James Plath is R. Forrest Colwell Chair and Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he teaches film, journalism, creative writing, and American literature since 1850. A former book reviewer, he became a film critic in 2000, writing for Reel.com (a subsidiary of Hollywood Videos) and DVD Town/Movie Metropolis before both sites shut down. He is the editor of one scholarly volume on film—Critical Insights Film: Casablanca—and the editor-author of two books on John Updike, two on Ernest Hemingway, and one on Raymond Carver. He was one of the first entertainment journalists invited to tour and report on Pixar Canada and also part of the first wave of movie reviewers to go to Hollywood to watch demonstrations of what was then a brand-new format: Blu-ray discs. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a former Tomatometer Critic at Rotten Tomatoes.
Silent films The Dumb Girl of Portici and Shoes reveal two sides of the early Hollywood director: the filmmaker who wanted to tell epic stories on a grand scale, and the social activist who wanted her films to spark discussion and prompt change.