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Halloween Post #2: The Chicago Tribune Reviews The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari . . . in 1920

I recently stumbled across this highly amusing 1920 review of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by the Chicago Tribune‘s pseudonymously named film critic “Mae Tinee” (who also owned the distinction of being the first Chicago journalist to interview Charlie Chaplin when he shot His New Job here for Essanay Studios in 1915). Aside from the faint whiff of xenophobia in the line about “their own backyard,” and in spite of the fact that this is a negative review (she doesn’t like Caligari precisely because it was effective in giving her “the willies”), this is a fun read that I think accurately captures the spirit of the film. Tinee calls it “a weird, mad, fantastic thing whose settings remind you of nothing so much as the disordered groupings of varicolored particles seen through the eye of a kaliedoscope,” before concluding that “Caligari is a Poe Charlie Chaplin!” Good God, have newspaper movie reviews gotten worse over the last hundred years?

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

3 responses to “Halloween Post #2: The Chicago Tribune Reviews The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari . . . in 1920

  • Colm

    When someone tells you they don’t like a thing, and describe it in a way that you do? That suggests to me a personality that can encompass more than they care for with tolerance if not acceptance.

  • Mitchell Brown

    I think a cardinal sin of criticism of any kind is when the critic says whether or not he or she ‘liked’ the work under discussion. A critic’s job is not to like but to explain. This hilarious interview has the same sort of adolescent partisanship that one finds in Time Out. I must say that I love the typo ‘sturdy’ at the end of the review. The mind reels at what that Freudian slip reveals. Thanks for uncovering and sharing this!

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