Film critic Judith Crist, who called Cleopatra “a monumental mouse” and was the model for the screening series host in Woody Allen‘s Stardust Memories, died in Manhattan today at age 90.

Crist loved the good films, of course — she cared and worshipped and adored. You can’t write about movies if you don’t feel the passionate uplift. But if she thought a film was crap, she said so and then some. She didn’t play games and could really carve when so moved. She was one tough bird.

Crist had four significant berths as a film critic — as the first full-time female critic at The New York Herald Tribune, starting in April 1963; on the Today show for ten years; for New York magazine, where she was the founding film critic; and then TV Guide. She also wrote for Saturday Review and Ladies Home Journal, and for Coming Attractions magazine in the ’80s and ’90s.

One of Crist’s more famous quotes was contained in her review of Spencer’s Mountain, which nobody and I mean nobody even rents today. Crist described it as “sheer prurience and perverted morality disguised as piety.” The review led Warner Brothers to pull their advertising for the Herald Tribune, but the publisher stood behind her and the ads soon returned.

What are the odds that a publisher or editor would do the same today if a film critic had pissed somebody off? If a critic causes trouble, throw ’em under the bus…right?

Crist was threatened with banishment from screenings after her Cleopatra pan, but this wasn’t followed up either.

Douglas Martin‘s N.Y. Times obit quotes Roger Ebert as having said that these attempts at bullying “led to every newspaper in the country to say ‘Hey, we ought to get a real movie critic.'”

Crist was interviewed just before her 90th birthday (i.e., 5.22.12) by Sree Sreenivasan and Melanie Huff [see above].

“The most enjoyable part of living a long time is that it happens so quickly,” Crist said during the chat. “I have to stop and think, ‘My word, it’s a long time.” When I think of all the things that have changed, I don’t look back because I’ve had a wonderful life and so I have nothing to bitch about…which would be the easy way. I don’t think I want to live another 90 years, because enough is enough. There are still people I enjoy reading, things I enjoy doing; I think it’s the journalists credo of ‘what’s around the next corner?’ I still have that.”