Richard Corliss, Time movie critic, dies

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Friday, April 24, 2015

NEW YORK -- Richard Corliss, the longtime film critic for Time magazine, has died after suffering a major stroke last week, the magazine said Friday. He was 71.

"He conveyed nothing so much as the sheer joy of watching movies - and writing about them," Time theater critic Richard Zoglin said in an online tribute to Corliss. "He was a perceptive, invaluable guide through three and a half decades of Hollywood films, stars and trends."

In his 35 years as the magazine's film critic, Corliss wrote more than 2,500 reviews and other articles.

Time Editor Nancy Gibbs called Corliss a master of the written word. Words "were his tools, his toys, to the point that it felt sometimes as though he had to write, like the rest of us breathe and eat and sleep," she said.

"His prose was zestful and sparkling - it simply jumped off the page," Zoglin said.

He said Corliss had an encyclopedic knowledge of film and its place in cinematic, cultural and American history.

His reviews were "authoritative but never intimidating" and his tastes "populist but electric," ranging from Chinese kung fu and Disney animation to films by Ingmar Bergman and Werner Herzog.

Early in his career, Corliss dismissed the box office "Star Wars" hit, stating that "the movie's 'legs' will prove as vulnerable as C-3PO's." But he soon embraced the films by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

Of Spielberg's "E.T.," he said "the movie is a perfectly poised mixture of sweet comedy and 10-speed melodrama, of death and resurrection, of a friendship so pure and powerful it seems like an idealized love."

Corliss also was the author of several books "Talking Pictures" in 1974 was a survey of major Hollywood screenwriters. He also wrote a monograph on Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and last year published a book on iconic film mothers titled "Mom in the Movies."

His wife of more than 40 years, Mary Corliss is curator of the Film Stills Archive at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

"Our tributes and a sampling of his writing from his 35 years at Time allow us to savor the immense range and excellence of his work as one of the world's most important voices on film, and so many other subjects," said Gibbs. "We will miss him terribly, and our prayers are with his beloved wife Mary."

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