Evening Standard film critic Alexander Walker dies

LONDON - The Evening Standard's film critic for more than 40 years Alexander Walker has died today at the age of 73.

The prolific critic, who also authored more than 20 books, died at the London Clinic while having tests for cancer.

Walker had become an institution in the world of film and knew many of the stars that he wrote about personally, including the reclusive Stanley Kubrick, Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.

Among the books he had authored were biographers of Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Vivien Leigh.

During the course of his career, he was named Critic of the Year in the British Press Awards three times, most recently in 1998, and in 1981 he was honoured in France with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Part of Walker's appeal to those who liked his writing was his forthright views, which led to rows over controversial films such as David Cronenberg's 'Crash' and Ken Loach's 'Hidden Agenda'. He is also well know for a long-running spat with Ken Russell, who once punched him in full view of TV cameras.

Walker led a campaign to have 'Fight Club' banned, calling it "fascist propaganda" and prior to that had claimed 'Hannibal' was a beautifully shot, accomplished movie to rival 'Silence of the Lambs' and Julianne Moore was even better than Jodie Foster.

Banned at one point from press previews of Cannon Films, he nonetheless earned himself a place as part of the film establishment as a government appointee to the board of the British Film Institute and the British Screen Advisory Council.

According to Sight & Sound magazine, Walker listed his top 10 films as:

1. L'avventura (Antonioni)

2. Citizen Kane (Welles)

3. Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)

4. La Dolce Vita (Fellini)

5. The 400 Blows (Truffaut)

6. The Leopard (Visconti)

7. Some Like It Hot (Wilder)

8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)

9. Taxi Driver (Scorsese)

10. Wild Strawberries (Bergman)

Walker began his career in Birmingham, working on the Gazette and later the Birmingham Post. He joined the Evening Standard in 1960. Walker was born in Portadown in Northern Ireland in 1930 and he graduated from Queen's University, Belfast in political philosophy.

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