Entertainment & Arts

Observer film critic Philip French dies at 82

Philip French Image copyright Ben A. Pruchnie
Image caption French retired from the paper in 2013

Philip French, the Observer's film critic for 50 years has died at the age of 82, the newspaper has confirmed.

His family said he had suffered a heart attack on Tuesday, after several years of ill health.

During his five decades as a critic, French watched more than 2,500 movies, published several books and received an OBE for his services to film in 2013.

He is survived by his wife, Kersti, three sons and 10 grandchildren.

French was named the British Press Awards Critic of the Year in 2009.

In a 2013 Guardian Q&A session marking his retirement, he was asked what was the best film he had never seen, to which he replied: "For a long time, the best film I'd never seen was Citizen Kane.

"It opened in the Liverpool suburb where I grew up and closed after three days.

"It wasn't until I was 21 that I saw it.

"I was absolutely not disappointed. When I saw it I'd been looking forward to it for about 14 years."

He also admitted that his greatest cinematic guilty pleasure was The Sound of Music.

He was replaced at the Observer by Mark Kermode, who also reviews films for the BBC.

Kermode tweeted: "V sad news," adding, "Philip French was simply the finest film critic in the world. His writing and insight are unsurpassed."

Speaking to the Guardian, French's son Sean said: "He was extremely moral about his work.

"He didn't see it in any frivolous way.

"One of the most shocking things to him was the idea of leaving a screening before the credits had rolled.

"It was one of the worst signs of decadence."

French's son Patrick said his father would be "very happy to be remembered as a film critic".

He added: "He thought it was useful.

"Right up to day he died, he did what he loved."

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