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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Film critic Walker dies
Alexander Walker
Walker was the Standard's film critic for 43 years
One of the UK's most respected film reviewers, Alexander Walker, has died aged 73.

A prolific writer, who had written for the London Evening Standard for the past 40 years, Walker was one of the most influential cinema writers of his age.

He fell ill earlier this summer, and died at the London Clinic while having tests for cancer, the newspaper said.

Walker was famous for his outspoken opinions on film - and once had a famous row with director Ken Russell, who hit him in front of TV cameras.

As well as his long-running column in the Evening Standard, he was a prolific author who wrote more than 20 books, including biographies on Montgomery Clift, Vivien Leigh and Stanley Kubrick.

Walker's favourite films
A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Citizen Kane
Dr Strangelove
La Dolce Vita
The 400 Blows
The Leopard
Some Like it Hot
2001: A Space Odyssey (pictured)
Taxi Driver
Wild Strawberries
Source: Sight & Sound

The paper reported that he once said of his appraisals of thousands of movies: "I never make snap judgements. I let it stew."

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell was one of the first to praise Walker's career.

"Alexander Walker's knowledge and understanding of the language of cinema was unparalleled," she said.

"He demonstrated his love for film in many ways, including his role as a former governor of the British Film Institute, his contribution to public debate, and of course, his years of service as a leading and influential film critic.

"His passion and commitment to film will be greatly missed," she said.

Standard editor Veronica Wadley also paid her respects.

"I first met Alex 20 years ago when I asked him to interview Princess Grace in the south of France for a magazine article. He wrote a dazzling piece and I have been a friend and admirer ever since," she told BBC News Online.

"Alex was recognised as the most brilliant and influential film critic of his age. He was a fearless champion of cinema, renowned for his independence. He will be sorely missed by the stars and the movie industry," said the paper's publisher, Lord Rothermere.

'Passionate about film'

He was a champion for quality cinema in this country
Anthony Minghella
British Film Institute chairman Anthony Minghella also paid tribute to Walker.

"Alexander Walker's contribution to the appreciation and understanding of British film was unique," the director said.

"He was passionate about film and that love affair with cinema was clear in everything he wrote.

"He was much more than a film critic. He was a champion for quality cinema in this country. As a broadcaster, commentator and film historian he had no equal.

"The London film world and British cinema are a smaller and less colourful place without him."

UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward told BBC News Online: "Alexander Walker was often at odds with the UK film industry and always spoke his mind, but he will be remembered as one of Britain's shrewdest film critics who devoted his life to films."

He joined the Standard in 1960, serving as its film reviewer for 43 years, a period unlikely to be equalled.

Obituary: Alexander Walker
15 Jul 03  |  Entertainment

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