Monday, March 6, 2017

Stanley and Bert

"Is there no by-law in America to prevent dogs from entering cemeteries?" (Charles Baudelaire, commenting on the scabrous notices in the American press on the death of Edgar Allan Poe.)


When Stanley Kauffmann died on October 9, 2013, it was an almost seismic event in my life, as if I had lost a great teacher and mentor. His film column had been a fixture of The New Republic for fifty-five years and he had been my film guide for more than forty of them. I started reading Kauffmann at the same moment in my life that I began to discover the wider world of film, a world whose existence had been carefully kept from me by my own native film industry. It was no accident, then, that the first collection of his reviews was called A World on Film.

Kauffmann had been an informal member of a group of critics that included Dwight Macdonald, John Simon, Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris. It was these critics who ushered in what became known as the Golden Age of film criticism in America. Of these critics, however, only John Simon is still with us, but he gave up writing about film more than a decade ago. Consequently, I have always been on the lookout for good film critics to replace the ones I have lost. When I started to read the essays of Bert Cardullo in The Hudson Review in the 1990s, I believed that I had found one.

But something was wrong. It's one thing to recognize when a critic is in agreement not just with one's own judgements, but also with those of one's other favorite critics. It's quite another thing to discover that the likeness is more than coincidental. When I discovered that the published articles that Cardullo produced resembled - verbatim - the writings of Vernon Young and Kauffmann, my emotions ran a gamut from puzzlement to sadness, and eventually to outrage.

An Australian online film journal known as Senses of Cinema published my review of Cardullo's book, In Search of Cinema: Writings on International Film Art in 2007. In the review I supplied direct evidence that Cardullo had stolen, for two of his articles in the book, the entirety of an essay written by Vernon Young. The Senses editor was reluctant at first to publish the piece because, she told me, it had been a few years since the book was published. She very bravely went ahead with publishing it. As far as I can tell, it was the first editorial notice of Bert Cardullo's theft of another writer's work.

Cardullo is an admirer of both Vernon Young and Stanley Kauffmann. So much so that he edited collections of their writings. This is especially worrisome when you consider that these two writers - Kauffmann in particular - seem to have been singled out by Cardullo for plagiaization.

Then, in 2010, New Yorker critic Richard Brody took the time to publish what he called, "Truffaut's Last Interview," which was reportedly conducted by Cardullo just before Truffaut's death from a cancerous brain tumor. The interview had been stolen, as I soon discovered, from various interviews that Brody later found readily available on YouTube. Brody questioned Cardullo about this by phone (Cardullo was teaching in Turkey at the time) and got a quite feeble explanation from him: that Truffaut was very ill and, in lieu of an interview, told him to glean what he wanted from other recorded interviews.

I published a blog post called Fran├žois & Bert at the time, and have published several posts since then based on further information I received as comments to these posts. Cardullo has since then turned to capitalizing on the work of Stanley Kauffmann by publishing, with two different publishers, collections of the writings of Stanley Kauffmann. Last year I wrote the director of one of these publishing houses, Anaphora Press, informing her of Cardullo's widely-held reputation as a plagiarist. This resulted in my blog post "Date Due" from January 2016.   

Last week, I received an anonymous comment on that post that I have since published. It reads in part:

"A few years ago I posted on your blog some of the more blatant examples of Cardullo's cut and paste jobs, hoping they might alert publishers to his shady name and game. I also contacted many of the publishers of Cardullo's stolen work, and, like you, had a very strange exchange with Anaphora Press, whose director defended publishing Cardullo by saying that even the "Harry Potter" books contained plagiarisms. So, I shared both your obsession with exposing Cardullo as a plagiarist, and your disheartening feeling that, in spite of some very public retractions of his literary thefts, he was going to continue ransacking the work of good writers simply because publishers were not carefully checking either his dubious record or the purloined work he submitted. [...] Happy endings are so are rare in any strand of my life, that I really wanted to share this one with you. The following recent articles indicate that Cardullo has (probably) finally been stopped:

RIT faces suit over book of film critic's essays

RIT sued over book of late movie critic Stanley Kauffmann's columns

It's wonderful that Kauffmann's estate is very determined to make public, through the courts and the press, the extent of Cardullo's fraud. For me, your blog played an early and important part in the long campaign to expose him as a serial plagiarist."


One of the links the author of the comment supplied reads as follows:

'RIT sued over book of late movie critic Stanley Kauffmann's columns

Gary Craig Jan. 31, 2017

The Rochester Institute of Technology was duped by a serial plagiarist when it published a book of the works of the renowned film critic Stanley Kauffmann, a lawsuit alleges.

The RIT Press has halted publication of the book, The Millennial Critic, and tried to recall copies it has sold, court papers show. But the estate of Kauffmann, who died at the age of 97 in 2013 , is continuing with a federal lawsuit that seeks damages.

The lawsuit was originally filed in a federal court in New York City but was transferred this week, over the objections of an attorney for the estate, to a Rochester-based federal court.

Kauffmann was the lead film critic at The New Republic for five decades. Upon his death, The New York Times wrote that his reviews "set a standard for critical ease and erudition."

At the center of the controversy is Robert "Bert" Cardullo, who represented to RIT that he had the rights to Kauffmann essays and writings. Cardullo, who has taught film and theatre courses at different universities, has been accused of plagiarism in academic circles.
A letter presented to RIT Press which showed he had the rights to Kauffmann's work was a forgery, the lawsuit alleges.

Cardullo's current location appears to be a mystery. Records show he was recently teaching in Turkey, though the university there does not now list him on its website. The whereabouts of Cardullo could be important for lawyers for RIT, who are considering suing him for his representations.

The Democrat and Chronicle has unsuccessfully attempted to reach Cardullo via an email he used in late 2015.

In court papers, Kenneth Norwick, an attorney for Kauffmann's estate, argues that a simple Google search should have alerted RIT Press to many questions about Cardullo's veracity.

"If RIT made even a rudimentary first-page only Google search for 'Bert Cardullo' before relying on, if it did, any representations by him, it would have readily discovered his history and reputation as a plagiarist," Norwick wrote in the lawsuit.

RIT officials declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Other Institutions Also Taken In

In a telephone interview, Norwick, who is based in New York City, said Cardullo also bamboozled others into publishing Kauffmann-connected works. The estate is pursuing action with those also, he said.

With the lawsuit against RIT, "there is the issue of damages and there is the issue of making an official acknowledgment of what's going on here," he said. "The lawsuit will establish that RIT infringed (on the copyright for Kauffmann's works) and Cardullo is responsible for those infringements."

After Kauffmann's death, his estate learned of the RIT Press book through an Amazon search, Norwick said.

"Once the executor ... learned about the RIT book he did some further research and found numerous other examples of Cardullo-perpetrated infringements," Norwick said. "We've settled with some and we're in contact with others."

The lawsuit was first filed in April 2016. Months before that, representatives of the estate reached out to RIT Press about the possible copyright violations.

Those contacts prompted an angry email from Cardullo, who threatened to "upload (the book) to multiple Internet sites" if RIT Press was not told it could continue to sell the book.

"I am not in this for the money," Cardullo wrote. "RIT Press and I have performed a service for the late Mr. Kauffmann, in his memory. Please honor that memory by desisting. If you do not, I have spelled out the consequences."

According to the lawsuit, Cardullo did post a copy of the book on the Internet.'


Like Cardullo, I am not in this - exposing his outrageous career as a plagiarist - for the money. As you, dear reader, can affirm, I opted against including ads on my blog. The number of views that my posts manage to attract doesn't enrich me in any way, except in the knowledge that one more reader knows who and what Bert Cardullo is. That is my only reward, and it is enough.

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