Film critic Judith Crist dies at 90

NEW YORK – Judith Crist, a blunt and popular film critic for the "Today" show, TV Guide and the New York Herald Tribune whose reviews were at times so harsh that director Otto Preminger labeled her "Judas Crist," has died. She was 90.

Her son, Steven Crist, said his mother died Tuesday at her Manhattan home after a long illness.

Starting in 1963, at the Tribune, Crist wrote about and discussed thousands of movies, and also covered theater and books. She was among the first reviewers of her time to gain a national following, and Roger Ebert credited her with helping to make all film critics better known, including such contemporaries as The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice.

With the growing recognition of such foreign directors as Francois Truffaut and Federico Fellini, and the rise of such American filmmakers as Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese, the 1960s and 1970s were an inspiring time for movie reviewers. But Crist’s trademark quickly became the putdown.

An early review was for "Spencer’s Mountain," a sentimental family melodrama starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara. Unmoved by a story that became the basis for the TV series "The Waltons," Crist denounced the film’s "sheer prurience and perverted morality" and cracked that "it makes the nudie shows at the Rialto look like Walt Disney productions."

The critic really poured it on for "Cleopatra," the budget-busting historical epic that starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and was overwhelmed by the actors’ off-screen love affair. "At best a major disappointment, at worst an extravagant exercise in tedium," Crist called the film, dismissing Taylor as "an entirely physical creature, no depth of emotion apparent in her kohl-laden eyes, no modulation in her voice, which too often rises to fishwife levels."

Her conclusion: "The mountain of notoriety has produced a mouse."

Crist was occasionally banned from advance screenings, while studios and theaters would threaten to pull advertising. When her "Cleopatra" review brought her a prize from the New York Newspaper Women’s Club, officials at 20th Century Fox, which released the movie, withdrew from the ceremony.

Preminger, whose "Hurry Sundown" she called the "worst film" she had seen in memory, referred to her as "Judas Crist." After she condemned Billy Wilder’s cross-dressing classic "Some Like It Hot" for its "perverse" gags and "homosexual ‘in’ joke(s)," Wilder allegedly remarked that asking her to review your movie was like "asking the Boston strangler to massage your neck."

But Crist had many friends in the business, from Bette Davis to "Cleopatra" director Joseph Mankiewicz. She ran a film festival for decades out of suburban Tarrytown, N.Y., with guests including Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steven Spielberg. Woody Allen liked her well enough to give her a cameo in his 1980 drama "Stardust Memories," widely believed to have been based in part on Crist’s Tarrytown gatherings.

She was born in New York in 1922 and would say that Charlie Chaplin’s silent masterpiece "The Gold Rush" was her first and most vivid film memory. By age 10, she had decided she wanted to be a reviewer; movies became her passion and her vice. She would cut classes for a chance to visit a theater or two, including a cherished day in which she took in showings of "Gone With the Wind," "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Grand Illusion."

Her edge was likely formed by her Dickensian childhood. The daughter of a successful fur trader, she lived in Canada until age 9, attending private school, enjoying the luxuries of multiple homes, live-in servants and the family’s bulletproof Cadillac. But in the 1930s, her father’s business was ruined by the Great Depression.

"And then suddenly, our most gracious home was gone. The servants left," she wrote years later in Time magazine. "After we lost the last of our homes, we moved to New York to get some kind of assistance from my mother’s family. Well, from both of my parents’ families. We lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment while my father went out on the road, recouping things."

She still managed to attend Hunter College and receive a master’s degree from Columbia University’s journalism school. In 1945, soon after graduation, she was hired as a feature writer by the Herald Tribune, where she remained until the paper closed, in 1966, and where colleagues included Jimmy Breslin and Tom Wolfe. In 1950, her education reporting brought her a George Polk Award, and she was honored five times by the New York Newspaper Woman’s Club.

Crist reviewed film and theater for the "Today" show from 1964-73, and as a print critic worked for New York magazine, TV Guide and the New York Post. She was a longtime adjunct professor at Columbia and her essays, interviews and reviews have been compiled into three books: "The Private Eye, The Cowboy and the Very Naked Girl," "Judith Crist’s TV Guide to the Movies" and "Take 22: Moviemakers on Moviemaking."

Crist’s husband, public relations consultant William B. Crist, died in 1993. Their son, Steven Crist, covered horse racing for The New York Times and later became publisher of the Daily Racing Form.

AP Movie Writer David Germain contributed to this story from Los Angeles.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like