In an article I recently read, Pierre Durteste’s “Faut-il oublier Georges Sadoul?”, I came across a quote by a young Georges Sadoul on the appreciation of film art, and rainy days, in the newspaper L’Est Républicain from 1923, written in his years as a young cinephile critic in the French town of Nancy. Though such a view was in no way unusual for its time, I keep being surprised by how articulate cinephile critics were in the early 1920s in their pursuit to legitimize film as an art form, and it makes me think to a still greater degree that the foundation of film archives in the 1930s, as has become a more widespread explanation in the last decade, has more to do with the emergence of critical discourse on film as an art form than with the transition to sound, which has been a standard view. I include the quote below with a picture which alludes to the tastes of later cinephile critics of the 1950s and 1960s to play a pun on it:
On raye le cinéma du nombre des arts, dont il est cependant l’un des plus intéressants, en le jugeant trop souvent sur un vieux film américain vu, par hasard, un jour de pluie.
Cinema is crossed from the number of arts, of which it is nonetheless one of the most interesting, by judging it too often on an old american film seen, by chance, on a rainy day.
Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain (Dir.: Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1952)