James Agee (American, 1909-1955)

Author James Agee was one of the preeminent film critics of the twentieth century. After growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Agee attended Harvard University and then worked at Fortune and Time. He is noted for his ability to critique films and plays in layman’s terms rather than using convoluted terminology. Along with being a critic, he wrote several scripts and plays including The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter, as well as a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family.

He is photographed by his collaborator Walker Evans. They toured the South together for a project that became the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941) in which they showcased impoverished tenant farmers during the Great Depression. Here Agee looks road-weary, as this intense close up shows him squinting from the bright southern sun.