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Pauline Kael

Dates: June 19, 1919 - September 3, 2001

Occupation: film critic, writer

Born in California, Pauline Kael is remembered as the often-acerbic New Yorker movie critic from 1967-1991.

Beginning soon after graduation from the University of California at Berkeley, Pauline Kael took up writing instead of her other option: attending law school. She wrote in many media, but her work reviewing films brought her to wide attention when she published I Lost It at the Movies in 1965.

Pauline Kael then began writing for national publications, and from 1967 to 1991 was the New Yorker's movie critic, writing "The Current Column." Her easy-to-understand and non-academic approach to film reviews also included insults and references to her personal experiences. She used not only what's often been called a "jazzy" style, but did not hesitate to use current slang. She shared her own reactions to films, rather than analyzing them "objectively" according to some abstract standard. She was, to put it mildly, not afraid to be negative if she didn't like a film -- and there were many films she did not like.

Married three times and divorced from each of those husbands, Pauline Kael also had a daughter. Her third husband, Edward Landberg, was the owner of a small art theater which she managed, and turned into the first -- and prototype for later -- twin screen movie house.

By the early 1980s, Pauline Kael had been diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, and when its effect was too great, she retired from her writing career in 1991. She died in Massachusetts.

Also on this site

  • Pauline Kael Quotes

Also on this site

  • Women Writers of the 20th Century
  • Women Film Directors and Producers
  • Actresses

Print Bibliography

  • Francis Davis. Afterglow: A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael.
  • Pauline Kael, Will Brantley. Conversations with Pauline Kael.
  • Pauline Kael. I Lost It at the Movies: Film Writings 1954-1965.
  • Pauline Kael. Going Steady: Film Writings 1968-1969.
  • Pauline Kael. When the Lights Go Down: Film Writings 1975-1980.
  • Pauline Kael. 5001 Nights at the Movies.
  • Pauline Kael. For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies.

About Pauline Kael

  • Categories: film critic, writer
  • Places: New York, California, Massachusetts
  • Period: 20th century century

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