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Richard Corliss

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Richard Corliss
Richard Nelson Corliss

(1944-03-06)March 6, 1944
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 23, 2015(2015-04-23) (aged 71)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materSt. Joseph's College
Columbia University
New York University
Occupation(s)Editor, writer, critic
Years active1966–2015
Notable work
  • Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in American Cinema[1]
  • Greta Garbo (A Pyramid illustrated history of the movies)[2]
  • 1980 cover story on Dallas's "Who Shot J.R.?"[3]
Mary Elizabeth Yushak
(m. 1969)

Richard Nelson Corliss (March 6, 1944 – April 23, 2015) was an American film critic and magazine editor for Time. He focused on movies, with occasional articles on other subjects.[4]

He was the former editor-in-chief of Film Comment and authored several books including Talking Pictures,[5] which, along with other publications, drew early attention to the screenwriter, as opposed to the director.

Personal life and background[edit]

Corliss was born in 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[6] the son of Elizabeth Brown (née McCluskey) and Paul William Corliss.[6] He attended St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia (now Saint Joseph's University), obtaining a bachelor's degree, before progressing to Columbia University to earn a master's degree in film studies. Corliss resided in New York City with his wife, Mary, whom he married on Sunday, August 31, 1969. Mary was formerly a curator in the Film Stills Archive of the Museum of Modern Art.

In a 1990 article, Corliss mentions his mother clipping movie ads with quotes of his and posting them to her refrigerator door.[7]

On April 23, 2015, Corliss died under hospice care in New York City after suffering a stroke.[8]


Corliss wrote for many magazines—National Review from 1966 to 1970, New Times, Maclean's and SoHo Weekly News in 1980. At Film Comment, Corliss helped draw attention to the screenwriter in the creation of movies. Corliss challenged Andrew Sarris's idea of the Director as author or auteur of this work. Corliss was one of Sarris' students at New York University (NYU); the two remained friends until Sarris' death.

Corliss brought Jonathan Rosenbaum to Film Comment as a Paris correspondent. Despite working for National Review, a conservative magazine, Corliss was a self-described "liberal".[9] In 1980, Corliss joined Time. Although he started as an associate editor, he was promoted to senior writer by 1985.

Corliss wrote for time.com as well as the print magazine including a retired column about nostalgic pop culture called That Old Feeling. He wrote occasional articles for Time. He was an occasional guest on Charlie Rose's talk show commenting on new releases, mostly during the 1990s with Janet Maslin and David Denby. His last appearance on the show was in December 2005 to talk about the year in film. Corliss also appeared on A&E Biography to talk about the life and work of Jackie Chan,[10] and appeared in Richard Schickel's documentary about Warner Brothers.

Corliss attended the Cannes Film Festival along with Roger Ebert and Todd McCarthy for the longest period of any US journalist. He also attended festivals in Toronto and Venice. Corliss used to work on the board of the New York Film Festival, but resigned in 1987 after longtime head Richard Roud was fired due to his challenging of editorial direction of the festival.

Lolita, Corliss's third book, was a study of Vladimir Nabokov's book and Stanley Kubrick's film. Later Corliss has written an introductory essay for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A Portrait of the Ang Lee Film.[11]

Corliss also admired the Pixar movies, including listing Finding Nemo as one of his and fellow Time critic Richard Schickel's 100 all-time greatest movies. With recent Pixar releases Cars and Ratatouille Corliss had access into the studio's inner workings.[12] Pixar director Brad Bird has said of critics in general that he has "got nothing against critics." He also that he had "done very well with them, over the years."[13]

In addition to writing for Time, Corliss had a lengthy association with Film Comment magazine, serving as its editor from 1970 to 1990. Corliss covered movies for the magazine and for time.com simultaneously. Corliss along with Martin Scorsese first came up with the idea for the issue on "guilty pleasures".[14]

Corliss along with Richard Schickel made a 100 Greatest movies list. Corliss alone created lists of the 25 greatest villains, the 25 best horror films, and the 25 most important films on race. In addition Corliss was on the 2001 jury for AFI's 100 Greatest movies list. In a 1993 Time magazine movie review of The Crying Game, Corliss subtly gave away the spoiler of the film, by spelling it out with the first letters of each paragraph of his review.[15]

In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll, Corliss cast votes for Chungking Express, Citizen Kane, Historie(s) du Cinema, The Lady Eve, Mouchette, Pyaasa, The Searchers, The Seventh Seal and WALL-E.[16]

Conflict and criticism[edit]

Corliss was critical of the escalating expenditure on action films, writing in his review of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) that "the cost of the product is not passed on to the consumer. Moviegoers pay as much for a ticket to a no-budget documentary like Paris Is Burning (1990) as they do for admission to any superspectacle."[17]

Corliss had movies on his top ten lists that fellow Time critic Richard Schickel rated the worst of the year. These included 2001's Moulin Rouge!, 2003's Cold Mountain and 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In August 2004, Stephen King, criticizing what he saw as a growing trend of leniency towards films by critics, included Corliss among a number of "formerly reliable critics who seem to have gone remarkably soft – not to say softhearted and sometimes softheaded – in their old age."[18]

Corliss appears in the 2009 documentary film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, confessing that he was the film critic who, in the 1970s, coined the term "Paulettes" for the ardent followers of Pauline Kael, a label which has stuck.[citation needed]

Corliss criticized Siskel and Ebert in his Film Comment article, "All Thumbs?: Or, Is There a Future For Film Criticism?",[19] and Ebert responded with "All Stars: Or Is There a Cure For Criticism?"[20] Corliss praised Ebert in a June 23, 2007 article "Thumbs up for Roger Ebert."[21] Corliss's dialogue with Ebert in Film Comment was reprinted in Ebert's Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert.[22] Corliss appeared in the Ebert documentary Life Itself, where he praised Ebert's "polymathic genius."

Number Ones from Corliss' Top-Tens[edit]

Best English language film in parentheses:



  • Corliss, Richard (1974). Talking pictures : screenwriters in the American cinema, 1927-1973. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press.
  • Greta Garbo (1974)
  • Lolita (1995)
  • Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate) (2014)


  • Corliss, Richard (April 20, 2015). "Date with an android : two guys and a robot square off in Alex Garland's Ex Machina". The Culture. Reviews. Time. Vol. 185, no. 14 (South Pacific ed.). p. 45.


  1. ^ Corliss, Richard (1974). Talking Pictures : Screenwriters in the American Cinema, 1927–1973 (1st ed.). Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press. ISBN 978-0879510077.
  2. ^ Corliss, Richard (1974). Sennett, Ted (ed.). Greta Garbo (1st ed.). New York: Pyramid Publications. ISBN 978-0515034806.
  3. ^ Richard, Corliss (August 11, 1980). "TV's Dallas: Whodunit?". Time Magazine.
  4. ^ Villanova University Proquest search list of 2596 articles, 2009-2005.
  5. ^ Richard Corliss (1974), Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in the American Cinema, 1927–1973
  6. ^ a b Profile, filmreference.com; accessed September 6, 2014.
  7. ^ Richard Corliss (1990) "All Thumbs, Or, Is There a Future for Film Criticism?" Film Comment, March/April. Reprinted in Roger Ebert (2006), Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert, p. 394.
  8. ^ Weber, Bruce (April 24, 2015). "Richard Corliss, 71, Longtime Film Critic for Time, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  9. ^ Richard Corliss (August 17, 2007). "Superbad: A Fine Bromance". Time. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007.
  10. ^ Jackie Chan: From Stuntman to Superstar at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  11. ^ "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A Portrait of Ang Lee's Epic Film". Barnes & Noble. January 23, 2001. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  12. ^ Corliss/Emeryville, Richard (June 7, 2007). "Savoring Pixar's Ratatouille". Time. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007.
  13. ^ Blogsite Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, orlandosentinel.com; accessed September 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Mail Page". Entertainment Weekly. October 3, 1997.
  15. ^ Corliss, Richard (January 25, 1993). "Queuing for the Crying Game". Time magazine. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  16. ^ Corliss, Richard. "Analysis: The Greatest Films of All Time 2012/ All voters". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016.
  17. ^ Corliss, Richard (July 8, 1991). "Half A Terrific Terminator". Time. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  18. ^ "Stephen King on summer film's four-star follies". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. February 1, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  19. ^ Corliss, Richard (1990). "All Thumbs: Or, Is There a Future For Film Criticism?". Film Comment.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger. "All Stars: Or, Is There a Cure For Criticism?". Film Comment.
  21. ^ Corliss, Richard (June 23, 2007). "Thumbs Up For Roger Ebert". Time Magazine.
  22. ^ Ebert, Roger (2006). Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert. University of Chicago Press.

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