Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve lost some writers who’ve made unique contributions to film criticism. At Film Studies for Free, Catherine Grant has posted an entry in memory of “radical film and media scholar” Chuck Kleinhans. “Along with his wonderful partner in life and work Julia Lesage, Chuck has been a monumentally good friend to this blog over the years, mostly in his capacity as co-founding co-editor of the brilliant journal JUMP CUT, and as a phenomenal advocate for open access and ‘small gauge’ scholarly and activist publishing. Alongside his own foundational work in cinema and media scholarship, Chuck was a remarkable and hugely influential mentor to many very important scholars in our field.” Here you’ll find videos of Kleinhans’s lectures and links to more of his work.
Betty French Jarmusch, the pioneering film, theater and music critic who began writing for the Akron Beacon Journal in the 1940’s, has passed away at the age of ninety-six, reports John Petkovic for the Plain Dealer. “Her inquisitive mind and gentle charm made her comfortable interviewing the stars of the day—including Ginger Rogers, Wallace Beery and Boris Karloff—or comfortable standing in an elevator with Roy Rogers’s palomino, Trigger.” When Ruth Elizabeth French married Robert Jarmusch in 1948, she “left the Beacon to raise their children” but “continued writing stories for various publications on politics, antiques, and history. She also penned a movie script about World War II spies living in Akron called Zeppelin Blondes.” She’s survived by her sons, Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise, Paterson) and photographer and filmmaker Tom Jarmusch, and her daughter, Ann Elizabeth Jarmusch.
At RogerEbert.com, Chaz Ebert and Brian Tallerico remember one of their contributors, Brian Doan. “Whether he was writing about the Twelve Scenes of Christmas, or Cameron Crowe, or tracing the superheroic roots of Josh Whedon, Brian’s contributions were always inviting, full of ideas, and sometimes even mystical. His passion for film came through in every article.” Dennis Cozzalio has put together a collection of excerpts from Doan’s contributions to a 2015 conversation about that year in movies, and notes that “there has been so much testimony put forth by those who knew him, in the flesh and, as many of us did, only virtually, about Brian’s spirit, his optimism, the fertility of his mind and he boundless enthusiasm as a teacher.”
Also . . .
“If you were a director or producer coming up in the New York independent film scene of the early 1990’s, you wanted to work with Thérèse DePrez,” writes Filmmaker editor Scott Macaulay. “Right out of the gate as a production designer, DePrez . . . defined for herself an imaginative, boldly-colored and stylized approach that brought a high level of ambition and finesse to often meagerly-budgeted films.” DePrez “cited inspirations from Jean Cocteau and Georges Melies to Dr. Strangelove and Bladerunner and looked to, as Ted Hope wrote for an early-career 1994 Filmmaker magazine profile, ‘weave heavy conceptual design through [a film’s] plot and characters’ psychology.’” DePrez worked with Tom DiCillo on Living in Oblivion (1995), Mary Harron on I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), Todd Solondz on Happiness (1998), Spike Lee on Summer of Sam (1999), Stephen Frears on High Fidelity (2000), Darren Aronofsky on Black Swan (2010), and Park Chan-wook on Stoker (2013).
“Jerry Greenberg, the film editor whose Oscar-winning work on the 1971 crime thriller The French Connection produced one of the most famous car chases in cinema history, died Friday.” Carolyn Giardina for the Hollywood Reporter: “Greenberg earned two additional Oscar nominations, both in 1980, for Kramer vs. Kramer and Apocalypse Now. In 2015, he was honored by the American Cinema Editors with its Career Achievement Award.” Greenberg, who was eighty-one, worked with Dede Allen on Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967). “His filmography also includes Alice’s Restaurant (1969), The Boys in the Band (1970), They Might Be Giants (1971), Dressed to Kill (1980), Heaven’s Gate (1980), Reds (1981), Still of the Night (1982), Scarface (1983), Wise Guys (1986), The Untouchables (1987), The Accused (1988), Awakenings (1990), American History X (1998), Inspector Gadget (1999), Get Carter (2000), and Trapped (2002).”
“Howard Gottfried, who received an Oscar nomination as producer of the 1976 media satire Network,” has passed away at the age of ninety-four. Pat Saperstein for Variety: “Gottfried also partnered with Network writer Paddy Chayefsky on films including Altered States and The Hospital. He met Chayefsky as a regular in a New York card game, and the two started on their first project, The Hospital. Gottfried met the film’s lead, George C. Scott, when Gottfried served as his divorce attorney.”
“Hiep Thi Le, who escaped Vietnam on a fishing boat when she was about nine and a dozen years later became an unlikely movie star when she was cast as the central figure in Oliver Stone’s 1993 film Heaven and Earth, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles,” reports Neil Genzlinger for the New York Times. “Ms. Le went on to appear in about a dozen other movies, including Cruel Intentions (1999); Green Dragon (2001), which was about Vietnam War refugees; and Return to Pontianak (2001), which was directed by her husband, the writer and director Djinn. They had two children.” And she was only forty-six.
“Character actor Conrad Brooks, who attained film immortality (of a sort) by appearing as a bumbling cop in ‘worst director’ Ed Wood’s legendarily inept sci-fi-horror mashup Plan 9 From Outer Space, has died,” reports Tony Mostrom for the LA Weekly. Brooks, who was eighty-six, “was the last surviving member of Ed Wood’s 1950s-era ‘stock company’ of on-screen eccentrics, a group that included TV horror-hostess Vampira, pop psychic Criswell and a then-down-on-his-luck Bela Lugosi.”
Heather Menzies-Urich, “best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died Sunday night,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. The widow of actor Robert Urich was sixty-eight. “Her other feature films credits included Hawaii, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Piranha, and Endangered Species. Her TV credits included Dragnet, Bonanza, Marcus Welby M.D., The Bob Newhart Show, and starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series Logan’s Run.”
“Clifford Irving, who perpetrated one of the biggest literary hoaxes of the 20th century in the early 1970s when he concocted a supposedly authorized autobiography of the billionaire Howard Hughes based on meetings and interviews that never took place,” has died, aged eighty-seven, reports William Grimes for the New York Times.
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