Richard Schickel, the prolific critic best known for his 38-year tenure as a film reviewer at Time magazine, died on Saturday. In addition to authoring more than three dozen books and biographies about directors, stars, and musicians, Schickel directed countless documentaries for TV. He was 84.
Raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, Schickel attended the University Of Wisconsin–Madison on a journalism scholarship before moving to Los Angeles in his early 20s. In 1964, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the next year began writing reviews for the weekly magazine Life. After Life folded in 1972, Schickel moved to Time, where he remained until 2010. His long career as a weekly film reviewer ended with a brief stint with the website Truthdig.
Despite his longtime association with one of this county’s most famous magazines, Schickel was arguably better known for the work he did outside the review beat, including the documentaries on filmmakers and special effects that he wrote and directed for PBS and other networks, and his popular books on the likes of Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan, Clint Eastwood, and Walt Disney. His 1984 biography D.W. Griffith: An American Life was widely acclaimed in its time.
A devotee of both Hollywood’s classic studio era and the maverick directors of the 1970s, Schickel positioned himself as someone who was as much a chronicler as a critic. In 2004, he supervised the posthumous restoration of Samuel Fuller’s ambitious World War II film The Big Red One.