32 Facts About Pauline Kael


Pauline Kael was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1991.


Roger Ebert argued in an obituary that Pauline Kael "had a more positive influence on the climate for film in America than any other single person over the last three decades".


Pauline Kael reinvented the form, and pioneered an entire aesthetic of writing.


Pauline Kael's parents lost their farm when Kael was eight, and the family moved to San Francisco.


Pauline Kael had intended to go on to law school, but fell in with a group of artists and moved to New York City with the poet Robert Horan.


Three years later, Pauline Kael returned to Berkeley and "led a bohemian life," writing plays, and working in experimental film.


In 1952, Peter D Martin, the editor of City Lights magazine overheard Kael arguing about films in a coffeeshop with a friend and asked her to review Charlie Chaplin's Limelight.


Pauline Kael dubbed the film "Slimelight" and began publishing film criticism regularly in magazines.


Pauline Kael continued to juggle writing with other work until she received an offer to publish a book of her criticism.


In October 1967, Pauline Kael wrote a lengthy essay on Bonnie and Clyde, which the magazine declined to publish.


In 1970, Pauline Kael received a George Polk Award for her work as a critic at the New Yorker.


Pauline Kael continued to publish collections of her writing with suggestive titles such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, When the Lights Go Down, and Taking It All In.


Pauline Kael wrote philosophical essays on movie-going, the modern Hollywood film industry, and what she perceived as the lack of courage on the part of audiences to explore lesser-known, more challenging movies.


Pauline Kael further alleged that Orson Welles had actively schemed to deprive Mankiewicz of screen credit.


Pauline Kael was defended by critics, scholars and friends, including Peter Bogdanovich, who rebutted Kael's claims in a 1972 article that included the revelation that Kael had appropriated the extensive research of a UCLA faculty member and did not credit him.


Pauline Kael has great passion, terrific wit, wonderful writing style, huge knowledge of film history, but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising.


Pauline Kael battled the editors of the New Yorker as much as her own critics.


Pauline Kael fought with William Shawn to review the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, though she eventually relented.


In 1979, Pauline Kael accepted an offer from Warren Beatty to be a consultant to Paramount Pictures, but left the position after only a few months to return to writing criticism.


Pauline Kael's reviews included a panning of West Side Story that drew harsh replies from the film's supporters; ecstatic reviews of Z and MASH that resulted in enormous boosts to those films' popularity; and enthusiastic appraisals of Brian De Palma's early films.


Pauline Kael was an opponent of the auteur theory, criticizing it both in her reviews and in interviews.


Pauline Kael preferred to analyze films without thinking about the director's other works.


Pauline Kael argued that a film should be considered a collaborative effort.


Pauline Kael had a strong dislike for films that she felt were manipulative or appealed in superficial ways to conventional attitudes and feelings.


Pauline Kael was particularly critical towards Clint Eastwood: her reviews of his films and acting, even if generally well-favored, were resoundingly negative.


Pauline Kael was an enthusiastic, if occasionally ambivalent, supporter of Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill's early work, both of whom specialized in violent action dramas.


However, Pauline Kael responded negatively to some action films that she felt pushed what she described as "right wing" or "fascist" agendas.


Alternately, Pauline Kael was said to have had the power to prevent filmmakers from working; David Lean said that her criticism of his work "kept him from making a movie for 14 years".


Pauline Kael had often reviewed Lucas's work without enthusiasm; in her own review of Willow, she described the character as an "hommage a moi".


Pauline Kael later wrote to Kael, commenting: "[Y]our thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that".


Pauline Kael's career is discussed at length in the documentary For the Love of Movies by critics whose careers she helped shape, such as Owen Gleiberman and Elvis Mitchell, as well as by those who fought with her, such as Andrew Sarris.


Rob Garver's documentary What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael was released in 2018.