Did French theater patrons a hundred years ago really duck and hide under their seats when first faced with the footage of a train rolling towards them? Was The Jazz Singer really the first film with sound? Is Citizen Kane in fact better than any other movie ever made? Michael Z. Newman takes on these and other film legends, and the way film historians and journalists have misused them.
Great article - but I'll admit it's difficult to let go of such stories. Part of the attraction of film for me is its mythological capacity, and moviemakers themselves often love creating or reinforcing myths about moviemaking. After all, Singin' in the Rain probably did more to establish the legend of The Jazz Singer as an one-note revolution instead of the culmination of a long process of small steps than any historian or journalist ever could. All of the folklore about films are all stories about the power of cinema, and for those who love cinema, they're the stories we want to believe.