Ralph Ellison on Richard Wright Among Others... (Direction Magazine, 1941)
Printed just twelve years before he would receive a National Book Award for his tour de force, "The Invisible Man", celebrated wordsmith Ralph Ellison (1914 – 1994) wrote this review of "Negro fiction" for a short-lived but informed arts magazine in which he rolled out some deep thoughts regarding Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neil Hurston and assorted other ink-slingers of African descent:
"It is no accident that the two most advanced Negro writers, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, have been men who have enjoyed freedom of association with advanced white writers; nor is it accidental that they have had the greatest effect upon Negro life."
Click here to read a 1929 book review by Langston Hughes.
CLICK HERE to read about African-Americans during the Great Depression.
Propaganda Radio (Direction Magazine, 1941)
This magazine article first appeared on American newsstands during February of 1941; at that time the U.S. was ten months away from even considering that W.W. II was an American cause worthy of Yankee blood and treasure; yet, the journalist who penned the attached column believed that American radio audiences were steadily fed programming designed to win them over to the interventionist corner. He believed that it was rare for isolationists to ever be granted time before the microphones and quite common for newscasters to linger a bit longer on any news item that listed the hardships in France and Britain. Objectivity was also missing in matters involving the broadcasting of popular song:
The morning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt stood before the microphones in the well of the U.S. Capitol and became the first president to ever broadcast a declaration of war; CLICK HERE to hear about the reactions of the American public during his broadcast...
Government Subsidized Art (Direction Magazine, 1938)
This 1938 editorial by the artist Philip Evergood (1901 - 1973) stated that the Federal Arts Project of the Thirties had not simply made the lives of artists a little better, but had also created a far better society:
"The Federal Arts Project has pointed the way to an American Culture. It has set a weight in motion, it has let loose a force that has affected hundreds of thousands of lives. It has made murals depicting the history of our country and the lives of our people have been placed on the walls of our schools, hospitals, libraries and public buildings making them of greater beauty and of greater community interest - monuments and small sculpture have been added in equal numbers, easel paintings and prints now hang in thousands on the walls of public buildings..."
Evergood likened this government funding to the Renaissance, when the church served as the artist's patron and culture flourished.
Tales of the Assinibone Tribe (Direction Magazine, 1942)
"Land of the Nakoda: The Story of the Assinibone Indians" was the brain child of the Montana WPA (Works Progress Administration), Writers Project. The book is a collection of tales as told by the tribe elders and transcribed by one other member for publication in book form and it is still in print today.
Charlie Chaplin's Credo (Direction Magazine, 1941)
"This, the much-discussed final speech in "The Great Dictator", is more than a climax and conclusion to Chaplin's newest film, it is a statement of Chaplin's belief in humanity, a belief in which his creative powers and artistic development are deeply rooted."
"Hope...I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible -Jew, Gentile -black man -white."
••Watch Chaplin's Performance in this Clip••
Thoughts on the American Films of 1941 (Direction Magazine, 1941)
Here is a film review from DIRECTION MAGAZINE that discussed many of the forthcoming movies of 1941 and how they so rarely depict American culture in an accurate light:
"In bringing back the usual revelations from a trip through the Middle West, I want to repeat the oft-declared amazement that American films... reflect the barest minimum of the American scene in these United States. The rare attempts of the "Grapes of Wrath" and "Primrose Path" to seek and show new dramatic settings, are the exceptions that prove the rule of formula."
Many of the American films of 1941 are listed herein and the article can be printed.
The Wunderkind: Orson Welles (Direction Magazine, 1941)
The attached magazine profile is from a short-lived but much admired American magazine containing many sweet words regarding the unstoppable Orson Welles (1915 - 1985) and his appearance in the Archibald McLeish (1892 – 1982) play, "Panic" (directed by John Houseman, 1902 — 1988).
1941 was another great year for the "boy genius" who seemed to effortlessly triumph with all his theatrical and film ventures. At the time this appeared in print, Welles was filming "The Magnificent Ambersons", having recently pocketed an Oscar for his collaborative writing efforts in "Citizen Cane". Highly accomplished and multi-married, no study of American entertainment is complete without mention of his name. The anonymous scribe who penned the attached article remarked:
"No pretentiously shy Saroyan courtship of an audience about Welles! He really loves his relation to the public. He doesn't flirt with it."
The Native Contribution to Latin America (Direction Magazine, 1941)
Architect Rudolf Schindler (Direction Magazine, 1945)
Esther McCoy (1904 - 1989) was one of the few voices in Forties journalism to champion modern architecture in the city Los Angeles. Sadly, the common thinking among too many critics and editors at the time held that "Gomorrah-Sur-la-Mer" could only to be relied upon for innovations like Cobb Salad and valet parking - but McCoy recognized that the city's dramatic quality of light and odd lunar landscape combined to create fertile ground for modern architecture. Unlike other like-minded critics and historians who discovered the city in later decades, such as Reyner Banham, McCoy came to know the Viena-trained architect Rudolph Schindler, who is the subject of this 1945 article.
Leftist Cartoonist Art Young (Direction Magazine, 1938)
Artist Gilbert Wilson conducted this interview with American socialist cartoonist Art Young (1866 – 1943) which appeared in DIRECTION MAGAZINE during the summer of 1938. In the fullness of time, Art Young has come to be recognized as something of a demi-god in the American poison pen pantheon of graphic satirists and no study of Twentieth Century political cartoons is complete without him:
"Art Young has never adopted the policy of tearing into his foe (which is capitalism) with tooth and claw. It simply isn't his way. He just isn't capable of hating anyone or anything badly enough to get that angry."
"Isn't it rather the duty of a good radical, as Lenin said, 'Patiently to explain'?"