I was saddened to learn about the passing of Richard Schickel who died in Los Angeles at the weekend. He died just 8 days after his 84th birthday after suffering from complications related to a series of strokes. Schickel was a complete scholar of the filmmaking business. He was first captivated by Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” when he was 5 years old and grew up to be a noted film critic, Hollywood historian and prolific author and documentarian. It is estimated that he had watched some 22,590 movies. He also wrote 37 books on movies and filmmakers and wrote or directed more than 30 documentaries.
Mr Schickel was of course a great admirer of Clint’s work. He wrote a couple of respected biographies - Clint Eastwood: A Biography (1997) and Clint: A Retrospective (2010), a lavishly produced publication for which The Clint Eastwood Archive was very honoured and proud to be included among its credits. Schickel also made some notable Eastwood documentaries including Eastwood & Co. Making Unforgiven (1992) and Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story (2013). He also appeared in several other related documentaries including Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows (2000). Schickel also provided insightful DVD audio commentaries for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven and Sudden Impact. As The Los Angeles Times stated, ‘Perhaps his closest, most sustained relationship was with Eastwood, whom he communicated with frequently and admired as a filmmaker and an individual’.
The Clint Eastwood Archive, would like to extend our sincere condolences to Mr Schickel’s family.
I have included a few tributes related to this story below.
The New York Times, Richard Schickel, Critic and Filmmaker, Dies at 84 by SAM ROBERTS FEB 20th, 2017
Richard Warren Schickel was born on Feb. 10, 1933, in Milwaukee, the son of Edward Schickel, who worked in advertising, and the former Helen Hendricks, a docent. He was named for an ancestor, Richard Warren, who arrived on the Mayflower.
He was raised in suburban Wauwatosa, Wis., and escaped to the movies on weekends with friends, he wrote in a memoir, “Good Morning, Mr. Zip Zip Zip: Movies, Memory, and World War II” (2003), “because the serene and placid little world I inhabited as a kid was so lacking in romantic and heroic adventure.”
He saw Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” when he was 8.
“I mimed enchantment for my parents’ benefit,” he wrote in American Heritage magazine in 2006. “I did a lot of that in those days. They were so sweetly earnest, as I now appreciatively recall, about introducing me to ‘the finer things.’ Their problem back then was finding, in Milwaukee, finer things for me to appreciate.”
Mr. Schickel graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and moved to New York, where he freelanced for magazines and reviewed his first film, “Sammy Going South,” starring Edward G. Robinson, in 1963. He described it as “quite a good little movie.”
His marriage to Julia Carroll Whedon, a writer, ended in divorce. In addition to their daughter Erika, who is also a writer, he is survived by another daughter from that marriage, Jessica Vild; a stepdaughter, Ali Rubinstein, from his second marriage, to the former Carol Rubinstein, a TV producer who died in 1991; and four grandchildren.
His books included biographies of Woody Allen, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Lena Horne and Elia Kazan. His documentaries include a PBS series, “The Men Who Made the Movies.”
“The truth, very simply, is that most movies are lousy or, at best, routine,” Mr. Schickel wrote in “Keepers: The Greatest Films — and Personal Favorites — of a Moviegoing Lifetime” (2015)
“We go to see them, much of the time, in search of something else — the comforting darkness of the theater, the play of light and shadow on the screen, the consolations they offer for some temporary trouble,” he wrote. “A lot of the time we don’t give a hoot what’s playing. We are at a public event for private reasons which we don’t always recognize until later, if at all. It is the occasion, the atmosphere, that we crave.”
|Morgan Freeman with Richard Schickel and Clint Eastwood at An Evening with Clint Eastwood February 17, 2010 in Los Angeles|
Richard Schickel, Time Magazine Film Critic, Dies at 84 – The Hollywood Reporter by Abid Rahman 19th Feb 2017
He wrote 37 books and was involved with 30 documentaries related to the film industry.
Richard Schickel, Time magazine's longtime film critic and a noted chronicler of the movie business, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Schickel's family told the Los Angeles Times that he died after complications from a series of strokes. “He was one of the fathers of American film criticism,” said Schickel's daughter Erika. “He had a singular voice. When he wrote or spoke, he had an old-fashioned way of turning a phrase. He was blunt and succinct both on the page and in life.”Born in Milwaukee in 1933, Schickel began his career in film criticism in the 1960s, first working for Life magazine and then moving over to sister publication Time in 1965. He wrote at a time when film criticism began to take on an intellectual and philosophical dimension that pushed back against established critics and their excessive moralizing and identifying with the prevailing social changes in America found in the New Hollywood movement. His film ciritc contemporaries included The New Yorker's Pauline Kael and The Village Voice's Andrew Sarris.
Schickel retired from Time in 2010, but continued to write film reviews for the online film blog Truthdig. A prolific author, he wrote 37 books related to film, film theory and film history. Among his noted books were biographies on Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, D.W. Griffith and Elia Kazan.
Away from writing, Schickel was an equally prolific documentary filmmaker, having been involved in 30 productions either as a writer or director. His documentaries, most of which were made-for-TV, ranged from popular fare such as The Making of Star Wars (1977) and From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga (1983) to several Emmy-nominated docs including The Men Who Made the Movies (1973), Life Goes to the Movies (1976), Minelli on Minelli (1987), Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey (1994) and Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen (2000). Most recently, he worked on You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008), a three-part series for PBS.
Schickel is survived by his daughters Erika and Jessica, step-daughter Ali Rubinstein and his grandchildren.
|Clint Eastwood, Jane Rosenthal, Darren Aronofsky and Richard Schickel at the Tribeca Talks Directors Series April 27, 2013 in New York|
Film critic Richard Schickel: Tough, honest and ever hopeful for the next great movie,
The Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan, Feb 20th 2017
mysteries. He also had a surprising fondness for art deco furnishings, one that he shared with Time magazine colleagues Richard and Mary Corliss.
But mostly, Schickel loved movies, completely and unreservedly. Though he sometimes lost patience with "the big clanking machines" that Hollywood tended to turn out in recent years, he never lost his optimism that the next film out of the gate would be worth his time.
Even when health problems led to a move to an assisted living facility, Schickel was always happy to look at the films he loved. The last time I saw him, he was hosting a DVD screening for fellow residents of one of his favorites, the Judy Garland-Minnelli charmer "Meet Me in St. Louis."
The joy he felt was palpable, as was the enthusiasm that enabled him to be such a great critic over so many years. It may sound like the kind of cliché he would have rigorously avoided to say we'll not see his like again, but in Richard Schickel's case, it’s the truth.