Fond farewell to our fearless movie reviewer

Dougal Macdonald… reviewing films since 1967. Photograph: Belinda Strahorn

“CityNews” editor IAN MEIKLE salutes the work of veteran movie reviewer Dougal Macdonald as he retires from the paper…

AFTER 57 years sitting by means of the nice, the unhealthy and the ugly, and writing hundreds upon hundreds of film evaluations over greater than half a century, Dougal Macdonald has reviewed his closing reel. 

Macdonald would possibly very properly be Australia’s oldest, most-experienced movie reviewer and “CityNews” couldn’t be prouder of him, however at 88, the Bungendore native has determined to maintain his sharp-witted observations of the silver display screen to himself and retire from reviewing after 57 years. 

“The primary movie I reviewed was in 1965 and right here I’m,” Macdonald instructed “CityNews” in a celebratory profile in October. 

“My mom took me to see ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ within the early Forties and that’s the place it began,” he says.

“The primary movie I reviewed had Gina Lollobrigida, Sean Connery and Ralph Richardson in a thriller referred to as ‘Lady of Straw’.”

In that piece I stated: “He’s a masterful wordsmith and writes with the adjectival ardour of a 30-year-old – he’s naughty and nuanced, and has this fixed, cheeky marketing campaign to plot a context that may beat me into permitting him to make use of, shall we embrace, colloquialisms that may make an editor blush. 

“And don’t get him happening why he’s not a critic…” 

Too late: Macdonald stated: “A critic analyses, a reviewer describes. My life in reviewing has been sitting in a cinema then serving to readers to make their go or no-go selections about what to see.”

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Veteran cinema identification Andrew Pike agrees. He was operating the Electrical Shadows cinema centre and “it was very clear to us that Dougal had a big impact on our audiences”.

“Dougal grew to become a pal and was all the time welcome on the cinema, although we by no means mentioned enterprise or tried to affect his opinions, nor did we obtain any favours. We might nonetheless need to climate the storm when a unfavorable or ambivalent overview got here out,” Pike stated.

“One of many key elements in kick-starting my profession within the trade was Dougal’s overview of an obscure French comedy referred to as ‘Celine and Julie Go Boating’ (1974), which ran for a frightening three and 1 / 4 hours, with out an interval. 

“At the moment, Geoff Gardner and I often employed The Playhouse theatre in Civic to indicate movies there: an costly and dangerous train. 

“We have been very nervous about displaying ‘Celine and Julie Go Boating’ and the advance gross sales have been appalling. 

“Then Dougal’s glowing overview appeared and we ran the remainder of the season to full homes. I didn’t know Dougal at that stage, however felt huge gratitude for the passion of his overview. It was a pivotal second in my profession.

“Dougal all the time impressed me (and clearly our cinema audiences, too) together with his frank, trustworthy and really readable evaluations. He was – and stays – a uncommon determine within the movie reviewing fraternity.”

“CityNews” arts editor Helen Musa stated: “I’ve labored with Dougal for a really very long time, and have all the time admired his capability to seize in phrases precisely what he considered a movie. There’s an rising tendency in reviewing to shrink back from frank feedback, however he by no means did that.

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“As an alternative, clearly and eloquently, he stated what he thought.”

Our pages are already a bit emptier by his absence and I’m positive the paper, the web site and the broader neighborhood will be part of me in thanking pricey Dougal for his lovely phrases. It’s been a privilege to publish them.


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Ian Meikle, editor