Sarah Palin is the New Lola Montes:
MP3 Click here to hear the legendary critic's WNYC interview with Nathan Lee
A Conversation with Andrew Sarris
“Lola Montes” is, in my unhumble opinion, the greatest film of all time, and I am
willing to stake my critical reputation, such as it is, on this one proposition above all
Thus wrote the legendary film critic Andrew Sarris following a screening of Max
Ophuls’ “ill-starred masterpiece” at the inaugural New York Film Festival in 1963.
Based on the life of an actual 19th century courtesan but realized as an extravagant,
dreamlike spectacle, “Lola Montes” tells the story of a fallen woman in the most
exalted of styles. “To be moved by Lola Montes,” Sarris proclaimed, “is to feel the
emotion in motion itself as an expression of a director’s delirium.”
Sarris was no stranger to polemics; this was, after all, the man who went to war with
Pauline Kael over some shady business he imported from France. His estimation of
Ophuls’ swan song, since retracted but no less forceful a statement of principles,
abides as one of the most audacious throwdowns in the history of cinephila.
45 years later, the infamous film and its famous champion are back at the New York
Film Festival. On October 4 - his 80th birthday - Sarris will introduce a screening of
“Lola Montes” looking better than ever in a new digital restoration.
I spoke with Sarris about his ongoing love affair with “Lola” in all her incarnations -
including her latest in the Governor of Alaska.