Richard Corliss

Richard Nelson Corliss (March 6, 1944 – April 23, 2015) was an American film critic and magazine editor for Time. He focused on movies, with occasional articles on other subjects.[4]

He was the former editor-in-chief of Film Comment and authored several books including Talking Pictures,[5] which, along with other publications, drew early attention to the screenwriter, as opposed to the director.

Richard Corliss
Richard Corliss
Richard Nelson Corliss

March 6, 1944
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 23, 2015 (aged 71)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materSt. Joseph's College
Columbia University
New York University
OccupationEditor, writer, critic
Years active1966–2015
Notable work
  • Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in American Cinema[1]
  • Greta Garbo (A Pyramid illustrated history of the movies)[2]
  • 1980 cover story on Dallas's "Who Shot J.R.?"[3]
Mary Elizabeth Yushak (m. 1969)

Personal life and background

Corliss was born in 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[6] the son of Elizabeth Brown (née McCluskey) and Paul William Corliss.[6] He attended St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia (now Saint Joseph's University), obtaining a bachelor's degree, before progressing to Columbia University to earn a master's degree in film studies. Corliss resided in New York City with his wife, Mary, whom he married on Sunday, August 31, 1969. Mary was formerly a curator in the Film Stills Archive of the Museum of Modern Art.

In a 1990 article, Corliss mentions his mother clipping movie ads with quotes of his and posting them to her refrigerator door.[7]

On April 23, 2015, Corliss died under hospice care in New York City after suffering a stroke.[8]


Corliss wrote for many magazines—National Review from 1966–1970, New Times, Maclean's and SoHo Weekly News in 1980. At Film Comment, Corliss helped draw attention to the screenwriter in the creation of movies. Corliss challenged Andrew Sarris's idea of the Director as author or auteur of this work. Corliss was one of Sarris' students at New York University (NYU); the two remained friends until Sarris' death.

Corliss brought Jonathan Rosenbaum to Film Comment as a Paris correspondent. Despite working for National Review, a conservative magazine, Corliss was a self-described "liberal".[9] In 1980, Corliss joined Time. Although he started as an associate editor, he was promoted to senior writer by 1985.

Corliss wrote for as well as the print magazine including a retired column about nostalgic pop culture called That Old Feeling. He wrote occasional articles for Time. He was an occasional guest on Charlie Rose's talk show commenting on new releases, mostly during the 1990s with Janet Maslin and David Denby. His last appearance on the show was in December 2005 to talk about the year in film. Corliss also appeared on A&E Biography to talk about the life and work of Jackie Chan,[10] and appeared in Richard Schickel's documentary about Warner Brothers.

Corliss attended the Cannes Film Festival along with Roger Ebert and Todd McCarthy for the longest period of any US journalist. He also attended festivals in Toronto and Venice. Corliss used to work on the board of the New York Film Festival, but resigned in 1987 after longtime head Richard Roud was fired due to his challenging of editorial direction of the festival.

Lolita, Corliss's third book, was a study of Vladimir Nabokov's book and Stanley Kubrick's film. Later Corliss has written an introductory essay for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A Portrait of the Ang Lee Film.[11]

Corliss also admired the Pixar movies, including listing Finding Nemo as one of his and fellow Time critic Richard Schickel's 100 all-time greatest movies. With recent Pixar releases Cars and Ratatouille Corliss had access into the studio's inner workings.[12] Pixar director Brad Bird has said of critics in general that he has "got nothing against critics." He also that he had "done very well with them, over the years."[13]

In addition to writing for Time, Corliss had a lengthy association with Film Comment magazine, serving as its editor from 1970 to 1990. Corliss covered movies for the magazine and for simultaneously. Corliss along with Martin Scorsese first came up with the idea for the issue on "guilty pleasures".[14]

Corliss along with Richard Schickel made a 100 Greatest movies list. Corliss alone created lists of the 25 greatest villains, the 25 best horror films, and the 25 most important films on race. In addition Corliss was on the 2001 jury for AFI's 100 Greatest movies list. In a 1993 Time magazine movie review of The Crying Game, Corliss subtly gave away the spoiler of the film, by spelling it out with the first letters of each paragraph of his review.[15]

Conflict and criticism

Corliss has had movies on his top ten lists that fellow Time critic Richard Schickel has rated the worst of the year. These included 2001's Moulin Rouge!, 2003's Cold Mountain and 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In August 2004, Stephen King, criticizing what he saw as a growing trend of leniency towards films by critics, included Corliss among a number of "formerly reliable critics who seem to have gone remarkably soft – not to say softhearted and sometimes softheaded – in their old age."[16]

Richard Corliss appears in the 2009 documentary film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, confessing that he was the film critic who, in the 1970s, coined the term "Paulettes" for the ardent followers of Pauline Kael, a label which has stuck.

Despite challenging Siskel and Ebert in his Film Comment article, "all thumbs", Corliss praised Ebert in a June 23, 2007 article "Thumbs up for Roger Ebert." Corliss later appeared in Ebert's book Awake in the Dark in discussions and debates with Ebert about film criticism where "all thumbs" was reprinted.

Number Ones from Corliss' Top-Tens

Best English language film in parentheses:



  • Corliss, Richard (1974). Talking pictures : screenwriters in the American cinema, 1927-1973. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press.
  • Greta Garbo (1974)
  • Lolita (1995)
  • Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate) (2014)


  • Corliss, Richard (April 20, 2015). "Date with an android : two guys and a robot square off in Alex Garland's Ex Machina". The Culture. Reviews. Time (South Pacific ed.). 185 (14): 45.


  1. ^ Corliss, Richard (1974). Talking Pictures : Screenwriters in the American Cinema, 1927–1973 (1st ed.). Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press. ISBN 978-0879510077.
  2. ^ Corliss, Richard (1974). Sennett, Ted (ed.). Greta Garbo (1st ed.). New York: Pyramid Publications. ISBN 978-0515034806.
  3. ^ Richard, Corliss (August 11, 1980). "TV's Dallas: Whodunit?". Time Magazine.
  4. ^ Villanova University Proquest search list of 2596 articles, 2009-2005.
  5. ^ Richard Corliss (1974), Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in the American Cinema, 1927–1973
  6. ^ a b Profile,; accessed September 6, 2014.
  7. ^ Richard Corliss (1990) "All Thumbs, Or, Is There a Future for Film Criticism?" Film Comment, March/April. Reprinted in Roger Ebert (2006), Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert, p. 394.
  8. ^ Weber, Bruce (April 24, 2015). "Richard Corliss, 71, Longtime Film Critic for Time, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  9. ^ Richard Corliss (August 17, 2007). "Superbad: A Fine Bromance". Time.
  10. ^ Jackie Chan: From Stuntman to Superstar on IMDb
  11. ^ "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A Portrait of Ang Lee's Epic Film". Barnes & Noble. January 23, 2001. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  12. ^ Corliss/Emeryville, Richard (June 7, 2007). "Savoring Pixar's Ratatouille". Time.
  13. ^ Blogsite Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed September 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Mail Page". Entertainment Weekly. October 3, 1997.
  15. ^ Corliss, Richard (January 25, 1993). "Queuing for the Crying Game". Time magazine. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  16. ^ "Stephen King on summer film's four-star follies". Entertainment Weekly's February 1, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2015.

External links

Abrar Alvi

Abrar Alvi (Hindi: अबरार अल्वी; Urdu: ابرار علوی‎; 1 July 1927 – 18 November 2009) was an Indian film writer, director and actor. Most of his notable work was done in the 1950s and 1960s with Guru Dutt. He wrote some of the most respected works of Indian cinema; Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa, which have an avid following the world over. Pyaasa is included in the All-Time 100 Movies by Time, as chosen by Time movie critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel.

Altered States

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It marked the film debut of William Hurt and Drew Barrymore. Chayefsky was credited as a screenwriter for the film using the pseudonym Sidney Aaron, his actual first and middle names.

The film score was composed by John Corigliano (with Christopher Keene conducting). The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing.

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Casey Robinson

Kenneth Casey Robinson (October 17, 1903 – December 6, 1979) was an American producer and director of mostly B movies and a screenwriter responsible for some of Bette Davis' most revered films. Film critic Richard Corliss once described him as "the master of the art – or craft – of adaptation."

Down with Love

Down with Love is a 2003 American romantic comedy film directed by Peyton Reed and written by Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake. It stars Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, and is a pastiche of the early 1960s American "no-sex sex comedies" such as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back (both which starred Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and Tony Randall) and the "myriad spawn" of derivative films that followed. Time film critic Richard Corliss, estimating conservatively, wrote that Down with Love "is so clogged with specific references to a half-dozen Rock-and-Doris-type comedies that it serves as definitive distillation of the genre."Randall himself plays a small role in Down with Love, "bestowing his sly, patriarchal blessing" on the film that also stars David Hyde Pierce (in the neurotic best friend role often played by Randall or Gig Young), Sarah Paulson, Rachel Dratch, Jeri Ryan, and Jack Plotnick, who spoofs the kind of role Chet Stratton played in Lover Come Back.

Typical of the genre the film tells the story of a woman who advocates female independence in combat with a lothario, the plot reflects the attitudes and behaviour of the early pre-sexual revolution 1960s but has an anachronistic conclusion driven by more modern, post-feminist ideas and attitudes.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a 1965 American exploitation film directed by Russ Meyer and co-written by Meyer and Jack Moran. It follows three go-go dancers who embark on a spree of kidnapping and murder in the California desert.

The film is known for its violence, provocative gender roles, and eminently quotable "dialogue to shame Raymond Chandler". It is also remembered for the performance of star Tura Satana, whose character Richard Corliss called "the most honest, maybe the one honest, portrayal in the Meyer canon". Faster, Pussycat! was a commercial and critical failure upon its initial release, but it has since become widely regarded as an important and influential film.

Film Comment

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Jimmy McDonough

Jimmy McDonough is a biographer and journalist. He is perhaps best known for his biographies of Russ Meyer, Andy Milligan and Neil Young. He is noted by critics for his remarkably exhaustive accounts and for his tendency to avoid romanticizing his subjects' lives. For this reason, he was described by The Times as "a literary Terminator". Time's Richard Corliss declared his first published work The Ghastly One "a masterpiece" and John Waters has repeatedly named it one of his favorite books(this was actually McDonough's second effort; the first, Shakey: The Biography of Neil Young, had been held up by a lawsuit over the claim that Young had tried to prevent publication). Other reviewers decry the inclusion of his personal experience/reactions often found in his books as a sort of biographical treason. In addition to the aforementioned biographies, McDonough has authored profiles on Jimmy Scott, Gary Stewart, Hubert Selby, Jr., the Ormond family and Link Wray, and over the span of his career he has written for a number of publications including: The Village Voice, Film Comment, and Variety.

In 2010 McDonough's biography of Tammy Wynette was published and the book was optioned by director David O. Russell, who had also optioned the author's Russ Meyer biography, but neither movie ever materialized. McDonough assisted musician John Fogerty with his 2015 autobiography Fortunate Son and that same year the director Nicolas Winding Refn published a book of exploitation movie posters largely based on McDonough's collection. Soul Survivor, the author's biography of singer Al Green, was published August 29, 2017. This book appears to be just as contentious as his previous works, with one early reviewer declaring that "McDonough presents himself as someone who, like Green, simply does not give a f**k about what others think."In 2017 McDonough (along with his cat Buster) became an animated character in the two-part episode on George Jones and Tammy Wynette for Mike Judge's Tales From the Tour Bus. He also edited "Regional Renegades," the first volume for Nicolas Winding Refn's site, which went live in the summer of 2018. McDonough contributed articles on Texas honky-tonk singer Frankie Miller, Wayne Cochran, and the women in Texas exploitation director Dale Berry's films. He is Editor-In-Chief of the site.

McDonough currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where he divides his time between writing and 3D photography (his hobby).

He is somewhat enigmatic about himself, as revealed in a rare 2011 (internet conducted) interview with Jonathan Penner.


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The film according to Roger Ebert was "made of episodes, not a plot" and he gave the film three stars out of four. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called the film "emotionally remote" but praised its look and its musical score. Richard Corliss praised the cinematography and score as well. Barry Norman, chief film critic at the BBC opined that Kundun was both beautifully and intelligently made.

"Kundun" (སྐུ་མདུན་ Wylie: sku mdun in Tibetan), meaning "presence", is a title by which the Dalai Lama is addressed. Kundun was released only a few months after Seven Years in Tibet, sharing the latter's location and its depiction of the Dalai Lama at several stages of his youth, though Kundun covers a period three times longer.

Lo's Diary

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Miller's Crossing

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"Nagasaki" is an American jazz song from 1928 by Harry Warren and Mort Dixon that became a popular Tin Pan Alley hit. The silly, bawdy lyrics have only the vaguest relation to the Japanese port city of Nagasaki. It was one of a series of US novelty songs set in "exotic" locations popular in the era starting with Albert Von Tilzer's 1919 hit "Oh By Jingo!"; "Nagasaki" even makes reference to the genre's prototype in the lyrics. Even more directly the song "On the Isle of Wicki Wacki Woo" was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn in 1923. "Nagasaki" was covered by many big band jazz groups of the late 1920s through the 1940s, and the music remains to this day a popular base for jazz improvisations. The song was most famously covered by the Benny Goodman Quartet. Others who performed the song include Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, Don Redman, Django Reinhardt, Louis Jordan, Adolph Robinson, Stéphane Grappelli, and Chet Atkins. Willie "The Lion" Smith performed and recorded the song throughout his career; although he sang different lyrics that he changed back in his vaudeville days.Writing for Time magazine, Richard Corliss described "Nagasaki" as "something like the definitive gotta-get-up-and-do-the-Charleston song, with Warren's effervescent syncopation dragging the folks onto the dance floor and Mort Dixon's lyric goading them into a singalong: 'Hot ginger and dynamite / There's nothing but that at night / Back in Nagasaki where the fellas chew tobaccy / And the women wicky-wacky-woo'."

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SoHo Weekly News

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The Wisdom of Crocodiles

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Time's All-Time 100 Movies

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