It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Robin Wood, a true lion of film criticism and a dear friend. How does one begin to describe the impact this writer and thinker had on his field? For more than four decades, from his hugely influential Hitchcock’s Films (1965) and Howard Hawks (1968) to his collection Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (1986) and what he told me was his favorite work, Sexual Politics & Narrative Film (1998), Robin’s voice resounded through (and helped define) the discipline of cinema studies. His writing was erudite yet inviting, lucid, incredibly engaging, sometimes provocative and personal, always thoughtful, and, of course, enormously intelligent and politically committed. There was no one else like him.
My first encounter with his writing was his book Hitchcock’s Films Revisited (1989), a revision of the earlier work and a volume that changed the way I think about film and inspired me in many ways beyond that. I was honored to be able to meet and work with him in my years here at Criterion.
Robin often made pleas for Criterion to put out his favorite films, and Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow always topped that list. This fall, we were finally able to put that project together, and, at his suggestion, to include his chapter on the film from Sexual Politics. We are dedicating the release to his memory.
Robin was a beloved Criterion contributor, and we want to share his work for us with you here. In order of appearance: his essays for The Scarlet Empress, Rebecca, The Furies, Le plaisir, and The Lady Vanishes, and his Top 10, for which he chose the portrait with cat featured below.
We will all miss Robin very much. —Liz Helfgott