Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Judith Crist (1922 - 2012)

I have such bad timing. I mentioned Judith today to my husband, with regards to her movie reviews in the TV Guide and how badly I wanted to start a database on her made for TV movie reviews so I could access them more easily when I’m writing. And then I come home and find out she’s passed away at the age of 90.

While Judith has no doubt been a well-known film critic for as long as I can remember, I really started to take notice of her when I received a bunch of TV Guides last year (a gift from my awesome hubby). Her reviews are mostly short capsules with little more than a synopsis and a few words in favor of or against the film. However, while these tidbits often fell by the wayside as many threw out their Guides (how could you!), they have come to mean a lot to me. I use her reviews for research or sometimes to simply give me some background or idea of what I’m heading into.

Scan courtesy of TV Guide Time Machine

I am still learning about the world of retro TV, but she seems to have been one of the few consistent voices talking about these movies during its golden era of the 70s and into the 80s. The only other people I can think of are Arvin Marill and Richard Levinson and his writing/producing partner William Link. With the help of these people I have been able to eke out some decent knowledge on the genre, and I owe them a lot.

I am just going to post what I wrote on my Facebook Page because I think it really just says everything I am thinking about right now:

It is with great sadness that I post this news about Judith Crist's passing. As a lover of TV Guide, I have been pouring over my old issues, reading her reviews of TV movies. Strangely enough, my husband just got me 150 (!) old TV Guides from the 70s (which are currently being shipped) and I just said to him that I wanted to start cataloging her reviews in a spreadsheet so I could have a nice way of finding them when I want to quote her. Wow. While she didn't seem super pro-TV movie, she was one of the first critics that I saw taking the form seriously. We might not agree on everything, but I respected and admired her work.

RIP Judith.

Read more about Judith's life here.

Here is Judith at 90 discussing herself in her own words:



buddy51 said...


Thanks for the nice tribute. Actually, I can top you. I started saving all of Crist’s TV Guide reviews in the summer of 1973, when I was in high school, and have virtually all of them (with a brief lapse in 1982-83) till she retired from the magazine in 1987.

I’ll miss her.

Amanda By Night said...

Oh my gosh, Buddy! Color me jealous! I have a quite a few TV Guides here but it sounds like you really took her work seriously! I'm so glad you saved everything!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, even if I'm green with envy!

Brian Perry said...

Thanks for a wonderful tribute. I started reading Judith Crist at the age of 14 and began to seriously consider being a film critic - and I did just that, for a time. Her honesty, integrity, stinging wit abd seeming utter fearlessness made reading her pieces a joy, and I suppose she was the first person to bring real film criticism (as opposed to advertiser-friendly puff-pieces) to a mainstream audience via TV Guide and The Today Show. She was truly one of the great ladies of 20th century journalism and she will be greatly missed. (And about that collection of TV Guides: collor me green with envy!)

buddy51 said...

Amanda, I'm not sure if you are aware, but, in 1974, Crist published a paperback collection of all her TV Guide reviews through 1973 called "Judith Crist's TV Guide to the Movies." I don't know if you would be able to find a copy of it anywhere still, but it might be worth a try.

buddy51 said...

In addition, you really should get a copy of her "The Private Eye, the Cowboy and the Very Naked Girl," a compilation of reviews she wrote between 1963-1967. It's not about TV movies, which I know is your primary interest, but this represents by far her best writing. The pieces are snappy, witty and beautifully written.

A very fun read that I go to often for entertainment. It's going to be a bit weird, reading those pieces now that she's gone.

buddy51 said...

Turns out there ARE copies of "Judith Crist's TV Guide to the Movies" on amazon.

Amanda By Night said...

Hi buddy,

Sorry for the late response. I have added Crist's books to my Christmas list. Thanks so much telling me about them!