film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine. She was known for her in-depth, well-informed, deeply personal, sometimes impassioned movie reviews. Though she approached movies intellectually, her writing style was strictly in the vernacular, and her guiding thesis was that movies, regardless of other merits, must be entertaining. Many people considered her the most influential American film critic of her day, including critic Roger Ebert, whose own style is heavily indebted to Kael.