Stanley Kauffmann

Stanley Kauffmann (April 24, 1916 – October 9, 2013) was an American author, editor, and critic of film and theater.[1]

Stanley Kauffmann
Born(1916-04-24)April 24, 1916
New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 9, 2013(2013-10-09) (aged 97)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationCritic, editor, writer, educator
Laura Cohen
(m. 1943; died 2012)


Kauffmann started with The New Republic in 1958 and contributed film criticism to that magazine for the next fifty-five years, publishing his last review in 2013.[2][3] He had one brief break in his New Republic tenure,[4] when he served as the drama critic for the New York Times for eight months in 1966.[5]

He worked as an acquisitions editor at Ballantine Books in 1953, where he acquired the novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.[6] Several years later, while working as an editor at Alfred A. Knopf in 1959 he discovered a manuscript by Walker Percy, The Moviegoer. Following a year of rewrites and revisions, the novel was published in 1961, and went on to win a National Book Award in 1962.[7]

Stanley electrified educated people with the news that movies had become one of the high arts again, and that there were contemporary works—by Bergman, Truffaut, Antonioni, and many other directors—the equal of the masterpieces of the silent era.

David Denby, "Stanley Kauffmann Tribute: 'A Masterpiece Every Week!'", The New Republic, October 9, 2013

Kauffmann was a long-time advocate and enthusiast of foreign film, helping to introduce and popularize in America the works of directors such as Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Yasujirō Ozu.[8] He inspired and influenced younger film and cultural critics such as Roger Ebert[3] and David Denby.[8]

Kauffmann was also a professor of English, Drama, and Film at City University of New York (1973–76) and taught at the Yale School of Drama.[9]

Kauffmann was featured in the 2009 documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism where he was shown discussing the beginnings of film criticism in America, and noting the important contributions of poet Vachel Lindsay, who grasped that "the arrival of film was an important moment in the history of human consciousness".[10]

Kauffmann is noted for his opinions on otherwise critically acclaimed movies, having given negative reviews for Star Wars: A New Hope, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Million Dollar Baby, Gone with the Wind, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, films that were heavily praised by other notable critics.

Personal life

Kauffmann attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and New York University where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1935 and was an actor and stage manager with the Washington Square Players. Kauffmann married Laura Cohen in 1943, and they remained together until Cohen's death in 2013. They did not have children. Kauffmann died of pneumonia at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan on October 9, 2013, aged 97.[11]

Books on criticism

  • Regarding Film: Criticism and Comment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (2001).
  • Distinguishing Features: Film Criticism and Comment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (1994).
  • Field of View: Film Criticism and Comment. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications (1986).
  • Theater Criticisms. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications (1986).
  • Albums of Early Life. New Haven: Ticknor & Fields (1980).
  • Before My Eyes: Film Criticism and Comment. New York: Harper & Row (1980).
  • Persons of the Drama: Theater Criticism and Comment. New York: Harper & Row (1976).
  • Living Images: Film Comment and Criticism. New York: Harper & Row (1975).
  • American Film Criticism: From the Beginnings to "Citizen Kane"; Reviews of Significant Films at the Time They First Appeared [Editor, with Bruce Henstell]. New York: Liveright (1972).
  • Figures of Light: Film Criticism and Comment. New York: Harper & Row (1971).
  • A World on Film: Criticism and Comment. New York: Harper & Row (1966).


  1. Zeitchik, Steven. "Stanley Kauffmann dies: Film critic helped define a generation". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  2. Kauffmann The New Republic
  3. Esther Zuckerman (October 9, 2013). "Critics and Colleagues Remember Stanley Kauffmann". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  4. Jeremy McCarter (September 2, 2010). "Oldest Living Cultural Critic Tells All". Newsweek. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  5. Bert Cardullo (Fall 2002). "Interview with Stanley Kauffmann". The Missouri Review. Archived from the original on 2013-06-29. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  6. Film Critic Stanley Kauffmann Dead at 97, ABC News, October 9, 2013.
  7. Moore, H., Walker Percy's The Moviegoer: A Publishing History, The Library Chronicle of the University of Texas. vol 22, Nos. 1-4, 1991-92, pp. 123-43
  8. James Wolcott; David Denby; David Thompson (October 9, 2013). "A Tribute: Stanley Kauffmann, 1916-2013". The New Republic. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. "Stanley Kauffmann". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  10. For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, TCM Movie Database
  11. Grimes, William (2013-10-09). "Stanley Kauffmann, Erudite Film Critic, Dies at 97". The New York Times. NY Times. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
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