Film critic Judith Crist dies at 90

Pioneering female journo known for sometimes scathing reviews

Judith Crist, a film critic for TV Guide, “The Today Show” and New York magazine, among other prominent outlets, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, in New York after a long illness. She was 90.

In her multi-decade perch at TV Guide, which boasted 20 millions reader at its peak, the sometimes-biting Crist could influence the moviegoing habits of ordinary Americans in a way that Pauline Kael at the New Yorker could not. Indeed, Film Quarterly declared in 1968 that she was “the American critic with the widest impact on the mass audience.”

Her comments were at times so harsh that director Otto Preminger labeled her “Judas Crist.” She savaged popular films including “The Sound of Music,” “Cleopatra” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but championed the work of auteur directors such as Kurosawa, Fellini and Truffaut.

In 1945 Crist began her career at the New York Herald Tribune, where she was a film critic and arts editor for two decades; she was the first woman to become a full-time critic for a major American newspaper, according to the New York Times. She made regular appearances on NBC’s “Today” from 1964-73 and became the first film critic at New York magazine.

Crist was born in the Bronx, though the family soon moved to Montreal. She earned degrees from Hunter College and the Columbia U. Graduate School of Journalism. She taught at the latter for more than 50 years until this year.

She also made a bigscreen appearance in Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories.”

Survivors include a son, Steven Crist, publisher of the Daily Racing Form.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)