Judith Crist, one of the most feared film critics ever to grace the pages of a newspaper, died on Tuesday. She was 90.
Crist was unrelenting in her reviews, preferring not to sugar-coat the already sappy influx of movies that deluged the scene during the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s. She was a champion for real, gritty films before such things were popular, calling even the hugely successful “Sound Of Music” out for talking down to viewers.
“Icky-sticky…. The movie is for the 5-to-7 set and their mommies who think the kids aren’t up to the stinging sophistication and biting wit of Mary Poppins,” she wrote.
While Crist was published in the New York Herald Tribune–she was one of the first full-time female critics to be included in a major American newspaper–she also taught critical writing courses at prestigious Columbia University, and did so until just this year. Despite her enormous contribution to the world of film, however–Roger Ebert credits her with helping to bring film critics and their opinions into the national vocabulary–she was also heralded as poison by many in the industry. Some studios actually banned her from advanced screenings, and she earned a nasty reputation by those she had burned. Still, she managed to inspire many who would grow up to make critiquing films their business.
“She was outwardly motivated, where so many critics are inwardly motivated and are concerned just with their own thoughts,” Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times said. “She was about other generations, about this way of writing, showing other people how to do it. She created a legacy of critics whom she taught for decades. No one else did that.”
Image credit: Thomas Victor