Vincent Canby

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Vincent Canby
Born (1924-07-27)July 27, 1924
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died October 15, 2000(2000-10-15) (aged 76)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Occupation Critic, writer

Vincent Canby (July 27, 1924 – October 15, 2000) was an American film and theatre critic who served as the chief film critic for The New York Times from 1969 until the early 1990s, then its chief theatre critic from 1994 to 2000. He reviewed more than 1000 films during his tenure there.[1]

Life and career

Canby was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Katharine Anne (née Vincent) and Lloyd Canby.[2] He attended boarding school in Christchurch, Virginia, with novelist William Styron; and the two became friends. He introduced Styron to the works of E.B. White and Ernest Hemingway; and the pair hitchhiked to Richmond to buy For Whom the Bell Tolls.[3] After war service in the Pacific theater, he attended Dartmouth College and then was employed as a film critic by Variety for six years.[4]

Canby was an enthusiastic supporter of many filmmakers, notably Woody Allen, who credited Canby's rave review of Take The Money and Run as a crucial point in his career.[5] He was also heavily critical of some otherwise acclaimed films, such as Rocky, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Night of the Living Dead, After Hours, Blazing Saddles, A Christmas Story, Witness, Mask, The Natural, Rain Man, The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,[6] Deliverance, The Godfather Part II and Alien.

In the early 1990s, Canby switched his attention from film to theatre; he was named the chief theatre critic in 1994.[4]

The career of Vincent Canby is discussed in the film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism by contemporary critics such as The Nations Stuart Klawans, who talks of Canby’s influence for a quarter century as America’s most prominent "make-or-break" critic, and A.O. Scott, who praises his New York Times predecessor for "always finding the right tone" in his reviews.

Canby never married but was, for many years, the companion of Penelope Gilliatt.[7] He died from cancer in Manhattan, New York City, on October 15, 2000.[7] Almost three years later, upon the death of Bob Hope, the late Canby's byline appeared on the front page of The New York Times. Canby had written the bulk of Hope's obituary for the newspaper several years before.[8]


  1. Canby, Vincent. "Vincent Canby Reviews – Best Movie Reviews – Movies – New York Times". Retrieved 2010-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Vincent Canby Biography (1924–2000)". Retrieved 2010-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Carvajal, Doreen (November 11, 2000). "Recalling the Civilized Voice Of a Critic, Vincent Canby". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Vincent Canby, Prolific Film and Theater Critic for The Times, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. October 16, 2000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Take the Money and Run (1969)", New York Times review by Vincent Canby, August 19, 1969.
  6. Anderson, John. "Movie Reviews, Showtimes and Trailers – Movies – New York Times – The New York Times". Retrieved 2010-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Malcolm, Derek (October 17, 2000). "Obituary: Vincent Canby". The Guardian. London. Retrieved October 15, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Bob Hope, Comedic Master and Entertainer of Troops, Dies at 100". The New York Times. July 28, 2003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links