Judith Crist, Times Critic, Dies at 90

Jewish Film Critic Was First Woman in Role at Big Paper

By Reuters

Published August 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Judith Crist, a popular American film critic whose acerbic commentary helped herald a new era of film critics at newspapers and media outlets across the United States, died on Tuesday. She was 90.

Judith Crist
getty images
Judith Crist

Her son, Steven Crist, said his mother died in New York after a long illness.

She was born Judith Klein to parents Solomon Klein and the former Helen Schoenberg, spending her early years in Montreal before returning to her native New York at age 12.

Crist began her career as a journalist and film critic at the New York Herald Tribune in 1945, eventually becoming its full-time critic, the first woman to hold such a post at a major U.S. newspaper, according to the Los Angeles Times. She worked for two decades at the Trib before becoming New York magazine’s first film critic. She was the film reviewer for NBC’s Today show from 1964 to 1973.

Crist’s more famous blunt and witty comments, directed at movies including “The Sound of Music” and “Cleopatra,” provoked filmmaker Billy Wilder to quip, “Inviting her to review one of your pictures is like inviting the Boston Strangler to massage your neck.”

Film critic Roger Ebert told the Chicago Tribune in 1999 that “the high profile of film critics can be traced to Judith Crist at the New York Herald Tribune in the early ’60s.”

He said her attack on “Cleopatra” led to her being banned from screenings by Fox, a gesture that “led to every newspaper in the country saying, ‘Hey, we ought to get a real movie critic.’”

Crist was an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism from 1958 until last February, teaching critical and expository writing.

She was married for 47 years to William B. Crist, a public-relations executive and educator who died in 1993. She is survived by her son and two nieces, Helen McGough of Seattle and Edith Klein of Toronto.

With JTA


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.