Movie Critic: Farber, Manny–Noted Critic Dies at 91

It is with great sadness that I have to report the death the noted film critic and painter Manny Farber, who passed away August 18, 2008 of bone cancer in Leucadia, California. He was 91.

Farber belongs to the influential generation of film critics that also includes James Agee (who died in 1955), Pauline Kael (who died in 2001), and the very much live and well Andrew Sarris, who’s younger; this October he will turn 80.

Farber was known for his original, often contrarian opinions. He was the first to champion the works of tough-guy American directors including Howard Hawks, Don Siegel and Samuel Fuller.

He wrote reviews and essays for the New Republic, the Nation, the New Leader, Film Culture, Film Comment and Artforum.

Farber criticized films by legends like Orson Welles and Hitchcock for being “art-infected,” and often favored more uniquely American genres, such as crime, western and horror films made by directors like Anthony Mann and Raoul Walsh.

When he eventually came to embrace European directors, he favored Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog over Francois Truffaut.

Born in Douglas, Arizona, Farber worked as a carpenter before moving to New York to explore abstract expressionism painting, and simultaneously, film criticism.

In 1970 he began teaching film at University of California, San Diego, from which he retired in 1987.