For many years the paper’s critiques were dispassionate, focusing mainly on a new release’s commercial prospects. This began to change in the 1960s and 70s with the acquisition of younger staffers who cared about the medium of film and knew their oats. Some of those writers moved on (voluntarily or otherwise) over the years, but Todd McCarthy remained, and became not only the paper’s senior film critic but its film review editor, assigning more than 1,000 reviews every year to a staff of savvy stringers who attended far-flung film festivals around the world.
People often ask me which film critics I read and admire. Todd McCarthy is at the top of that list. Because he writes for an industry journal he isn’t known to a wide readership, but his reviews are knowledgeable, balanced, and broad-ranging. He reads fiction and can often compare a film to its source material; he knows the work of most directors and can place a film into a career context. He has a daunting vocabulary, and absorbs so much from one viewing of a picture that I find it humbling…
The world is changing too fast for my taste, and while I’m trying to keep apace, there are some traditions and mainstays I cling to. I look forward to reading Todd again in whatever new home he may choose. But Variety will never be the same, and that’s a loss for the paper and its many avid readers.
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