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“The Exalted Spirit of the Actual”

“The Exalted Spirit of the Actual”

James Agee, Critic and Filmmaker, and the U.S. Response to Neorealism

(p.71) “The Exalted Spirit of the Actual”
Global Neorealism
Robert Sklar
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter explores the postwar film work of James Agee, Helen Levitt, and Sidney Meyers, which can be seen as a possible response to Italian neorealism outside of mainstream American cinema. Agee, who wrote the first prominent critiques of neorealist films in the United States, was involved in two independent nonfiction film projects, The Quiet One and In the Street, both of which were released in 1948. His participation in these two productions came about through his friendship with the photographer Helen Levitt, and Janice Loeb, a painter of private means who, according to some accounts, financed the making of both works. Loeb produced The Quiet One and brought on Meyers as director.

Keywords:   Italian cinema, American cinema, Helen Levitt, Sidney Meyers, postwar films

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