Alexander Walker (critic)

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For other people of the same name, see Alexander Walker.

Alexander Walker (23 March 1930 – 15 July 2003) was a film critic, born in Portadown, Northern Ireland. He was educated at Queen's University, Belfast, the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium and the University of Michigan,[1] and worked for the Birmingham Post in the 1950s, before becoming film critic of the London Evening Standard in 1960, a role he retained until his death in 2003. He was a highly influential figure within the film industry, and also wrote a number of books including one on Stanley Kubrick, a history of the impact made on Hollywood by the rise of the talkies (The Shattered Silents) and a biography of Elizabeth Taylor. His most extensive work is a history of British cinema, spread over three books: Hollywood England, National Heroes and Icons in the Fire. Towards the end of his life his capsule reviews of movies on tv for the Standard became hilariously, sadly error prone. For instance, on 27/10/94 he said that Herzog's Cobra Verde was about a "Russian soldier on a weekend leave"! It isn't. He mixed up Critters with Gremlins and Sound of Music with Cabaret. Other critics chuckled about these failings in private, but even the editor of his paper was too scared of Walker to raise the problem with him when one fellow-hack wrote a letter saying it was becoming embarrassing.

He assembled a collection of more than 200 drawings and prints by modern artists, which were bequeathed to the British Museum upon his death in 2003. In 1968, he was a member of the jury at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.[2]

He is portrayed by Tim Jahn in a film, The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000).[1][dead link], and in the satirical sketch show Not The Nine O'Clock News by Mel Smith.[3]


  • Double Takes - notes and afterthoughts on the movies 1956-1976, Elm Tree Books 1977
  • His history of British Film:
    • Hollywood UK – The British Film Industry in the 1960s, New York, Stein and Day 1974
    • National Heroes – British Cinema in the 70s and 80s, London: Harrap 1985
    • Icons in the Fire – the rise and fall of almost everybody in the British film industry 1984-2000, London, Orion Books 2004
  • Stanley Kubrick - Director, Norton 1999
  • Audrey - her real story, St. Martin's Press 1995
  • Bette Davis – a celebration, New York: Applause Theatre Books, 1998
  • Dietrich, New York: Harper and Row 1984
  • The Celluloid Sacrifice – aspects of sex in the movies, London: Joseph 1966
  • Elizabeth - The Life of Elizabeth Taylor, Weidenfeld 1991
  • Garbo - A portrait, Macmillan 1980
  • Fatal Charm – The Life of Rex Harrison, St. Martin's Press 1993
  • Joan Crawford - the ultimate star, Harper and Row 1983
  • It's only a movie, Ingrid – encounters on and off the screen, London, Headline 1988
  • Peter Sellers - the authorized biography, Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1981
  • Vivien - The life of Vivien Leigh, Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1987
  • Rudolph Valentino, Stein and Day 1976
  • Shattered Silents - how the talkies came to stay, London: Elm Tree Books 1978, New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1980
  • Stanley Kubrick directs, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich 1972
  • Stardom - the Hollywood phenomenon, Stein and Day 1970


  1. ^ Obituary:Alexander Walker The Guardian,16 July 2003.Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "Berlinale 1968: Juries". Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  3. ^ Video on YouTube