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She is the author of Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento (1991) and works of erotic fiction and erotic cinema, as well as providing DVD commentary. She is the founder of 120 Days Books, which became an imprint of Riverdale Avenue Books.
McDonagh was born in New York City, the daughter of Don McDonagh, a dance critic and author, and Jennifer Jane Tobutt, She received her Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College and her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University, where she co-founded and edited the Columbia Film Review. She was simultaneously working in the publicity department of the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine and Peter Martins, eventually becoming head of publicity.
After leaving New York City Ballet, McDonagh taught film as an adjunct professor at Hunter College and Brooklyn College, during which time she completed Filmmaking on the Fringe: The Good, The Bad, and the Deviant Directors and The 50 Most Erotic Films of All Time. Her freelance work during this period included film pieces for The New York Times.
Her book Movie Lust, third in the Sasquatch Books series begun with Book Lust by Nancy Pearl and Music Lust by Nic Harcourt, was published August 28, 2006. Later that year, she became the founding vice-president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.[non-primary source needed] She is also a member of the New York Film Critics Online.
In 2014, McDonagh created the company 120 Days Books to republish rare 1970s and 1980s gay-erotica genre novels, beginning with a pair of two-in-one volumes: the crime thrillers Man Eater and Night of the Sadist and the supernatural fantasies Vampire's Kiss and Gay Vampire. Later in the decade, this became an imprint of Riverdale Avenue Books.
McDonagh provides interviews and second-channel commentary on DVD / Blu-ray releases, including for director Paul Schrader's Blue Collar, and Tenebrae, and liner notes, including for the Criterion Collection releases The Tunnel, The Innocents, Kuroneko, and the paired Corridors of Blood/The Haunted Strangler, and Arrow Video's Dressed to Kill. She stars in a documentary short, speaking on serial-killer cinema, on the Criterion Collection release of The Silence of the Lambs.
- Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento, (London, England, Sun Tavern Fields, 1991; reissued New York, Citadel Press, 1994) ISBN 0-9517012-4-X
- Filmmaking on the Fringe: The Good, the Bad, and the Deviant Directors (New York, Carol Publishing Corporation, 1995) ISBN 0-8065-1557-0
- The 50 Most Erotic Films of All Time: From Pandora's Box to Basic Instinct (New York, Carol Publishing Corporation, 1996) ISBN 0-8065-1697-6
- Movie Lust: Recommended Viewing for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason (Seattle, Wash., Sasquatch Books, 2006) ISBN 1-57061-478-4
- Lassalle, Nancy, and Maitland McDonagh, Lincoln Kirstein, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, New York City Ballet: Fortieth Anniversary (New York, New York City Ballet, 1988)
- McDonagh, Maitland (editor). Holiday Gay: Tales of Love, Lust, Romance and Other Seasonal Gifts (2018) New York: Riverdale Avenue Books. ISBN 978-1-626-01494-7
Maitland McDonagh essays appear in:
- Bryce, Allan, ed. (2000). "The Living Dead at Miskatonic Morgue [and] Sometimes They Come Back...Again". Zombie. Liskead, Cornwall, England: Stray Cat Publishing. ISBN 978-0953326129.
- Bryce, Allan, ed. (2000). "Martine Beswicke: Sister Hyde [and] Barbara Steele: Witches and Bitches". Fantasy Females. Liskead, Cornwall, England: Stray Cat Publishing. ISBN 0953326144.
- White, Andrew, ed. (2000). "You Gotta Have Park: Come Down by the Riverside". Time Out Book of New York Walks. London: Time Out / Penguin. ISBN 978-0140296228.
- Sidaris, Andy (2003). "On Andy's Gang". Bullets Bombs and Babes. Heavy Metal Books. ISBN 978-1932413007.
- Horwath, Alexander, ed. (2004). "The Exploitation Generation. or: How Marginal Movies Came in from the Cold". The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood Cinema in the 1970s. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 978-9053564936.
- Edwards, Matthew, ed. (2007). "Writing Argento". Film Out of Bounds: Essays and Interviews on Non-Mainstream Cinema Worldwide. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786429707.
- Nette, Andrew, ed. (2019). "Fifty Shades of Gay: An Introduction to the Gay Adult Pulp of the 1970s". Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980. PM Press. ISBN 9781629636665.
- Kisselgoff, Anna (2019-12-13). "Don McDonagh, Dance Critic and Author, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
- Tyre, Peg (September 29, 1986). "Future Shock at the City Ballet?". New York.
- Kenny, Glenn (April 25, 2016). "Dario Argento's "Deep Red" and "Tenebrae" Get Massive Blu-Ray Re-Releases". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
Argento’s films have inspired piles of erudite and equally obsessive commentary, beginning with Maitland McDonagh's 1991 book 'Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds.'
- "Maitland McDonagh". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
- "Our Members". New York Film Critics Online. Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Noh, David (January 8, 2015). "Pulped!". Gay City News. Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
- 120 Days Books at Riverdale Avenue Books. Retrieved on January 7, 2020.
- Pizzello, Chris (May 2000). "DVD Playback: Blue Collar". American Cinematographer. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017.
- Foster, Tyler (October 5, 2016). "Tenebrae (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Smith, Jordan M. (September 23, 2014). "Criterion Collection: The Innocents Blu-ray Review". Ion Cinema. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Brevet, Brad (October 18, 2011). "Blu-ray Review: 'Kuroneko' (Criterion Collection)". RopeOfSilicon.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Hudson, David (October 25, 2011). "Scary Monsters 2011, Round 3". The Notebook (MUBI). Archived from the original on December 9, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Holmes, Matt (July 29, 2013). "Win: Dressed To Kill Blu-ray". WhatCulture.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Evangelista, Chris (February 13, 2018). "New Blu-ray Releases: 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Night of the Living Dead' From the Criterion Collection". /Film. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
- "Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria". Vulture.com. October 23, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
- Fear, David (October 30, 2018). "Which Witch is Which: In Praise of the Original Suspira". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
- New York City Ballet : [souvenir program] fortieth anniversary : 1988. WorldCat. OCLC 430390176.
- Maitland McDonagh at IMDb
- Sieber, Mark. "Dario Argento, Maitland McDonagh, and Two Evil Eyes". HorrorDrive-In.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- Interview with Maitland McDonagh at Behind the Couch