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Richard Schickel, Time magazine’s longtime film critic and a noted chronicler of the movie business, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Schickel’s family told the Los Angeles Times that he died after complications from a series of strokes. “He was one of the fathers of American film criticism,” said Schickel’s daughter Erika. “He had a singular voice. When he wrote or spoke, he had an old-fashioned way of turning a phrase. He was blunt and succinct both on the page and in life.”
Born in Milwaukee in 1933, Schickel began his career in film criticism in the 1960s, first working for Life magazine and then moving over to sister publication Time in 1965. He wrote at a time when film criticism began to take on an intellectual and philosophical dimension that pushed back against established critics and their excessive moralizing and identifying with the prevailing social changes in America found in the New Hollywood movement. His film ciritc contemporaries included The New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael and The Village Voice‘s Andrew Sarris.
Schickel retired from Time in 2010, but continued to write film reviews for the online film blog Truthdig. A prolific author, he wrote 37 books related to film, film theory and film history. Among his noted books were biographies on Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, D.W. Griffith and Elia Kazan.
Away from writing, Schickel was an equally prolific documentary filmmaker, having been involved in 30 productions either as a writer or director. His documentaries, most of which were made-for-TV, ranged from popular fare such as The Making of Star Wars (1977) and From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga (1983) to several Emmy-nominated docs including The Men Who Made the Movies (1973), Life Goes to the Movies (1976), Minelli on Minelli (1987), Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey (1994) and Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen (2000). Most recently, he worked on You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008), a three-part series for PBS.
Schickel is survived by his daughters Erika and Jessica, step-daughter Ali Rubinstein and his grandchildren.
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