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Rotten Tomatoes

June 25, 2012

Last week Andrew Sarris died. He was my favorite movie reviewer for years, particularly in the decades when he was writing for the Village Voice, and even though he was a huge Hitchcock advocate, whose stuff, I must say, I don’t love. But unlike most movie reviewers, Andrew Sarris didn’t suck. May he rest in peace.

The Guardian has a solid obit:

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Greek immigrant parents and grew up in Ozone Park, Queens. He remained proud of his Greek heritage, and was a particular devotee of Greek food. After graduating from Columbia University, New York, in 1951, he served with the army signal corps, during which time he wrote movie columns for an armed-forces magazine. In 1955 Sarris met Jonas and Adolfas Mekas, who had just launched a magazine called Film Culture that championed avant-garde film-making. The 26-year-old Sarris became an unpaid reviewer for the magazine while working for the US Census Bureau. However, in 1960 Jonas Mekas asked him to fill in for him as film critic on the Village Voice, where he stayed for almost three decades.

Significantly, Sarris’s first review for the once influential weekly New York paper was of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. “At that time,” he said, “people objected to the fact that I treated Hitchcock as a major artist.” Neither the French nor the British needed much persuading, but the Americans needed to be convinced that Hitchcock was a great director rather than a minor entertainer. Sarris also succeeded in making people revalue the talents of directors such as Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray, Otto Preminger and Anthony Mann.

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