Longtime film critic, documentarian and cinematic scholar Richard Schickel died today at age 84. A series of strokes got him — solemn condolences to friends, colleagues and fans.
Schickel was one of the heavyweight lions of film criticism amid the second half of the 20th Century, rougly at par in terms of eloquence, insight and importance with Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael, Richard Corliss, Joe Morgenstern, Molly Haskell, Stanley Kauffman, Judith Crist, et. al. He was one of the lordly big boys, a prodigious professional, and certainly a fellow I’ve looked up to with considerable respect (if not affection) for my entire professional life.
Schickel’s principal berth was as Time‘s film critic from 1965 to 2010 — oh, what a time that was for movie scholars, fanatics and devotees, especially from the late ’60s to the downturn period of the ’80s/’90s/you tell me. Schickel’s gradual deflation began when the online thing began to eat into the rule of snooty, harumphy, Moses-speaking-to-the-Hebrews movie critics starting around 15 years ago.
Schickel also wrote for Life (’65 to ’72) and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. His last regular reviewing gig was for Truthdig. He wrote something close to 35 books about film industry trends and movie stars (James Cagney, Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, Elia Kazan, Walt Disney, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, Charlie Chaplin) and directed, wrote or significantly contributed to over 20 documentaries about this realm.