Richard Corliss, the longtime film critic for Time magazine, died April 23 in New York City. He was 71.
He had complications from a major stroke that occurred last week, the magazine reported.
“He conveyed nothing so much as the sheer joy of watching movies – and writing about them,” Time theater critic Richard Zoglin said in an online tribute. “He was a perceptive, invaluable guide through three and a half decades of Hollywood films, stars and trends.”
In his 35 years as the magazine’s film critic, Mr. Corliss wrote more than 2,500 reviews and other articles.
“His prose was zestful and sparkling – it simply jumped off the page,” Zoglin said.
He said Mr. Corliss had an encyclopedic knowledge of film and its place in cinematic, cultural and American history.
His reviews were “authoritative but never intimidating” and his tastes “populist but eclectic,” ranging from Chinese kung fu and Disney animation to films by Ingmar Bergman and Werner Herzog.
Early in his career, Mr. Corliss dismissed the box office hit “Star Wars,” stating that “the movie’s ”˜legs’ will prove as vulnerable as C-3PO’s.” But he soon embraced the films by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
Of Spielberg’s “E.T.,” he said that “the movie is a perfectly poised mixture of sweet comedy and 10-speed melodrama, of death and resurrection, of a friendship so pure and powerful it seems like an idealized love.”
He also wrote about other forms entertainment. In a 1987 cover story on Bette Midler, he pronounced the singer-actress “a 5-ft. 1-in. Statue of Libido carrying a torch with a blue flame.”
Mr. Corliss tended to be drawn to the fast-moving, action-packed dramas of directors Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, but Zoglin noted in his Time appreciation that the critic also lavished praise on Anthony Minghella’s more deliberate and painterly “The English Patient” (1996).
“The film is, in an old phrase, beyond gorgeous,” Mr. Corliss wrote. “All year we’ve seen mirages of good films. Here is the real thing.”
Reviews Mr. Corliss wrote that didn’t make Time’s print edition were published on the magazine’s Web site. He also wrote online essays about classic figures of pop culture, including Richard Rodgers, Jack Paar, Marlene Dietrich, S.J. Perelman, Alistair Cooke, Bettie Page and Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss).
Richard Nelson Corliss was born March 6, 1944, in Philadelphia, and he graduated from St. Joseph’s University there.