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Obit: New York Film Critic Judith Crist

by Aljean Harmetz
August 7, 2012 9:06 PM
1 Comment
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Judith Klein was born in New York on May 22, 1922, then moved with her family to Montreal. Her father, Solomon Klein, a jeweler and furrier, lost his business in the Depression and became a traveling salesman to support the family which returned to New York when Crist was 12. After Hunter College, she did graduate work in 18th century English literature at Columbia and eventually graduated from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.  Later, she was an adjunct professor there from 1958 until last February.  Her marriage of 47 years to William B. Crist, a public-relations executive, ended with his death in 1993.

She fell in love with the movies when she saw Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” (1925) she told interviewer Eve Berliner five years ago.  “Eating his shoelaces as if they were spaghetti, tipping the cabin at the edge of the precipice.”

In that same interview, at the age of 85, Crist told Berliner, “The greatest day of my life I cut school and went to see ‘Gone With the Wind’ at the Capitol for 25 cents, then across the street to the Rialto to see ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and down to 42nd Street for ‘Grand Illusion on Broadway.  And there was still 75 cents left over to sustain us with an enormous chunk of many-layered whipped cream pie at Hector’s!”

Crist is survived by her son Steven, formerly the horse racing reporter for the New York Times and, since 1998, the publisher of Daily Racing Form.  On the Racing Form’s website, Crist said that the family was planning a private funeral and will announce a date for a memorial service to be held next month.

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More: Critics, Obit

1 Comment

  • Brian | August 8, 2012 1:06 PMReply

    I don't know how many of you have seen SPENCER'S MOUNTAIN (based on the same source material that provided the basis for "The Waltons"), but Crist was certainly right about it. It's all about teenage sex. IIRC, coquettish little Mimsy Farmer spent much of the film trying to give lucky James MacArthur (in the JohnBoy part) a roll in the hay. (Delmer Daves, the film's director, was obsessed with that subject. See also: A SUMMER PLACE, PARRISH and SUSAN SLADE.)

    When I was 12, I went with my father to an advance screening of BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965). It was also a critics' screening (at the old Cinerama on Broadway). Outside, we discussed the film and I was all excited about it because of the action and spectacle while my father, a WWII veteran, insisted it had no relation to the facts of the actual battle. He later insisted that Ms. Crist was standing nearby because in her review the next day in the Herald Tribune she wrote something about how 12-year-old boys would find it exciting but old soldiers would protest.

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