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Old 11-12-2019, 07:16 AM
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What were the biggest critical reappraisals? (All media)


I'm not talking about box office here: Plenty of films do poorly in their initial release and then do well afterwards for purely boring reasons like studio politics preventing a proper marketing campaign, and plenty of films have a good opening weekend and then do precisely nothing afterwards because they made a big splash and were so bad nobody wanted to see them twice.

I'm talking about films where the consensus of reviewers (usually called "critics") has shifted dramatically. One example is John Carpenter's The Thing, which was hated by reviewers when it was first released and is now one of canonical horror/science-fiction genre merges. I can't think of any film going the other way, from loved by reviewers to being panned now.

Moving away from film, the novel Moby-Dick got mixed reviews, and now it's universally seen as one of the greatest English-language novels.
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:33 AM
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When I was in college, it was just kin of assumed that Jerzy Kozinski would wind up in the Pantheon of Important Writers and that Jim Thompson would not, and pretty much the opposite happened. Authors don't find their place in the literary canon during their lifetime, usually; when my father went to high school in the 30s, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens were not yet considered serious literature. When I was in high school, JRR Tolkein was kind of a niche oddity.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:16 PM
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When I was in college, it was just kin of assumed that Jerzy Kozinski would wind up in the Pantheon of Important Writers and that Jim Thompson would not, and pretty much the opposite happened.
One data point does not an argument make, but if it makes you feel any better, when I was an English lit undergrad in the late '90s, Being There was assigned reading. I don't know who the hell Jim Thompson is.
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:37 AM
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Rolling Stone hated Black Sabbath early on.

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Over across the tracks in the industrial side of Cream country lie unskilled laborers like Black Sabbath, which was hyped as a rockin’ ritual celebration of the Satanic mass or some such claptrap, something like England’s answer to Coven. Well, they’re not that bad, but that’s about all the credit you can give them. The whole album is a shuck — despite the murky songtitles and some inane lyrics that sound like Vanilla Fudge paying doggerel tribute to Aleister Crowley, the album has nothing to do with spiritualism, the occult, or anything much except stiff recitations of Cream clichés that sound like the musicians learned them out of a book, grinding on and on with dogged persistence. Vocals are sparse, most of the album being filled with plodding bass lines over which the lead guitar dribbles wooden Claptonisms from the master’s tiredest Cream days. They even have discordant jams with bass and guitar reeling like velocitized speedfreaks all over each other’s musical perimeters yet never quite finding synch — just like Cream! But worse.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:15 AM
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Rolling Stone hated Black Sabbath early on.
I'm a Sabbath fan but I don't really disagree with this take.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:20 AM
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Rolling Stone hated Black Sabbath early on.
Jesus. How many times can you cram the name Cream into a review of an entirely different band?
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:28 AM
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The 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde was dragged over it's supposed glorification of violence and so on. But a few reviewers loved it and started touting it. In particular Pauline Kael wrote an essay praising it. Turned both the film's assessment and her career around.

Got two Oscars and a bunch of nominations.
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:38 AM
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I can't think of any film going the other way, from loved by reviewers to being panned now.
I get the impression that the Holocaust comedy "Life is Beautiful" has lost some of its lustre over the years.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:07 AM
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I get the impression that the Holocaust comedy "Life is Beautiful" has lost some of its lustre over the years.
"American Beauty" got raked very quickly.
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:13 PM
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"American Beauty" got raked very quickly.
I didn't see it when it was in the theaters, but when I did see it several years later, I understood why so many people didn't like it, which was why I didn't pay money to see it while it was in cinematic release.

I loved it, but yeah, the reason so many people didn't like it was because they were LIVING it.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:14 PM
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I didn't see it when it was in the theaters, but when I did see it several years later, I understood why so many people didn't like it, which was why I didn't pay money to see it while it was in cinematic release.

I loved it, but yeah, the reason so many people didn't like it was because they were LIVING it.

Looks like it's still doing really well overall on Rotten Tomatoes:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american_beauty
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:11 AM
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The Blues Brothers wasn't well liked by critics, and flopped too. Found its place on video rental release.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:38 AM
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The Blues Brothers wasn't well liked by critics, and flopped too. Found its place on video rental release.
The same is true of Clue.

How about the Gettysburg Address?
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:19 AM
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The Blues Brothers wasn't well liked by critics, and flopped too. Found its place on video rental release.
The Blues Brothers was anything but a flop.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blues_Brothers

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The film grossed $57 million domestically in its theatrical release, making it the 10th highest-grossing movie of 1980, and grossed an additional $58 million in foreign release
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:48 AM
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The Blues Brothers was anything but a flop.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blues_Brothers
OK, but this thread is more about critical opinion than box office.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:07 PM
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The Blues Brothers wasn't well liked by critics, and flopped too. Found its place on video rental release.
I remember a joke in National Lampoon back around the time the movie came out.

Q: How many Blues Brothers does it take to make a funny movie?

A: Apparently more than two.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:19 AM
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I imagine The Birth of a Nation is viewed in a very different light by many modern critics...
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:56 AM
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I imagine The Birth of a Nation is viewed in a very different light by many modern critics...
I almost included that one, but from reading the Wikipedia page its reception wasn't exactly universally rapturous. It was a box office success, but not a huge critical darling.
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:25 AM
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I imagine The Birth of a Nation is viewed in a very different light by many modern critics...
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I almost included that one, but from reading the Wikipedia page its reception wasn't exactly universally rapturous. It was a box office success, but not a huge critical darling.
Then maybe it should be included because, as racist as the story is, it's difficult for a film critic today to deny the importance of its role in cementing film grammar and technique. Critics in 1915 might not have been able to wrap their heads around that aspect without any context.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:19 AM
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Johann Sebastian Bach was primarily known as a talented organist during his life but was heavily overshadowed as a composer by his talented sons. Bach's music for the last half of his life was seen as stodgy, old-fashioned and dull and he struggled to get it played anywhere (or anywhere he wasn't personally in charge of the music). He was "rediscovered" in the 19th century and the rest is history.
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:59 AM
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Johann Sebastian Bach was primarily known as a talented organist during his life but was heavily overshadowed as a composer by his talented sons. Bach's music for the last half of his life was seen as stodgy, old-fashioned and dull and he struggled to get it played anywhere (or anywhere he wasn't personally in charge of the music). He was "rediscovered" in the 19th century and the rest is history.
Just for fun, here's the other side of the coin - the guy who was THE hot ticket in the 1730s and onward in high society, when critics were busily slating Bach's music: Johann Adolph Hasse. Seriously, for a while he was making (in contemporary terms) Michael Jacksonesque levels of money and hobnobbed with emperors. And then he got old and died and everyone moved on and forgot about him.

(I'd recommend his opera Cleofide if you're into 18thC opera - I prefer the Capriccio recording with Emma Kirkby and Randall K Wong.)
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:10 PM
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Just for fun, here's the other side of the coin - the guy who was THE hot ticket in the 1730s and onward in high society, when critics were busily slating Bach's music: Johann Adolph Hasse. Seriously, for a while he was making (in contemporary terms) Michael Jacksonesque levels of money and hobnobbed with emperors. And then he got old and died and everyone moved on and forgot about him.

(I'd recommend his opera Cleofide if you're into 18thC opera - I prefer the Capriccio recording with Emma Kirkby and Randall K Wong.)
It's interesting to look at old NYT bestseller lists of books to see who had staying power, and who didn't - 50 years ago the list looked like this http://www.hawes.com/1969/1969-11-09.pdf: Philip Roth is still highly regarded, and Mario Puzo, Chaim Potok, and Jacqueline Susann are well known - but who is Gladys Rockmore Davis?
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:39 AM
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As I recall, Moby Dick wasn’t successful and Melville’s more conventional south seas novels were quite popular. Time has reversed that.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:59 AM
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Ishtar was badly panned when it came out (with a few notable exceptions) and got the reputation of being a terrible movie. Nowadays, most critics think it's pretty good overall.

Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers was a major flop, but now is considered one of their best.

Crash was loved by critics when it first came out, but after it won the Oscar, its reputation fell precipitously (I disagree, especially since most people who sneer at it don't understand its point).
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:05 AM
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I can't think of any film going the other way, from loved by reviewers to being panned now.
Well, Manhattan's free ride is over, though not because of the film's actual merits. Quite a few critical darlings from circa 1979 have either gotten downgraded (Heaven's Gate, The Deer Hunter, I think there was just a feeling of Michael Cimino fatigue) or unaccountably dropped off the radar (Reds and Breaking Away were freakin' huge when they were in the theaters!). And not to keep picking on poor Jerzy Kozinski, but Being There kind of started the trend of movies you see once, profess to their awe to anybody who will listen, and then never think about them again.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:24 AM
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Quite a few critical darlings from circa 1979 have either gotten downgraded (Heaven's Gate, The Deer Hunter, I think there was just a feeling of Michael Cimino fatigue)
I was never aware of Heaven's Gate being a "critical darling." Quite the contrary, it was almost universally hated by critics, and it lost so much money that it's often been pointed to as the film that ended the practice of hot young directors being given lavish budgets and almost no studio oversight. It also seriously damaged Kris Kristofferson's reputation as an actor.

There has been something of a reassessment of Heaven's Gate more recently, and a feeling has emerged that many of those early reviews were a sort of critical pile-on against Cimino, based more on his personality and on the film's troubled production than on its actual merits.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:07 AM
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Also, all those John Hughes films are kind of suspect now.
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:26 AM
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Also, all those John Hughes films are kind of suspect now.
I'd guess that a lot of popular 1980s era comedies would be currently reviewed with a bunch of "that's so wrong and terrible" comments from modern younger reviewers. I don't know if a separation should be made between reappraisals from critics who saw it at the time and now say "I thought it was good but it's actually pretty crap" and times when you just have new critics viewing through a modern lens and objecting to content that was, at the time, acceptable in a movie.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:09 AM
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Groundhog Day was initially received as a good movie - but its reputation has grown immensely since then https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground...ical_reception
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:17 AM
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Groundhog Day was initially received as a good movie - but its reputation has grown immensely since then https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground...ical_reception
I always wondered why Multiplicity never got the same love as Groundhog Day; it had a lot of the same elements going for it. I think this was made around the time Bill Murray stopped taking Harold Ramis's phone calls, so they had to "settle" for Michael Keaton.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:39 AM
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It appears that The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne had a mixed reception at the time, before going on to be one of the more revered of English novels. (I was aware of Samuel Johnson's unfortunate comment: "Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last").

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Old 11-12-2019, 11:02 AM
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There has been a revival of interest in The Room by Tommy Wiseau, especially with the release of The Disaster Artist a few years ago. It's still an awful film, but people revel in the awfulness.

Rocky Horror Picture Show was a bomb when released. It's now a camp classic, even beyond the traditional midnight showings.
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:30 AM
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There has been a revival of interest in The Room by Tommy Wiseau, especially with the release of The Disaster Artist a few years ago. It's still an awful film, but people revel in the awfulness.

Rocky Horror Picture Show was a bomb when released. It's now a camp classic, even beyond the traditional midnight showings.
In this regard, you could also include Plan 9 From Outer Space, but I wouldn't say the critical response has changed much.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:26 AM
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:28 AM
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Very definitely Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn --- and not for the reason it's controversial today. It was seen as irredeemably crude and unworthy of a good author. Louisa May Alcott (who lived in Concord, MA) condemned the book :

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Writer Louisa May Alcott criticized the book's publication as well, saying that if Twain "[could not] think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses he had best stop writing for them".
Not coincidentally, the book was banned from the Concord public library

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The Concord (Mass.) Public Library committee has decided to exclude Mark Twain's latest book from the library. One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type. He regards it as the veriest trash. The library and the other members of the committee entertain similar views, characterizing it as rough, coarse, and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.
Says the Wikipedia article on it:

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Twain later remarked to his editor, "Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as 'trash and only suitable for the slums.' This will sell us another twenty-five thousand copies for sure!"
(I've been there to check -- they now have several editions of Huckleberry Finn. And of Louisa May Alcott's books).

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In 1905, New York's Brooklyn Public Library also banned the book due to "bad word choice" and Huck's having "not only itched but scratched" within the novel, which was considered obscene. When asked by a Brooklyn librarian about the situation, Twain sardonically replied:


I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote 'Tom Sawyer' & 'Huck Finn' for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.[29]
Nowadays the book is condemned for its depiction of slavery and use of the word "nigger", which is pretty ironic considering that it's the story of a boy from the antebellum South who learns for himself the evil of slavery and its effects.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent...ckleberry_Finn
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:47 AM
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Radiohead's Kid A was not well received.

I have a possibly false memory of a rather harsh Rolling Stone review with barbs like "everything is in the wrong place," "sounds like a marching band crashing into a brick wall," and " airless and entombed in chrome"... But I recall a revision where they bumped up the star rating to four or five relatively quickly. I might be recalling it wrong tho.

At any rate, the initial reviews from other outlets were blunt and scathing.

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Old 11-12-2019, 12:16 PM
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It's a Wonderful Life wasn't the critical bomb as the legends make it out to be, but it WAS considered kind of meh by most critics, and it's a fact that it lost money on the initial release. As holiday movies go, Miracle on 34th Street (which was actually released in May) received a better response from critics, and won three Academy Awards (four nominations) while IAWL was 0 for 5.

And consider that Barbara Stanwyck's Christmas in Connecticut, released in 1945, outgrossed both of them on its first release.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:22 PM
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"The Searchers" is now a major critical darling; it is often cited as the greatest Western of all time, and one of the best movies ever.

Absolutely no one thought this when it came out. It was not regarded as an especially good movie by anyone. It was only after a few years when a few French auteurs, primarily Jean Luc Godard, claimed it was great a deep, and American critics who had dismissed it just a few years before rushed to agree and started appending interpretations and nuance to it that anyone suggested it was great.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:04 PM
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"The Searchers" is now a major critical darling; it is often cited as the greatest Western of all time, and one of the best movies ever.

Absolutely no one thought this when it came out. It was not regarded as an especially good movie by anyone. It was only after a few years when a few French auteurs, primarily Jean Luc Godard, claimed it was great a deep, and American critics who had dismissed it just a few years before rushed to agree and started appending interpretations and nuance to it that anyone suggested it was great.
I was under the impression The Searchers received generally favorable reviews but was considered par for the course for John Ford--an entertaining western but nothing truly special like his Oscar-winning efforts (e.g., The Grapes of Wrath or The Quiet Man).
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Old 11-16-2019, 04:09 PM
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"The Searchers" is now a major critical darling; it is often cited as the greatest Western of all time, and one of the best movies ever.

Absolutely no one thought this when it came out. It was not regarded as an especially good movie by anyone. It was only after a few years when a few French auteurs, primarily Jean Luc Godard, claimed it was great a deep, and American critics who had dismissed it just a few years before rushed to agree and started appending interpretations and nuance to it that anyone suggested it was great.
Wikipedia paints a more favorable picture of its initial critical reception:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Searchers#Reception
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:26 PM
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Vincent Van Gogh was a total failure in his lifetime. I bet you he would have given yu one of his paintings for free. Today it would be worth millions
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:27 PM
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"The Searchers" is now a major critical darling; it is often cited as the greatest Western of all time, and one of the best movies ever.

Absolutely no one thought this when it came out. It was not regarded as an especially good movie by anyone. It was only after a few years when a few French auteurs, primarily Jean Luc Godard, claimed it was great and deep, and American critics who had dismissed it just a few years before rushed to agree and started appending interpretations and nuance to it, that anyone suggested it was great.
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:04 PM
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How about Brown Bunny? It famously had a premature release at Cannes, and Roger Ebert was at his scathing best. Later it was recut to better reflect the director's wishes, and suddenly all the apparently interminable motorcycle racing, for example, made sense to the point where Ebert recanted his original criticism. The use of narrative devices for the time frame that slowly emerges was cleverly done. So was the repetition of the critical story beforethe audience knew what the critical story was.

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Old 11-12-2019, 06:47 PM
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The Great Gatsby was both a critical and commercial failure when it first came out. Fitzgerald was a young god because of his first novels but this failure almost destroyed his career, and possibly him.

Andy Warhol was reviled throughout his career, but his work as a whole now looks good in retrospect. I just visited the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and it was an impressive collection.

Same for Yoko Ono. Has anyone garnered more hate than her? But feminist critics have re-examined her work and found it original and meaningful. Again, I happened to see a retrospective of her work at the San Francisco MOMA and it converted me.

Science fiction as a genre was considered for decades to be fit only for sub-literates. The rockets and atomic bombs in WWII prompted a short-lived recognition in the early 1950s, and then the newer writers that developed in the 1960s forced admissions that it could have literary merit. But it still needs to be rediscovered every 20 years or so when the mainstream literary crowd suddenly "get it."
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Old 11-12-2019, 06:59 PM
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How about the Gettysburg Address?
It is famous that the speaker before Lincoln spoke for a long time, but I thought people right away recognized that Lincoln's speech was a lot better.

When did the Gettysburg Address become widely known?
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:42 AM
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Andy Warhol was reviled throughout his career
He was also lauded.
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Old 11-13-2019, 02:09 PM
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He was also lauded.
I can say with absolute confidence that every artist and work of art mentioned in this thread was lauded by someone. What's your point?
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Old 11-13-2019, 03:30 PM
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What's your point?
That critical acknowledgement of Warhol now isn't as much of a reversal as you'd seem to indicate, more a case of one half of an argument winning out in the end.
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Old 11-13-2019, 06:20 AM
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The music of the Carpenters, with a focus on Karen Carpenter's singing. I was just a kid when they were first popular, but I can remember how older kids and young adults thought they were the dullest thing imaginable. A review I can't find at the moment (in Rolling Stone I think) of a live show spent more time criticizing their clothes and haircuts than than the performance. In High Weirdness by Mail, the Subgenius Church founder Ivan Stang listed a Karen Carpenter fan club as one of the nut groups, marveling that "these people (were) serious, trying to convince us that 'Skinny' was the greatest singer of all time". The Carpenters image as perfectly content youngsters (in contrast with the anger of much of the era's music) seemed to make critics overlook the depth and suffering beneath some of their best material, which got another look following Karen's sad death. As Johnny Marr put it (not the British musician, but the California author of the zine "Murder Can Be Fun"), "'Rainy Days and Mondays' never sounded the same again".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
[I]Same for Yoko Ono. Has anyone garnered more hate than her? But feminist critics have re-examined her work and found it original and meaningful. Again, I happened to see a retrospective of her work at the San Francisco MOMA and it converted me.
I don't know much about art, but her musical performances still make me cringe. But don't take my word, take Chuck's.
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:23 PM
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The most critically acclaimed and popular author of the 19th century US was Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth.

The best and most successful American author of the first decade of the 20th century was Winston Churchill, so much so that a UK politician asked permission to use his own name when writing. Of course, now the politician is a bit better known.

There are very few who have read either Southworth or Churchill these days. Sic transit gloria mundi.
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