Louis Giannetti, film professor


Lou Giannetti wrote the first and most widely-used film textbook in the United States, modestly titled Understating Movies. Back in the 1970s, when the first editions came out, he felt that “film” was pretentious. “Movies” were what he had seen as a kid growing up Italian in Boston. Since then the book was gone through 11 editions, making it the best-selling book about film of any kind. With Masters of the American Cinema and Flashback: A Brief History of Film, which also cycle through editions, Lou achieved super-star status in academic publishing.

When I first met Lou in 1980, he was living in a couple of rooms on Euclid Heights Boulevard. Then he moved to a bungalow farther out and started raising tomatoes, and then he became a Napoleonic gardener. Now he has a half acre of flowers, trees, vegetables and ornamental whatnot under cultivation. Inside, his house is packed with art.

I love this photographically incorrect picture of Lou from 2005. He was seated and looked very happy, so I snapped without paying attention to the light. As you can see, he seems to retreat from strong light, but to reflect it from the shadows. That struck me as just.

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