Keywords: Italian Film Criticism; Cultural Intermediaries; Judgment Devices; Artistic Legitimation; Italian Neo-Idealistic Aesthetics.
A cultural intermediary becomes crucial in areas where consumer choice is not usually based only on price, but rather on the quality of the product. This is the case of the film market. In Italy during the inter-war period, film studios were increasing the number of devices by which they could publicize their products; simultaneously, film criticism made its appearance in quality newspapers and magazines. This paper shows how the most influential critics, well-read in the humanities but devoid of cinematic expertise, tried to steer the taste of the educated middle classes. Even though in the following decades the space of film criticism would increasingly represent a «field» in Bourdieu's terms, that kind of expertise has never become a fundamental requirement for quality newspapers and magazines. To explain this phenomenon, this article aims to connect it to the degree of artistic legitimacy enjoyed by film in the social space.