Stanley Kauffmann, the New Republic's Film Critic of 54 Years, Dies at 97

News
by Sam Adams
October 9, 2013 11:17 AM
69 Comments
  • |

The New Republic announced this morning that Stanley Kauffmann, who had been the magazine's critic for more than half a century, died this morning at the age of 97. The length of Kauffmann's tenure is almost unimaginable -- it's safe to his record will never be broken -- as, more importantly, is the sustained quality of his work. Apart from Ten Great Films, which features Kauffmann writing on The Gold Rush, Rashomon, Some Like It Hot and Tokyo Story among others, most of the printed collections of his work are out of print, but TNR's site has a generous selection of his work available, including his final review, of Our Nixon, Museum Hours and Israel: A Home Movie. Consider how many critics even a third his age show such an interest in under-the-radar films.

Before he was a film critic, Kauffmann was a literary agent, responsible for helping Walker Percy shape The Moviegoer into its final form . (He also published a novel, The Philanderer, which was prosecuted for obscenity in Britain.) Kauffmann's 1966 TNR attack on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood was doubly definitive:  In taking aim at Capote's "congenital inability to write straightforward English," Kauffmann indicates not only his critical preferences but the strength of his writing, which which was elegant but never florid, breathtaking in its erudition and yet utterly approachable in style. (No wonder he loved the neo-neorealist films of Bahman Ghobadi.) Here he is on Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon, in a breezy but tightly packed paragraph you could spend days thinking about:

[T]he film's quality -- and it has a quality, sad, desperate, ludicrous, entangled -- comes from the collaboration of Lumet and his actors. First, right down the line, he has cast every part perfectly. Then, with his principals, he has worked with just enough control and enough relaxation to create tight naturalistic surfaces that evoke ambiguous inward states -- a dialectic that parallels Allen's editing. 

Critic Tim Grierson pointed me to one of his favorite pieces, "Why I'm Not Bored," from 1974, in which Kauffmann answers the question every critic gets asked eventually: Don't you ever get bored with seeing movies?

[T]he answer is a firm no. A happy no. To salute the obvious, this doesn't mean that I never see boring films or that I am unborable. On the contrary I'm somewhat more acutely borable -- by reason, I tell myself, of professional acuteness -- than most of my friends. But the idea of going to films is never boring. The editor of TNR once generously suggested that I also write about television from time to time. The prospect of merely crossing the living room to switch on TV dramas was numbing. But even when I have to leave the house to see the most unpromising of films (and I limit myself to those with at least some promise), there is something beyond the specifics of the film that tingles and attracts.

On the occasion of Kauffmann's 50th anniversary at The New Republic, Jeremy McCarter wrote a Newsweek profile that called Kauffmann "a cultural critic for the ages." And now, like Lincoln, he belongs to the ages.

Criticwire will continue to collect tributes to Kauffmann throughout the day, and invites readers to leave their own in the comments.

Carrie RickeyThe Philadelphia Inquirer:

My favorite review of Kauffmann's was about Ed Zwick's Glory. I can't find it online, but I remember the description "patient and bloody." Such simple words to convey complexity.You can tell a lot about a critic by whether his/her best pieces are appreciative or slams, and Kauffmann's best pieces were positive reviews. I loved that he was the guy who discovered the manuscript of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer. 

James WoolcottVanity Fair:

I kept learning from him up to the last. His very longevity carried a Shavian salutation: He had traveled down a long hallway of film and stage history and yet here he was, issue in, issue out, fully engaged with the latest item on the docket. None of us wins immortality, but Stanley Kauffmann came nearest. 

David DenbyThe New Yorker:

If I may put it a little baldly, Stanley electrified educated people with the news that movies had become one of the high arts again, and that there were contemporary works -- by Bergman, Truffaut, Antonioni, and many other directors -- the equal of the masterpieces of the silent era. 

David ThomsonThe New Republic:

Stanley did not found a theory or make a cult out of his opinions. He had a steady and firm belief that amid so much commercial fodder the cinema could produce works of art and imaginative reach to live beside the best of the other arts. 

News
  • |
You might also like:

69 Comments

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:50 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:50 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:50 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:48 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:48 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:47 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:47 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Alex Palmieri | December 10, 2013 9:47 PMReply

    I was very lucky. In my Catholic junior high school in Toronto, the first serious books on cinema I came across were by James Agee, Dwight MacDonald and Stanley Kauffmann. Along with those two other distinguished gentlemen, Kauffmann was the first film critic who taught me the medium, as an art form.

    I would never say that I agreed with everything Kauffmann wrote about film - I think he failed in his assessments of both Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick but was superb regarding Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - I've been in his debt ever since. Years ago, I met a New York critic at the Toronto Film Festival (forgive me, I forget her name), who knew Kauffmann and I asked her to send along my admiration and best wishes to him. That was the closest I ever got to one of my New York literary heroes.

    Where have such individuals gone? Agee, MacDonald and Kauffmann could write about anything - film, literature, art, politics. It made their film criticism so much more interesting and rewarding. Overwhelmingly, most critics today are as formula and superficial as the movies they cover.

    "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you."
    - Paul Simon

    RIP Mr. Kauffmann and thank you.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 4:03 AMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Groth | November 18, 2013 4:03 AMReply

    Whenever I watch a movie prior to about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Terry | October 9, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    Stanley Kauffmann was also a champion to the lgbt community. In the 1960s, he wrote an article in the Times that argued loudly for the right of gay playwrights to have absolute equality in presenting their work on stage, including sex scenes and writing about gay characters. Edward Albee wrote him a letter of praise and asked him to review his work. Susan Sontag called him a national treasure, and Martin Duberman called him one of the most sensitive and humane writers of our time. He articulated views and gave reasons for his opinions, including that lgbt teachers in grade school should have the right to discuss, if asked, their personal lives as gay men or lesbians. He argued that transgendered children should be allowed to wear the clothing that matched their minds, such as his belief that, say, a boy who discovers he is a transgendered, should be allowed to wear dresses to grade school onward. He broke the grip of censorship in England when he was charged with obscenity for a novel of his. He won, the judge agreed with Kauffmann, and freedom in the arts in England were never the same. Apart from the great Penelope Gilliatt, no other critic had the capacity to understand and explain complex works of art. Like Gilliatt, he never used Pauine Kael's hyperbole, and he did not stab people through the back as Kael did. He was responsible for helping hundreds of students, including LGBTs, to get jobs after university. At the last, he reviews became more like Ozu distillations of the experience of living, thinking, learning. He wrote to the end with a kind of perfection achieved through simplicity and an unequaled knowledge of American and international culture. Penelope Gilliatt and Stanley Kauffmann, the two best serious film critics, the most brilliant and dazzlingly informed, and utterly devoted with every breath in their bodies to the arts of film, theatre, literature, opera, and on. It doesn't matter whether their works are still in print or not. Their work now lies complete and ready to amaze generations of serious film goers for as long as people care about movies. I can imagine some enterprising lover of movies, or what movies have become, in 500 years or so, gaping with gratitude for Kauffmann's reviews of films such as Persona, 8 1/2, L'Aventurra; and Gilliatt's reviews of Bergman's The Passion of Anna, Tati's Playtime, the films of Godard, Fassbinder, Ozu, etc. We shall never see their likes again. It was, always will be, an honor to read such great critics. Meanwhile, Pauline Kael and the Paulette's are growing more obscure due to the shallowness of their writing and the hyperbole that isn't standing. Gilliatt and Kauffmann are forever. As a gay man, thank you Stanley and Penelope, both of you, for fighting so hard for the rights of lgbt artists to work with equal dignity and respect and freedom as their straight counterparts. Now light up the stars as you did the world of the arts.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • Gary Groth | November 18, 2013 2:12 PM

    Whenever I watch a movie made after about 1955, and want an insightful critical opinion that I can measure against my own reaction, I pull the appropriate Kauffmann book off the shelf — four times out of five, he's reviewed it!

    John Simon is now the last man standing.

  • harriet morrison | October 9, 2013 2:27 PMReply

    Privileged to have attended a masters' seminar at CUNY with SK in the late '70s. A full education in writing film criticism in six short sessions. Mr. Kauffmann taught me how to summarize a film plot in one paragraph so the criticism would not be a protracted regurgitation of the story. He totally understood the medium of film, its unique vocabulary, the scope of film arts and crafts. His was as knowledgeable about editors, directors of photography, sound designers et al as he was about actors, screenwriters and directors and took care to bring their names above the line. His generosity and dry wit remain with me. I was fortunate enough to accompany him to numerous screenings and previews. We met on occasion and corresponded by postcard for years. He is irreplaceable. RIP with his beloved wife Laura.

Email Updates