Vincent Canby

Vincent Canby (July 27, 1924 – October 15, 2000) was an American film and theatre critic who served as the chief film critic for The New York Times from 1969 until the early 1990s, then its chief theatre critic from 1994 until his death in 2000. He reviewed more than one thousand films during his tenure there.[1]

Vincent Canby
Canby in 1977
Canby in 1977
BornJuly 27, 1924
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedOctober 15, 2000 (aged 76)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
OccupationCritic, writer
Alma materDartmouth College
PartnerPenelope Gilliatt

Early life

Canby was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Katharine Anne (née Vincent) and Lloyd Canby.[2] He attended boarding school in Christchurch, Virginia, with novelist William Styron, and the two became friends. He introduced Styron to the works of E. B. White and Ernest Hemingway; and the pair hitchhiked to Richmond to buy For Whom the Bell Tolls.[3] After war service in the Pacific theater, he attended Dartmouth College, but didn’t graduate.


He obtained his first job as a journalist in 1948 for the Chicago Journal of Commerce. In 1951, he left Chicago for New York and was employed as a film critic by Variety for six years before starting to work for The New York Times.[4]

Canby was widely viewed as extremely biased in his reviews, as he was an enthusiastic supporter of only specific styles of filmmakers; notably Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Jane Campion, Mike Leigh, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, James Ivory and Woody Allen, who credited Canby's rave review of Take the Money and Run as a crucial point in his career.[5] On the other hand, Canby was also heavily critical of some otherwise acclaimed films, such as Rocky, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Night of the Living Dead, After Hours, Blazing Saddles, A Christmas Story, Witness, Mask, The Natural, Rain Man, The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,[6] Deliverance, The Godfather Part II, Alien and The Thing. Among the best-known texts written by Canby was an extremely negative review of the movie Heaven's Gate by Michael Cimino.

In the early 1990s, Canby switched his attention from film to theatre; he was named the chief theatre critic in 1994.[4]

Canby, was also an occasional playwright and novelist, penning the novels Living Quarters (1975) and Unnatural Scenery (1979) and the plays End of the War (1978), After All (1981) and The Old Flag (1984), a drama set during the civil war.

The career of Vincent Canby is discussed in the film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism by contemporary critics such as The Nation's Stuart Klawans, who talks of Canby's influence.

Personal life

Canby never married, but was, for many years, the companion of English author Penelope Gilliatt.[7] He died from cancer in Manhattan on October 15, 2000.[7] Almost three years later, upon the death of Bob Hope, the late Canby's byline appeared on the front page of The New York Times. Canby had written the bulk of Hope's obituary for the newspaper several years before.[8]


  1. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Vincent Canby Reviews – Best Movie Reviews – Movies – New York Times". Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  2. ^ "Vincent Canby Biography (1924–2000)". Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  3. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (November 11, 2000). "Recalling the Civilized Voice of a Critic, Vincent Canby". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (October 16, 2000). "Vincent Canby, Prolific Film and Theater Critic for The Times, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 6. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (August 19, 1969). "Take the Money and Run (1969)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  6. ^ Anderson, John (November 22, 1976). "Film: 'Rocky,' Pure 30's Make-Believe". NY Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Malcolm, Derek (October 17, 2000). "Obituary: Vincent Canby". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 28, 2003). "Bob Hope, Comedic Master and Entertainer of Troops, Dies at 100". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2019.

Further reading

External links

1972 National Society of Film Critics Awards

The 7th National Society of Film Critics Awards, given on 29 December 1972, honored the best filmmaking of 1972.The member critics voting were Hollis Alpert of World, Gary Arnold of The Washington Post, Vincent Canby of The New York Times, Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times, Jay Cocks of Time, Judith Crist of New York, David Denby of The Atlantic, Bernard Drew of the Gannett News Service, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, Joseph Gelmis of Newsday, Penelope Gilliatt of The New Yorker, Roger Greenspun of The New York Times, Molly Haskell of The Village Voice, Pauline Kael of The New Yorker, Michael Korda of Glamour, Arthur Knight of Saturday Review, Thomas Meehan of Saturday Review, William S. Pechter of Commentary, Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice, Richard Schickel of Life, Bruce Williamson of Playboy, and Paul D. Zimmerman of Newsweek.

A Few Days with Me

A Few Days with Me (original title: Quelques jours avec moi) is a 1988 French film directed by Claude Sautet. It received three César Award nominations at the 1989 César Awards.


An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting or participating in extreme sports.

Betrayal (1983 film)

Betrayal is a 1983 film adaptation of Harold Pinter's 1978 play of the same name. With a semi-autobiographical screenplay by Pinter, the film was produced by Sam Spiegel and directed by David Jones. It was critically well received, praised notably by New York Times film critic Vincent Canby and by Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. Distributed by 20th Century Fox International Classics (USA), it was first screened in movie theaters in New York in February 1983.

Edge of Sanity (film)

Edge of Sanity is a 1989 British horror film directed by Gérard Kikoïne and starring Anthony Perkins. It mixes elements of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with those of tales of Jack the Ripper.

Françoise Romand

Françoise Romand, born in Marseilles, is a French filmmaker.

Filmed in 1985, Romand's Mix-Up ou Méli-Mélo attained success in the United States after it was discovered by Vincent Canby of the New York Times. Journalist Jonathan Rosenbaum, of the Chicago Reader, selected it as the top film among his 10 best films of 1988 and among his 15 best films of the 1980s. Romand's other films include Appelez-moi Madame (Call Me Madame) (1986), Thème Je (The Camera I) (2004), Baiser d'encre (Ink Kiss) (2015).

Joseph Andrews (film)

Joseph Andrews is a 1977 British period comedy film directed by Tony Richardson. It is based on the novel Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding.

With its rollicking comic plot, period costume and setting, ribald adventures and a dashing young hero, the film was an obvious attempt to follow in the line of such films as Tom Jones, which was also directed by Tony Richardson.

Ann-Margret was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1978 for her performance in the film.Vincent Canby of the New York Times explains the pretext of Henry Fielding's novel Joseph Andrews: The book "originated as Fielding's answer to what he saw as the hypocritical pieties of {British novelist} Samuel Richardson's Pamela. In Pamela, which was published in 1740, Richardson told the inspiring tale of Pamela Andrews, a serving girl who tenaciously held onto her virginity until her employer, the rich Mr. Booby, came across with a marriage license. Several years later, Mr. Fielding turned this story wildly upside down in a novel about Pamela's brother, Joseph, a serving boy who is as innocent as his sister but not nearly as calculating, who must fight off all sorts of lewd advances and whose triumph is one of true virtue rather than greed."

Lost in the Stars (film)

Lost in the Stars is the 1974 film version of the Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson musical adaptation of the Alan Paton novel Cry, the Beloved Country. The film was produced and released as part of the American Film Theatre, which adapted theatrical works for a subscription-driven cinema series.

Directed by Daniel Mann, the film follows a Zulu preacher, Reverend Stephen Kumalo (Brock Peters), in his journey to Johannesburg to search for his long-missing son, Absalom (Clifton Davis). He discovers his son is a paroled felon living in a shantytown with his pregnant girlfriend (Melba Moore). Absolom becomes involved in a robbery plan that results in the death of a white anti-apartheid advocate. Absolom is jailed, tried and sentenced to death, leaving his father unable to continue his ministerial work.Due to the film’s criticism of the apartheid system, it could not be shot on location in South Africa, requiring exterior footage to be shot in Cottage Grove, Oregon.Lost in the Stars has been poorly received by critics. At the time of its release, Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "a very bad movie" and questioned why the film version dropped the reconciliation between Reverend Kumalo and the murdered man’s father, which was integral to the Paton novel and the original stage version. When the film was released on DVD in 2003, its received more unfavorable reviews. Time Out New York called it "a series of well-intentioned clichés" while Film Threat stated it was "not the missing classic that one hopes it could be."

Man Is Not a Bird

Čovek nije tica (English title: Man Is Not a Bird) is a European art film made in 1965. It was the first film from director Dušan Makavejev.

In a 1974 review, Vincent Canby described it "by far the most original, intelligent, witty and important film I've seen so far this year," and "the most sophisticated and complex film from a Communist country that I've ever seen."

Playing Away

Playing Away is a 1987 TV comedy film directed by Horace Ové, from a screenplay by Caryl Phillips. In the story, an English cricket team, fictitiously named "Sneddington" (based in Lavenham, Suffolk), invites a team of West Indian heritage based in Brixton (South London) to play a charity game in support of their "Third World Week." According to Screenonline, "The gentle comedy of manners and unexpected reversal of white and black stereotypes in Playing Away contrasts sharply with the stylistic experimentation and the militant denunciations of racial prejudice in director Horace Ové's earlier feature, Pressure (1975)." New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby called it "witty and wise without being seriously disturbing for a minute".The cricket match scenes were filmed at Botany Bay Cricket Club in Enfield, London.

Among those starring in Playing Away were:

Norman Beaton

Nicholas Farrell

Brian Bovell

Ross Kemp

Gary Beadle

Trevor Thomas

Ram John Holder

Bruce Purchase

Joseph Marcell

Director: Horace Ové

Producer: Vijay Amarnani

Music by: Simon Webb

Special Delivery (1976 film)

Special Delivery is a 1976 American comedy crime film directed by Paul Wendkos and starring Bo Svenson and Cybill Shepherd.

Sunday's Children

Sunday's Children (Swedish: Söndagsbarn) is a 1992 Swedish drama film directed by Daniel Bergman and written by Ingmar Bergman. At the 28th Guldbagge Awards the film won the award for Best Cinematography (Tony Forsberg) and Thommy Berggren was nominated for Best Actor.Ingmar based his screenplay for Sunday's Children on the life of his father, Church of Sweden minister Erik Bergman. Author Geoffrey Macnab wrote that whereas Ingmar's recollections of Erik are damning in his 1982 film Fanny and Alexander, his 1991–92 study of his father is "far more forgiving" in The Best Intentions and Sunday's Children. Critic Vincent Canby also identified Sunday's Children as "a continuation" of Fanny and Alexander and The Best Intentions.

The Age of the Medici

The Age of the Medici, originally released in Italy as L'età di Cosimo de Medici (The Age of Cosimo de Medici), is a 1973 3-part TV series about the Renaissance in Florence, directed by Roberto Rossellini. The series was shot in English in the hope of securing a North American release, which it failed to achieve, and was later dubbed into Italian and shown on state television. The films are: Cosimo de Medici, The Power of Cosimo and Leon Battista Alberti: Humanism. It is Fred Ward's debut role.

Like several other TV series directed by Rossellini during the 1970s, The Age of the Medici is a form of docudrama, in which historical information is communicated via dramatized conversations between figures from history, and between ordinary people. They are unabashedly "teaching films." As Dave Kehr explains, "The dialogue is bluntly didactic, with characters telling one another things they would already know entirely for the benefit of the audience.... Rossellini isn’t asking his viewers to identify with his characters or become caught up in their personal dramas ... Instead he creates a detached perspective." Each scene plays out in a single long take, with the camera slowly moving and zooming to create different framings of the action, or, as Kehr puts it, "to close in on details or investigate relationships".When the films debuted in New York's Public Theater in 1973, New York Times movie critic Vincent Canby noted that while not difficult, the austere style of the films, "as well as Rossellini's total lack of concern for what might be called performance, take some getting used to. Yet once you've grasped the method and the rhythm of the films, they are a ravishingly beautiful experience":

The actors make few attempts to act. They recite as they walk about magnificent locations, sounding and looking like ferociously gifted dress-extras. The talk has been rather flatly dubbed into English so that it's not always possible to tell who is speaking.Forget these problems, though. The film is about what is being said and what you can see around and behind these figures. When you connect with The Age of the Medici, it has the effect of reducing every other film you've seen recently to the status of an ornament.

The Border (1982 film)

The Border is a 1982 American drama film directed by Tony Richardson and starring Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine, Elpidia Carrillo and Warren Oates.

The Hour of the Furnaces

The Hour of the Furnaces (Spanish: La hora de los hornos) is a 1968 Latin American film directed by Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas. 'The paradigm of revolutionary activist cinema', it addresses the politics of the 'Third worldist' films and Latin-American manifesto of the late 1960s. It is a key part of the 'Third Cinema', a movement which emerged in Latin America around the same time as the film's release.

The Ploughman's Lunch

The Ploughman's Lunch is a 1983 British drama film written by Ian McEwan and directed by Richard Eyre which features Jonathan Pryce, Tim Curry, and Rosemary Harris.

The film looks at the media world in Margaret Thatcher's Britain during the time of the Falklands War. It was a part of Channel 4's "Film on Four" strand, enjoying a successful and critically lauded theatrical release prior to its television screenings.

Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man

Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (Italian: La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo) is a 1981 Italian film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. It stars Anouk Aimée and Ugo Tognazzi, who was awarded the Best Male Actor Award at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival for his performance. In his review, Vincent Canby describes the film as, "Bernardo Bertolucci's very good, cerebrally tantalizing new film, Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man, the story of what may or may not be a terrorist kidnapping of the sort that has been making Italian headlines with increasing frequency in recent years."

Twilight of the Cockroaches

Twilight of the Cockroaches (ゴキブリたちの黄昏, Gokiburi-tachi no Tasogare) is a 1987 anime/live-action film written and directed by Hiroaki Yoshida that combines live-action footage with animation. The plot concerns a society of cockroaches who live peacefully in the apartment of a bachelor named Seito until a woman moves in and the humans begin to exterminate the cockroaches. The cockroaches are depicted through animation, and the humans are depicted through live-action footage. Famed Japanese illustrator Yoshitaka Amano worked on the film as an art director and character designer.

Director Yoshida has stated that the film is "about Japan" and that the "concept of a 'hated' species is not unlike the racial and cultural enmity with which Japan is perceived". In his New York Times review, Vincent Canby wrote: "The publicity material for Twilight of the Cockroaches describes the film as an allegory about the fate in store for affluent Japan if it doesn't meet its international responsibilities. The film may read that way in Japan. In this country, it looks somewhat darker and more muddled".The English dub of the film was produced by Streamline Pictures. During the early-to-mid 1990s, the film was shown frequently on Turner Broadcasting stations such as TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, often paired with Vampire Hunter D and Robot Carnival. As a result, it was one of the first exposures to anime for many American anime fans.

The soundtrack is by Morgan Fisher.

The film was released on to DVD by Discotek Media on February 26, 2019.

Victor Nuñez

Victor Nunez (born 1945) is a film director, professor at the Florida State University College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts, and a founding member of the Independent Feature Project. He is best known for directing Ulee's Gold, a critically acclaimed movie starring Jessica Biel and Peter Fonda. Nunez was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2008 and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2016.

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