Philip French dead: Legendary film critic dies aged 82

French produced thousands of film reviews over five decades 

Heather Saul
Tuesday 27 October 2015 12:25
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Philip French, the British film critic and former radio producer, has passed away aged 82.

His death was announced by The Observer, where he worked for more than 50 years.

French was born in Liverpool in 1933. He went on to study law at Exeter College, in Oxford, and Journalism at a post graduate level at Indiana University in Bloomington.

He produced thousands of reviews for The Observer, analysing a number of cult films over five decades.

In an interview reflecting back on his career to mark his retirement in 2013, French told The Guardian he believed the primary responsibility bestowed upon him as chief critic was to deliver an honest appraisal of each film.

“From time to time you may pull your punches, but not in the next round,” he said. “You have to be truthful.”

John Mullholland, the editor of The Observer, admitted in the same interview that his reviews would be “irreplaceable” for many readers.

News of his death was met with an outpouring of tributes from magazines and those in the film industry.

French was optimistic about the sustainability of film reviewing as a profession, writing in 2012: "Thirty years ago, the majority of us thought that movie critics would soon be following saddlers and harness-makers into oblivion. Luckily that hasn't proved the case in a world where films are more widely available than ever, are taken more seriously and are so well entrenched culturally that we no longer need to describe the products of the 10th muse as the new rock'n'roll. My successors will inherit a profession with a remarkable past and an assured future."

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