UCLA Prof Comments on Pauline Kael’s Research Theft

If UCLA professor emeritus Howard Suber one day finds himself sitting in a chair in his dying old age, muttering about a traumatic, formative turning point, his golden whispered word could well be “research.”

As detailed in Brian Kellow‘s October 27 biography of revered film critic Pauline Kael, the famed journalist was guilty of stealing Suber’s groundbreaking Orson Welles research for a two-part 1971 New Yorker article “Raising Kane.” Suber cooperated with the author and is now commenting in the media for the first time about this resurrected scandal, via a Brent Lang bylined article today on TheWrap:

“I take no satisfaction in the story coming out,” Suber said. “I was depressed over the weekend, despite getting included in the New York Times and New Yorker reviews, because it did stir up a lot of painful memories…”

Suber agreed to participate in Kellow’s biography only after he learned that the author had unearthed Kael’s original notes for the piece in her papers at the Indiana University Library. It turned out her reference material consisted almost wholly of Suber’s research. What’s more, Suber now says that Kael promised to split the profits and give him a co-writing credit.

Suber eventually got a kiss-off check from Kael for $375. He tells Lang that if he knew then what he knows now about copyright law, he would have “sued her ass.” Peter Bogdanovich gets credit from Lang for raising this contentious issue way before Kellow, via a 1972 Esquire article.