A screenwriter who went by the pseudonyms of R. Hyde and Reinhold Timme died recently in Chicago. Others knew the man as
1 Pauline Kael — the hugely influential, acerbic critic for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1991 (except for a short stint about 1980 when she tried to work in the film industry) — got her start in San Francisco in 1953 when a magazine editor overheard her and a friend debating Charlie Chaplin's film
2 David Manning was born in 2000 and made an impact as a film reviewer almost immediately. That's because Manning was invented by a
3 Tribune film critic Michael Phillips told the website Rotten Tomatoes that a formative moviegoing experience occurred at age 9 when he watched "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," expecting to like it but instead hating it. "... Being sent into a low-grade funk by that alleged 'comedy to end all comedies' probably had something to do with me becoming a critic. I wanted to figure out why it didn't click, at least for me."
4 Reviewers write a fine line in telling enough without revealing too much. Rarely was that more crucial than for "The Crying Game." The 1992 film's plot turned on the fact that a female character was really a man, a twist so important that the film's producers pleaded with the media and moviegoers to keep it a secret. That didn't sway the Tribune's
5 For decades, Tribune movie reviewers wrote under a fake byline as Mae Tinee (Get it? "Matinee"). Among the writers using the byline were Frances Peck Kerner, Anna Nangle and Maurine Dallas Watkins, who wrote the play that was adapted into the award-winning musical "Chicago."
6 Everyone loved "Gone With the Wind" when it came out, right? Wrong. African-American critic Melvin B. Tolson, writing in the Washington Tribune, objected to the film's depiction of well-treated slaves and its sympathy toward slaveholders. He said the takeaway for white moviegoers was that "Dixie was a heaven on Earth until the damned Yankees and carpetbaggers came."
7 When we think about
8 Los Angeles Times critic
9 The porn film "Deep Throat," which was caught up in 1970s censorship battles, was reviewed by upper-crust critics who ordinarily wouldn't write about such fare. Ellen Willis of the New York Review of Books called it "about as erotic as a tonsillectomy." But Arthur Knight of the Saturday Review testified at a New York obscenity trial that the film deserved praise "for expanding the audience's sexual horizons and producing healthier attitudes towards sex." The judge didn't buy it, leading to a movie theater marquee in
10 Critics may be at their best reviewing bad films. Ebert in 2000: "'Battlefield Earth' is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time." Phillips on
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor for the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the newspaper's weekend editor.