Molly Haskell Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Molly Haskell is a leading feminist film critic who explores the changing roles of women in film. She was born September 29, 1939, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Mary Clark Haskell, a painter, and John Haskell, a mortgage broker. Although she wanted to attend Smith College, her parents sent her to Sweet Briar, a fashionable women’s college in Virginia. There she majored in English, made Phi Beta Kappa, and wrote a great deal. After graduation, she studied at the Sorbonne, sharpening her French skills and attending films at the Cinematheque. She then moved to New York, where, after serving a short stint as a public relations associate with Sperry Rand, she became a publicist for the French Film Office: She did some interpreting and put out a newsletter, which essentially began her career in film criticism.

While she was at the French Film Office in the late 1960’s, she met Andrew Sarris, an established film critic with The Village Voice and the American proponent of the auteur theory. He helped her get her first assignment as a theater critic (as a college student she had been interested in theater and once aspired to be an actress); she reviewed Broadway productions while the more experienced drama critics were covering the more experimental theater produced Off-Broadway. When Sarris expanded the film coverage of The Village Voice, she moved to film criticism. Haskell and Sarris married in 1969.

As a film critic, Haskell has been concerned with the progressively worsening image of women in the cinema. Her first book, From Reverence to Rape, is a historical account of women’s roles as portrayed by actresses from Lillian Gish to the 1970’s. (The focus is on American films, but...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Haskell, Molly. “Molly Haskell: Her Husband’s Near-Fatal Disease Prompted an Affirmative Book About Illness and Identity.” Interview by Susan Mernit. Publishers Weekly, April 20, 1990, 55-56. Focuses on the events surrounding Sarris’s illness.

Haskell, Molly. “A Separate Peace.” Interview by James Ellison. American Health 9 (May, 1990). Another interview conducted upon the publication of Love and Other Infectious Diseases.

Holdstein, Deborah H. “Men and Women: Voices in the Women’s Picture.” In Holding the Vision: Essays on Film, edited by Douglas Radcliff-Umstead. Kent, Ohio: International Film Society, Kent State University, 1983. Presents the proceedings of the First Annual Film Conference of Kent State University on April 21, 1983. Holdstein applies Haskell’s theories to the films Mildred Pierce (1945) and All About Eve (1950).

Kay, Karyn, and Gerald Peary, eds. Women and the Cinema: A Critical Anthology. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977. Includes two essays by Haskell and a number of other scholarly works in a similar vein.