Rex Reed

Rex Taylor Reed (born October 2, 1938) is an American film critic and former co-host of the syndicated television show At the Movies. He writes the column "On the Town with Rex Reed" for The New York Observer.[1]

Rex Reed
BornRex Taylor Reed
(1938-10-02) October 2, 1938
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
OccupationFilm critic, writer
Alma materLouisiana State University
Years active1967–present

Early life

Reed was born on October 2, 1938, in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Jewell (née Smith) and James M. Reed, an oil company supervisor.[2][3] In an interview with The New York Times, Reed stated: "My mother came from a family of 10 in Oklahoma, her second cousins were the Dalton Gang," he said. "And when my grandfather was a little boy, he was rocked by Jesse James on his knee."[1]

He earned his journalism degree from Louisiana State University in 1960.[4] There, he began writing film and play reviews, not only for the university's newspaper, “The Daily Reveille,” but also for the Baton Rouge Advocate. He moved to New York City after graduating from LSU, hoping to find success as an actor. Instead, he was hired to work at the publicity department of 20th Century Fox. In 1969, he said his job there was to "write those puffy things about Elvis Presley and—you know—Fabian, and tell everybody how great they were when I wouldn't be caught dead seeing their movies myself. [...] Cleopatra came along and rocked the company financially. We were saving on rubber bands and paying Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to float down the Nile while everybody back at Fox was taking salary cuts, and I was the first one to go—the little guy at the $75 salary, the most dispensable item in the company. I was fired."[5] Later in the decade, he provided many interviews for The New York Times and New York, which at the time was the Sunday magazine of the New York Herald Tribune. In 1966, the year in which the Herald Tribune folded, he was hired as the music critic for HiFi/Stereo Review (now Sound & Vision), a position at which he remained until early 1973.


Films and TV appearances

Reed has acted occasionally, such as in the movie version of Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970). Reed also appeared in the films Superman (1978, as himself), Inchon (1981) and Irreconcilable Differences (1984). He appeared frequently as a judge on the TV game show The Gong Show in the late 1970s. Reed additionally served on the jury at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival in 1971,[6] and guest-voiced as himself on the animated series The Critic.

Rex Reed appears in the 2009 documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism explaining how important film critics were in the 1970s, and complaining about the proliferation of unqualified critical voices on the Internet.[7]


Before his current job as film critic for The New York Observer, Reed has been a film critic for Vogue, GQ, The New York Times, and Women's Wear Daily. For thirteen years, he was an arts critic for the New York Daily News, and for five years was the film critic for the New York Post. He is a member of New York Film Critics Circle and, because his reviews appear on the Internet, he is a member of New York Film Critics Online. He is the author of eight books, four of which were best-selling profiles of celebrities: Do You Sleep in the Nude?, Conversations in the Raw, People Are Crazy Here, and Valentines & Vitriol. In the sixties and throughout the seventies, Reed was one of the highest-paid and most in-demand writers of celebrity profiles. His writing style was considered an exemplar of The New Journalism and his profile of the aging Ava Gardner was included and praised in Tom Wolfe's anthology, The New Journalism.

After Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1992 for her work in My Cousin Vinny, Reed said publicly that she had not actually won the award and that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name off of the card he was reading.[8] When it was pointed out that the card only had one name on it, Reed changed his theory to say that Palance had actually read the wrong name off the Teleprompter and claimed that the Academy went along with it because they would have been embarrassed to admit that mistake in front of a huge viewing audience. Reed was publicly rebutted by the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, who said that if a presenter ever announced the wrong winner a PwC representative would go on stage and state that the wrong result had been announced and then either state the correct result himself or give the information to someone on stage to correct it.[9][10] Roger Ebert said that Reed's conspiracy theories were false and unfair to Tomei and that Reed owed her an apology.[11]

In a 2005 review of the South Korean movie Oldboy, Reed wrote:

What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?

The Village Voice, which stated that "online forums erupted in protest" at the review, then mocked Reed by imagining him applying similar logic to films from other countries.[12]

In a 2013 review of Identity Thief, Reed made several references to Melissa McCarthy's weight, referring to her as "tractor-sized", "humongous", "obese", and a "hippo".[13][14] Film critic Richard Roeper said, "This just smacks of mean-spirited name-calling in lieu of genuine criticism."[15] The review was referenced at the 85th Academy Awards on February 24, 2013, by the host, Seth MacFarlane, who joked that Reed would review Adele for singing "Skyfall" at the ceremony.[16] In a column for The Huffington Post, Candy Spelling likened Reed's review to bullying.[17] Reed stood by his comments and stated his objection to the use of serious health issue such as obesity as comedy talking points. He dismissed the outrage as being orchestrated for publicity, but praised McCarthy for not getting involved in the matter, calling her "completely classy".[18]

In 2016, Reed published a review of The Whole Truth in which he obsesses over star Renee Zellweger’s face.[19] He wrote

Once vibrant and appealingly quirky, she disappeared from the screen for a prolonged rest, and re-emerged with an altered appearance so shocking that she could pass for someone on her way to a Halloween ball wearing a badly made Renée Zellweger mask.

In the same review, he also mocked actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s name, calling her:

A lovely actress who has simply got to do something about a name change.

In a 2017 review of The Shape of Water, he referred to people with disabilities as "defective creatures" and Sally Hawkins' mute character as "mentally handicapped".[20]

Supposed factual errors in reviews

Reed's 2012 review for The Cabin in the Woods[21] contained significant factual inaccuracies in his summary of the film, and exhibited a dismissive attitude towards anyone who disagreed with his negative opinion. The L Magazine's Henry Stewart noted: "his review is literally about 50 percent inaccurate—factually, objectively wrong." His professionalism was also called into question when, in addition to the factual inaccuracies, many felt he was needlessly insulting and mean-spirited towards those who enjoyed the film.[22][23]

In 2013, Reed reviewed V/H/S/2, despite walking out of the film within its first 20 minutes.[24][25] As a result, his review was brief and incorrectly summarized Jason Eisener's segment of the horror anthology. Many felt that Reed was unprofessional, with journalist Sam Adams stating that Reed was "making a mockery of a noble profession while intelligent critics scramble for crumbs all around him".[26][27]

In 2017, Reed's review of The Shape of Water, mistook the film's writer and director Guillermo del Toro for actor Benicio del Toro (the two are not related; he also misspelled Benicio as Benecio).[28]Reed's review was criticized and ridiculed for referring to Hawkins's mute character as "mentally handicapped" and for erroneously crediting actor Benicio del Toro as the film's director.[29] Reed also described Guillermo del Toro's native country as Spain, despite him coming from Mexico, and Benicio del Toro coming from Puerto Rico.[28]

Personal life

Reed lives in a two-bedroom apartment at The Dakota apartment building in New York City,[30] which he bought for $30,000 in 1969.[1]

In 2018, Reed stated:

Love is not something that I’ve been really good at. I think people are intimidated by people with opinions. How do you go start looking for a wife or a boyfriend or a significant other? It’s too late. It would be nice, though, to find somebody who’s really handy with a wheelchair, because that day is coming.[1]

Shoplifting arrest and clearing

In February 2000, Reed was arrested for shoplifting after leaving a Tower Records in Manhattan with compact discs by Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, and Carmen McRae in his jacket pockets. Reed, who had just purchased two other CDs, says he forgot about the other three CDs and his offer to pay for them was refused. The charges were later dropped.[31] According to Reed, several days after the arrest Peggy Lee sent him her entire catalog of CDs, because "she was so thrilled I wanted one of her CDs enough to put myself through so much hell".[32]


  • Reed, Rex (1968). Do You Sleep In The Nude?. London: Allen. ISBN 0-491-00043-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1969). Conversations In The Raw. New York: World. ISBN 0-491-00043-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1974). People Are Crazy Here. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-440-07365-0.
  • Reed, Rex (1977). Valentines & Vitriol. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-440-09336-8.
  • Reed, Rex (1986). Personal Effects. New York: Jove Books. ISBN 0-441-66220-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1992). Rex Reed's Guide to Movies on TV and Video, 1992-1993. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-36206-9.


  1. Williams, Alex (January 10, 2018). "Rex Reed Bangs a Gong on the Mediocrity of Modern Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2018. (registration required)
  2. "Rex Reed Biography (1938-)". 1938-10-02. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  3. "Rex Reed". Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006
  4. "Rex Reed". New York Critics Film Circle.
  6. "Berlinale 1971: Juries". Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  7. "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  8. PRACHI GUPTA (8 February 2013). "Rex Reed: A career of offensiveness". Salon.
  9. Young, Josh (March 6, 2002). "Return Tomei". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  10. "FACT CHECK: Was Marisa Tomei Awarded an Oscar by Mistake?". 17 January 2000.
  11. Ebert, Roger (March 6, 2008). "The Questions That Will Not Die | Movie Answer Man".
  12. Park, Ed; Lim, Dennis (April 19, 2005). "Rex is Comedy". The Village Voice.
  13. Reed, Rex. "Declined: In Identity Thief, Bateman's Bankable Billing Can't Lift This Flick out of the Red". New York Observer. New York City: Observer Media. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  14. "Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'tractor-sized', 'hippo' in review of new film". Today. February 7, 2013.
  15. "Melissa McCarthy Identity Thief Review Is "Mean-Spirited," Says Film Critic Richard Roeper". Us Weekly. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  16. Grant, Drew (February 25, 2013). "Rex Reed Got a Shout-Out in Last Night's Oscar Telecast". New York Observer. New York City: Observer Media. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  17. Spelling, Candy (February 19, 2013). "15 Minutes of Fame". The Huffington Post. New York City: Huffington Post Media Group.
  18. Seth Abramovitch (2013-02-13). "Rex Reed Defends Melissa McCarthy Remarks: 'Don't Make Me the Villain'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  19. "Rex Reed 'The Whole Truth' Review'". The New York Observer. October 19, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  20. "Review: Sally Hawkins Sinks in del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' - Obse…". 20 December 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017.
  21. "The Cabin in the Woods Is a Pixelated Nightmare".
  22. Henry Stewart (2012-04-12). "How I lost my Respect for Rex Reed". The L Magazine.
  23. FRED BETZNER (July 6, 2012). "Unprofessional Inaccuracies in Rex Reed's Review of Cabin in the Woods". Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
  24. "Rex Reed 'V/H/S 2' Review: Controversial Critic Slams Movie He Didn't Finish". The Huffington Post. July 10, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  25. Sean O'Neal (2013-07-10). "Rex Reed reviews movie he only watched for 20 minutes, presumably just before shoving head up ass". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  26. Steve Barton (July 10, 2013). "Rex Reed, V/H/S/2, and Journalism 101 - Dread Central". Dread Central. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  27. Adams, Sam (July 10, 2013). "Rex Reed Still World's Worst Film Critic". Indiewire.
  28. Vivian Kane (December 20, 2017). "No Really, How Does Film Critic/Human Disaster Rex Reed Still Have a Job?". The Mary Sue.
  29. Sharf, Zack (December 20, 2017). "Rex Reed's Negative 'The Shape of Water' Review Goes Viral After Crediting Benicio del Toro as Director". IndieWire. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  30. Tribune Media Services via Buffalo News, June 9, 2006
  31. "Rex Reed blames his arrest on fever of forgetfulness", USA Today, February 17, 2000
  32. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 26, 2000
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