"the American public"

Film WellesNet is running a series of posts gathering the memos sent to Orson Welles during the torturous (some would say criminal) post-production process on his broken masterpiece The Magnificent Ambersons. They've reached the preview process and the first public showing of a rough cut of the film.

For some unknown reason they decided the perfect receivers of Orson's vision would be an audience of cinema-goers in Pomona who'd already enjoyed a screening of The Fleet's In, a Paramount musical starring Dorothy Lamour and William Holden.

By reputation that screening was a disaster, but what WellesNet reveals is that just under a third of the audience provided positive comments on their survey cards, in some cases to the point of predicting the film's on-going reputation and like the best cineastes complaining about the audience's behaviour and the length of the film:
"Yes. The picture is magnificent. The direction, acting, photography, and special effects are the best the cinema has yet offered. It is unfortunate that the American public, as represented at this theatre, are unable to appreciate fine art. it might be, perhaps, criticized for being a bit too long."
Unfortunately, the idea of the "art" film was rarely considered in Hollywood unless the topic was considered worthy enough to receive a "serious" treatment and so the execs went with the majority of that audience and the rest is history.

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