James Sibley Watson, doctor and Western Union heir, will be famous to some as publisher and president of The Dial, the literary magazine which, more than any other publication, brought Modernism to America. Under Watson’s patronage, the magazine was the first to publish T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land stateside, brought the work of Picasso, Munch, Chagall and many others to a major American audience for the first time, and regularly featured D.H Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Virginia Woolf, Edmund Wilson, Bertrand Russell, John Dos Passos, etc. etc.
To others, Watson will be known for directing The Fall of the House of Usher and Lot in Sodom, important early works in the American Avant-Garde. Heavily influenced by the poetic theories of Ezra Pound and E.E Cummings (Cummings worked with Watson on treatments for Usher) and the cinematic innovations of German Expressionism and Jean Cocteau, these films are literary, hallucinatory and often nightmarish experiments in film language and the unconscious.
We here at A/V, however, prefer his even less well known Tomato is Another Day, which strikes us as an unparalleled bit of Dadaist pranksterdom and parody whose pun-heavy critique of Hollywood writing and directing styles, at six and a half minutes long and eighty-two years old, still resonates more forcefully and hilariously then most that have followed.