Literary Criticism

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Film Nation

William Troy on the Cinema, 1933–1935

James R. Russo is an independent researcher who holds graduate degrees from Louisiana State University and the University of Richmond. He has taught at those schools as well as Tulane. Russo’s primary scholarly interests are the cinema and comparative literature.

Notable writers on literature and culture who occasionally penned opinion pieces on the movies prior to World War II include Clifton Fadiman, Mark Van Doren, Lincoln Kirstein, Edmund Wilson, Louise Bogan, and Paul Goodman. All of these critics wrote seriously about things other than the movies. Indeed, the early decades of film criticism drew many moonlighters who tried their hand at it for a few years, then moved on to their preferred métier. And such was the case with William Troy (1903–1961). Troy, a distinguished literary critic whose posthumous Selected Essays won a National Book Award in 1968, was also a much-loved professor at Bennington College, the New School, and New York University.

Troy was the film critic of The Nation from 1933 to 1935. To that post he brought an educated, almost professional tone, which he sometimes used for comic effect. He approached each piece of film criticism as an occasion for some larger essayistic rumination. Indeed, his feeling for the carpentry of the short review is superb, as the reader will detect in his pieces on such important films as Buñuel’s L’Âge d’or, Lang’s M, Duvivier’s Poil de Carotte, Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico!, Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet, Pudovkin’s Mother, Flaherty’s Man of Aran, Renoir’s Madame Bovary, and Ford’s The Informer.

William Troy was thus one of America’s first full-time professional film critics, if not the best of the lot. He deserves some of the attention heretofore reserved for another important early critic, James Agee, who himself began writing movie reviews for The Nation in 1942.

Published in conjunction with The Bookman: William Troy on Literature and Criticism, 1927–1950 (ISBN 978-1-78976-172-6), Film Nation is essential reading for cinephiles. Inclusion of a substantive index makes the work highly attractive for classroom adoption in the field of cinema studies.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-173-3
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: November 2021
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No






Films in Review

1. Cavalcade (1933), directed by Frank Lloyd

Island of Lost Souls (1932), directed by Erle C. Kenton

The Captain from Köpenick (1931), directed by Richard Oswald


2. Moon over Morocco (1931), directed by Julien Duvivier

Woman's World (1932), directed by Efim Dzigan & B. Shreyber

National Hunger March (1931), by Film and Photo League of the W.I.R. (Workers'           International Relief)


3. State Fair (1933), directed by Henry King

Whistling in the Dark (1933), directed by Elliott Nugent


4. My Heart Hesitates (1932), directed by René Guissart

Her Majesty Love (1931), directed by Joe May

Luxury Liner (1933), directed by Lothar Mendes


5. Life Is Beautiful (1932), directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin

She Done Him Wrong (1933), directed by Lowell Sherman

Topaze (1933), directed by Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast


6. Ivan (1932), directed by Alexander Dovzhenko

The Spell of Tatra (1933), directed by Adolf Trotz


7. Rome Express (1933), directed by Walter Forde

Our Betters (1933), directed by George Cukor

It's in the Bag (1932), directed by Pierre Prévert


8. King Kong (1933), directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack

The Other (1930), directed by Robert Wiene

Frederica (1932), directed by Fritz Friedmann-Frederich


9. Christopher Strong (1933), directed by Dorothy Arzner

Hertha's Awakening (1933), directed by Gerhard Lamprecht


10. Kuhle Wampe (1933), directed by Slatan Dudow

L'Âge d'or (1930), directed by Luis Buñuel


11. Private Jones (1933), directed by Russell Mack

A Lady's Profession (1933), directed by Norman Z. McLeod

Sweepings (1933), directed by John Cromwell


12. M (1931), directed by Fritz Lang


13. Gabriel Over the White House (1933), directed by Gregory La Cava

Pleasure Cruise (1933), directed by Frank Tuttle


14. Marius (1931), directed by Alexander Korda

A Bedtime Story (1933), directed by Norman Taurog

The Return of Nathan Becker (1933), directed by Rashel Milman & Boris Shpis


15. Films: Values Once Again


16. Reunion in Vienna (1933), directed by Sidney Franklin

Zoo in Budapest (1933), directed by Rowland V. Kee

Looking Forward (1933), directed by Clarence Brown

The Three Musketeers (1932), directed by Henri Diamant-Berger


17. The Story of Temple Drake (1933), directed by Stephen Roberts

The Silver Cord (1933), directed by John Cromwell


18. Dawn (1933), directed by Vernon Sewell & Gustav Ucicky

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1931), directed by Phil Jutzi

The Warrior's Husband (1933), directed by Walter Lang


19. Poil de carotte (1932), directed by Julien Duvivier

Picture Snatcher (1933), directed by Lloyd Bacon

Forgotten Men (1933), directed by Bud Pollard


20. The Little Giant (1933), directed by Roy Del Ruth


21. Cocktail Hour (1933), directed by Victor Schertzinger

International House (1933), directed by Edward Sutherland


22. Our Movie-Made Children (1933), by Henry James Forman (book review)


23. The Alluring Goal (1930), directed by Max Reichmann

Lilly Turner (1933), directed by William A. Wellman

When Ladies Meet (1933), directed by Harry Beaumont & Robert Z. Leonard


24. Que Viva Mexico! (1933), directed by Sergei Eisenstein


25. Twenty-Six Commissars (1933), directed by Nikoloz Shengelaya

Samarang (1933), directed by Ward Wing

Mickey's Gala Premiere (1933), directed by Burt Gillett


26. This Is America (1933), directed by Gilbert Seldes

The Strange Case of Tom Mooney (1933), by the Los Angeles Workers' Film and Photo League

Pilgrimage (1933), directed by John Ford


27. Stranger's Return (1933), directed by King Vidor

Mama Loves Papa (1933), directed by Norman Z. McLeod

Midnight Club (1933), directed by Alexander Hall & George Somnes


28. Another Language (1933), directed by Edward H. Griffith

The Song of Songs (1933), directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Three-Cornered Moon (1933), directed by Elliott Nugent

The Big Brain (1933), directed by George Archainbaud

Tarzan the Fearless (1933), directed by Robert F. Hill


29. Letter to the Editor Concerning Another Language (1933): Mr. Troy Explains Himself


30. The Power and the Glory (1933), directed by William K. Howard

Turn Back the Clock (1933), directed by Edgar Selwyn

Dinner at Eight (1933), directed by George Cukor

Bitter Sweet (1933), directed by Herbert Wilcox


31. Berkeley Square (1933), directed by Frank Lloyd

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), directed by Carl-Theodor Dreyer


32. Thunder over Mexico (1933), directed by Sergei Eisenstein


33. The Emperor Jones (1933), directed by Dudley Murphy

The Patriots (1933), directed by Boris Barnet


34. Wild Boys of the Road (1933), directed by William A. Wellman

Waltz Time (1933), directed by Wilhelm Thiele


35. Night Flight (1933), directed by Clarence Brown

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), directed by Alexander Korda


36. Bastille Day (1933), directed by René Clair


37. I'm No Angel (1933), directed by Wesley Ruggles

The Wandering Jew (1933), directed by George Roland


38. The Blood of a Poet (1930), directed by Jean Cocteau

Three Thieves (1926), directed by Yakov Protazanov


39. The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933), directed by Howard Hawks


40. Little Women (1933), directed by George Cukor

Cradle Song (1933), directed by Mitchell Leisen

Eskimo (1933), directed by W. S. Van Dyke


41. Design for Living (1933), directed by Ernst Lubitsch


42. The Invisible Man (1933), directed by James Whale

Duck Soup (1933), directed by Leo McCarey


43. Gow the Killer (1931), directed by Edward A. Salisbury

The Threepenny Opera (1931), directed by G. W. Pabst


44. Counsellor-at-Law (1933), directed by William Wyler

Advice to the Lovelorn (1933), directed by Alfred L. Werker


45. Films: Retrospect, 1933

Mirages de Paris (1933), directed by Fedor Ozep


46. Lot in Sodom (1933), directed by James Sibley Watson & Melville Webber

Alice in Wonderland (1933), directed by Norman Z. McLeod


47. Queen Christina (1933), directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Man of Two Worlds (1934), directed by J. Walter Ruben

Enemies of Progress (1933), directed by Nikolai Beresnyov


48. Hell on Earth (1931), directed by Victor Trivas

I Was a Spy (1933), directed by Victor Saville


49. Nana (1934), directed by Dorothy Arzner & George Fitzmaurice

The Two Orphans (1933), directed by Maurice Tourneur


50. The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934), directed by Paul Czinner

Carolina (1934), directed by Henry King

Moulin Rouge (1934), directed by Sidney Lanfield

A Simple Tailor (1928), directed by Vladimir Vilner


51. It Happened One Night (1934), directed by Frank Capra

Palooka (1934), directed by Benjamin Stoloff


52. Death Takes a Holiday (1934), directed by Mitchell Leisen

Spitfire (1934), directed by John Cromwell

The Loves of Ariane (1931), directed by Paul Czinner


53. The House of Rothschild (1934), directed by Alfred L. Werker


54. Broken Shoes (1933), directed by Margarita Barskaya

Riptide (1934), directed by Edmund Goulding


55. Viva Villa! (1934), directed by Jack Conway, William A. Wellman, & Howard Hawks


56. Tarzan and His Mate (1934), directed by Cedric Gibbons

Hitler's Reign of Terror (1934), directed by Michael Mindlin


57. Marionettes (1934), directed by Yakov Protazanov


58. Where Sinners Meet (1934), directed by J. Walter Ruben

Murder in Trinidad (1934), directed by Louis King

The Black Cat (1934), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

Sadie McKee (1934), directed by Clarence Brown


59. Mother (1926), directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin

Little Man, What Now? (1933), directed by Frank Borzage

The Key (1934), directed by Michael Curtiz


60. The World Moves On (1934), directed by John Ford

Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934), directed by Roy Del Ruth

One More River (1934), directed by James Whale


61. The Scarlet Empress (1934), directed by Josef von Sternberg

Petersburg Nights (1934), directed by Grigori Roshal & Vera Stroyeva


62. The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), directed by Sidney Franklin

Belle of the Nineties (1934), directed by Leo McCarey

British Agent (1934), directed by Michael Curtiz

Thunderstorm (1934), directed by Vladimir Petrov


63. Our Daily Bread (1934), directed by King Vidor


64. Man of Aran (1934), directed by Robert J. Flaherty


65. The Merry Widow (1934), directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Miracles (1934), directed by Pavel Petrov-Bytov

The Last Gentleman (1934), directed by Sidney Lanfield

Little Friend (1934), directed by Berthold Viertel

Norah O'Neale (1934), directed by Brian Desmond Hurst


66. Three Songs about Lenin (1934), directed by Dziga Vertov

The First World War (1934), directed by Laurence Stallings


67. Man of Courage (1933), directed by Gioacchino Forzano


68. Madame Bovary (1934), directed by Jean Renoir

The Gay Divorcee (1934), directed by Mark Sandrich


69. Painted Veil (1934), directed by Richard Boleslawski

The Battle (1934), directed by Tim Whelan

The Death Agony of the Eagles (1933), directed by Roger Richebé


70. The President Vanishes (1934), directed by William A. Wellman

The Captain Hates the Sea (1934), directed by Lewis Milestone


71. Don Quixote (1933), directed by G. W. Pabst

Babes in Toyland (1934), directed by Gus Meins & Charley Rogers


72. The Mighty Barnum (1934), directed by Walter Lang

Evergreen (1934), directed by Victor Saville


73. Clive of India (1935), directed by Richard Boleslawski

Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), directed by Henry Hathaway

Chapayev (1934), directed by Sergei Vasilyev & Georgi Vasilyev


74. David Copperfield (1935), directed by George Cukor

Bordertown (1935), directed by Archie Mayo

Baboona (1935), directed by Martin Johnson & Truman Talley


75. The March of Time (1935), directed by Louis de Rochemont

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), directed by Harold Young


76. Sequoia (1934), directed by Chester M. Franklin


77. The Whole Town's Talking (1935), directed by John Ford

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), directed by Leo McCarey


78. The Wedding Night (1935), directed by King Vidor

Liliom (1934), directed by Fritz Lang

The Crisis Is Over (1934), directed by Robert Siodmak

Roberta (1935), directed by William A. Seiter


79. It Happened One Night (1934), directed by Frank Capra

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935), directed by Stuart Walker

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), directed by Alfred Hitchcock


80. Black Fury (1935), directed by Michael Curtiz


81. The Youth of Maxim (1935), directed by Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg

Men of Tomorrow (1932), directed by Leontine Sagan


82. Les Misérables (1935), directed by Richard Boleslawski

Cardinal Richelieu (1935), directed by Rowland V. Lee


83. The Informer (1935), directed by John Ford

The Scoundrel (1935), directed by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur


84. Werewolf of London (1935), directed by Stuart Walker

The Devil Is a Woman (1935), directed by Josef von Sternberg

Break of Hearts (1935), directed by Philip Moeller


85. Escape Me Never (1935), directed by Paul Czinner


86. Let 'Em Have It (1935), directed by Sam Wood


87. Becky Sharp (1935), directed by Rouben Mamoulian


88. Man of Aran (1934), by Pat Mullen (book review)

Oil for the Lamps of China (1935), directed by Mervyn LeRoy


89. Escapade (1935), directed by Robert Z. Leonard


90. She (1935), directed by Lansing C. Holden & Irving Pichel




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