A Book Review by Tony Williams.

It’s a quarter to three. There’s no one in the place except you and me.”

What does one do in these pandemic times when travelling to the UK to interview surviving family members of a now forgotten British comedian becomes impossible, let alone finding The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences closed? How does one avoid frustration let alone driving those around you mad whenever theaters remain shut (even assuming there is anything worth watching anyway)? One answer is remembering that old 1930s Universal Picture logo, “A good cast is worth repeating” that followed “The End”, brush the dust off a container resembling that used by John Justin’s Vanderhausen in the 1979 BBC TV adaptation of LeFanu’s “Schalken the Painter” and give long published articles a “lease of life” especially to a new generation who may be unaware of the enthusiasm and love for cinema generated by a previous generation. This is what veteran film historian Anthony Slide has done in this new title The Truth at Twenty-Four Frames Per Second: An Anthology of Writings on Film History published by the always supportive BearManor Media.

Unlike most academics Slide has a prolific and well-researched track record, second to none, a “First among (Non-) Equals” as the last five entries reveal. (1) The title of his new release is not accidental. While thinking it as a response to Jean-Luc Godard’s later definition of film in his Dziga-Vertov Group days from the author’s own version of counter-cinema, another more significant motif occurs, one relevant to those new Dark Ages of “Do the Right (should be Left now) Thing” political correctness of “Woke, Glorious Woke, Spinelessness and Submission….”

We are living in a dangerous age, where history (including film history) is being revised and rewritten often with little or no regard for reality. Back in the Blacklist era, academics put their careers on the line to stand up for what they believed in. There seems little enthusiasm from the academic community to take the same stand today and reject revisionism when it is nothing more than a short-sighted effort to embrace political correctness (9). (2)

This mixed-bag miscellaneous collection from many sources presents to the reader an accessible and enthusiastic number of articles containing interviews as well as comments on the life and career of such notable figures as Lilian Gish, Kirk Douglas, John Stuart, Jim Sheridan, Val Guest and others as well as illuminating articles on Griffiths other actors, Vivienne Segal, Lawrence Welk whose status is well worth remembering. The historian old cinemas also enters in reminding us of those other articles in Allan Eyles long gone, but still respected, British journal Focus on Film. Among the delights is a 1992 article on Wendy Richard (1943-2009) remembered in the USA and U.K. for Are You Being Served? and Eastenders. She first came to notice as Mike Sarne’s partner in the No.1 hit Come Outside but only received the equivalent of $28 for her participation on a record that accelerated Sarne to temporary fame before his fall into oblivion after directing Myra Breckenridge. Like Mae West, Wendy Richard proved her longevity over Sarne. The book concludes with an Emmy Magazine 1985 article on Betty White (1922-2021) and a humorous collection of comments by Norman Lloyd (1914-2021) who died five days after the author’s last visit.

These articles are diverse but form pleasant reading far removed from the tortuous prose necessary to gain entry in prestigious journals today. While Cinema Studies continues to disappear from Universities along with the Arts and Humanities, it is gratifying to know of alternatives represented by Slide, Dan Van Neste, and Gary P. Rhodes still struggling in the trenches against overwhelming mediocre bombardment by administration and self-styled academic “film experts.” Love of cinema will continue as it always has – outside the institution – despite that brief period when it seemed to gain some degree of acceptance before Screen Theory and rigidly, inhumane methodologies gained dominance. For this, we will always be grateful to Anthony slide who gives us the “stars” and also “the moon.” His work is a good read and for this we must be grateful.


  1. They include his authored books, the third of which (Early American Cinema) is still in my library having purchased it in 1970 when it first appeared, the 126 Scarecrow Press “Filmmakers” series that he edited, #110 (Body and Soul: The Cinematic Vision of Robert Aldrich). I had the privilege of gaining from his expert editorial qualities, his seven part Scarecrow Press edited Studies and Documentation in the History of Popular Entertainment, his three Scarecrow Press edited “Studies in film Genres” written by different authors, and other books he edited.
  2. One remembers with trepidation and scorn for the institution that allowed to happen the removal of Dorothy Gish’s name along with her sister from a building devoted to her memory on a University campus – despite the fact that Dorothy never appeared in Birth of a Nation (1915) the reason for their Orwellian geographical vaporization!

Tony Williams is an independent critic and a Contributing Editor to Film International.

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