This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for June 19, 2017: Yellow Lab Outside the Coffee Shop

June 19, 2017: birthday: Pauline Kael

It’s the birthday of film critic Pauline Kael (books by this author), born in Petaluma, California (1919). After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, she tried her hand — unsuccessfully —at filmmaking and playwriting. She published her first movie review in 1953 for a small San Francisco magazine called City Lights. The review was of Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight, which she dubbed “Slimelight.” For the next 13 years, she wrote reviews for a variety of publications while managing an art-film theater in Berkeley. In 1965, she published a collection of her reviews called I Lost It at the Movies. In 1966, she was writing reviews for McCall’s magazine, but was fired when she panned The Sound of Music. Two years later, she began writing for The New Yorker, where she stayed until her retirement in 1991. She caused another stir with her 1972 review of Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Last Tango in Paris, which she deemed the most important movie she had ever reviewed. Her witty and opinionated reviews were featured in several more collections, including Going Steady (1970), When the Lights Go Down (1980), 5001 Nights at the Movies (1982), and Movie Love (1991).