Film review by noted critic a rerun, retracted

french cinemaMany devotees of French film consider Jean Renoir’s 1939 La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) to be the best example of the genre, and indeed of movie making writ large.

Bad cut alert: One of the rules of the publishing game is, “ne pas plagier,” which we don’t think we need to translate here.

But that’s something that Robert Cardullo seems to have neglected. Cardullo, of Izmir University of Economics in Turkey, isn’t a nobody in the world of film criticism (you can say movie reviewing if you like, we won’t mind). Here’s a bio from Mellen Press:

Dr. Bert Cardullo has his Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. An editor and translator as well as a critic and dramaturg, Professor Cardullo has published over twenty books, among them Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1890-1950: A Critical Anthology and Screening the Stage: Studies in Cinedramatic Art. His articles have appeared in such leading journals as The Yale Review, Cambridge Quarterly, and American Theatre, and he is the regular film critic for The Hudson Review in New York. Dr. Cardullo has served on the theatre-and-film advisory panel of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has twice been appointed a Fulbright Scholar.

The paper in question appeared last year in Studies in French Cinema. Titled “Cinema as social documentary,” it reviewed the work of the legendary French critic André Bazin:

Traditionally, the discipline of film studies has associated the idea that cinema can bring the ‘truth’ to the screen with one theorist: André Bazin. But this notion is highly simplistic. Only 6 per cent of Bazin’s total writings (amounting to almost 2600 articles and reviews) saw the light of day later through republication in anthologies or edited collections; and any reading of the remaining 94 per cent of these writings (which basically are little known to date) makes it clear that Bazin was not so naïve. Fiction films do tell the truth, but mainly in the way that dreams do: that is, by revealing what people ‘really’ think or want or believe regardless of their conscious awareness. What is the nature of this ‘truth’ as told by any fiction film? How can one reconcile such a theoretical perspective on the truth with what is regarded as the Bazinian ontologically realist theory of the cinema? This article will attempt to answer these questions through the in-depth analysis of a specific article by Bazin, one of his early (dated 1947) and important ones: ‘Tout film est un documentaire social’/’Every film is a social documentary’, as well as through a wide range of examples taken from other, mostly unfamiliar writings by Bazin.

Evidently, that was a movie readers had seen before. According to the retraction notice:

The article by Cardullo, ‘Cinema as social documentary’, first published in Studies in French Cinema, Volume 13, Issue 1 (2013) (DOI:10.1386/sfc.13.1.33_1) has been retracted. This article contains significant overlap with the article ‘André Bazin: film as social documentary’ previously published by Marco Grosoli, in the journal New Readings, (

This notice on IngentaConnect gives us a bit of a closeup on the matter (and we have no idea why it’s different):

The article by Bert Cardullo, ‘Cinema as social documentary’, in volume 13 number 1 (2013) has been retracted due to plagiarism. Fifty-eight per cent of the article reproduces an article previously published in 2012 by Marco Grosoli, ‘André Bazin: film as social documentary’, in the online journal ‘New Readings’ (

Here’s the abstract from that article:

Traditionally in Film Studies, the idea of cinema being able to put the truth on screen has been associated with one particular film theorist, namely André Bazin. However, only 6% of Bazin’s almost 2600 articles has been republished in anthologies or edited essay collections and reading the remaining 94% of these writings (which to date basically remains widely unread) makes it clear that Bazin was not so naïve. This paper focuses on an essay from 1947, one of Bazin’s first and most important, “Tout film est un documentaire social” [“Every Film is a Social Documentary”]. It suggests that fiction films can tell the truth, but mainly in the way that dreams do, by revealing what people really think, or their collective unconsciousness, regardless of their conscious awareness. What is this truth which is told by any fiction film? How can one reconcile this theoretical perspective with Bazinian ontological theory of cinema in general? This article seeks to answer these questions by means of an in-depth analysis of that essay and of a wide range of examples taken from other, mostly unknown writings by Bazin.

In fact, Cardullo’s, um, originality as a thinker and writer has already come up for questioning. The blog Widower’s Tango, for example, has called him out, including in a 2012 post titled “Where Did I Read That Before?”

Quite by chance, in August 2010, I read an article in The New Yorker (on its website, that is) by Richard Brody called “Truffaut’s Last Interview“, reprinting an interview with a seriously ill Truffaut (he died soon after from a brain tumor) purportedly conducted by Bert Cardullo. An observant reader left a comment mentioning the coincidence of the wording in the interviews with material included on the Criterion DVD of The 400 Blows. Since I had the DVD with me, I checked them for similarities and published my discoveries on this blog in October 2010, “Francois and Bert, Parts I & II“.

When I brought this to the attention of Gary Morris, who had co-edited the book of interviews with Cardullo, he forwarded my articles, including one I wrote in 2006 for Senses of Cinema which I then republished concerning the first instance of plagiarism from Cardullo that I discovered, to Richard Brody, who discovered even further examples of Cardullo’s plagiarizing and published them in another article, “About Truffaut’s Last Interview“.

This inspired further revelations from other readers, and what I believed, and perhaps hoped, would be my last word on the subject, “An Unravelling” in December 2010. That article inspired yet further comments from readers, including two from just last week, that I have decided to reprint below – if only to get them more out in the open.

Could it be, then, that Cardullo’s work is nothing but a … Grand Illusion?

Update, 4:30 p.m. Eastern, 1/28/14: Thanks to a reader, we now know that Cardullo’s got something of a body of work in the plagiarism department. The Cambridge Quarterly in 2012 retracted four of his articles:

Bert Cardullo, ‘Attention, Attention Must Finally Be Unpaid: Death of a Salesman and the Reputation of Arthur Miller’, Cambridge Quarterly 40/4 (2011) pp. 328-341

Bert Cardullo, ‘Farce, Dreams, and Desire: Some Like It Hot Re-Viewed’, Cambridge Quarterly 39/2 (2010) pp.142-151

Bert Cardullo, ‘Married to the Job: Ermanno Olmi’s Il posto and I fidanzati Reconsidered’, Cambridge Quarterly 38/2 (2009) pp.120-129

Bert Cardullo, ‘Look Back in Bemusement: The New American Cinema, 1965-1970’, Cambridge Quarterly 37/4 (2008) pp. 375-386

The articles listed above have been retracted at the request of the Editors with the support of the Publisher owing to issues of plagiarism and duplicate publication.

We thank the reader who alerted us to the plagiarism in ‘Farce, Dreams and Desire’, which is substantially copied from Stanley Kauffmann’s ‘Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot’ (Horizon XV/1 (1973) pp. 65-70), and in ‘Married to the Job’, which is substantially copied from Stanley Kauffman’s reviews of ‘The Sound of Trumpets’ (The New Republic, 12 August 1963) and ‘The Fiancés’ (The New Republic, 15 February 1964).

Following further investigation, it was determined that ‘Look Back in Bemusement’ was a duplicate publication of Bert Cardullo, ‘Look Back in Bemusement: The New American Cinema, 1965-1970’, in Cinematic Illusions: Realism, Subjectivity, and the Avant-Garde (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne 2007) pp.1-7, while ‘Attention, Attention’ was a duplicate publication of Bert Cardullo, ‘Death of a Salesman, life of a Jew: ethnicity, business, and the character of Willy Loman’, Southwest Review (2007) 22 September.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

4 thoughts on “Film review by noted critic a rerun, retracted”

  1. (annoyingly, the retraction notice is behind a paywall)

    How can the scientific community examine suspicious publications when all references including letters to editors questioning certain findings are behind paywalls ? Doesn’t that hinder research misconduct detection?

  2. “RETRACTION (January 13, 2018)
    The editors of The Midwest Quarterly unanimously retract Robert James Cardullo’s article “Divining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of Andre Bazin” published in the Winter 2010 issue of The Midwest Quarterly (vol. 51.2). The article is a wholesale plagiarism of an article by Peter Matthews, “Divining the Real” published in Sight & Sound August 1999 (vol. 9.8).

    We are appalled at this example of academic misconduct and extend sincere apologies to Peter Matthews and the editors of Sight & Sound.”

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