Philip French to retire at 80

It's been announced that 'Observer' film critic Philip French will be retiring from writing in August, following his 80th birthday.

French, a legendary critic and familiar face at screening rooms has announced his retirement in an interview with 'The Observer', the paper he joined in 1963.

He says in the interview: "… I am giving up now, while I still have my mind."

Rated by an American film journal as Britain's "greatest living movie analyst", French was awarded the OBE for his services to journalism this January.

He's always maintained that the first duty of a critic was to be as honest as possible about the movies reviewed:  "From time to time you may pull your punches, but not in the next round," he says. "You have to be truthful."

French's illustrious career includes other highlights such as serving on the Cannes film festival jury in 1983, and meeting one of his heroes, Charlie Chaplin, at a screening of the star's own film 'The Tramp' in the '70s.

On meeting Chaplin he says: "He had a mask-like face, I remember, but it was quite extraordinary to sit behind him and watch his younger self on the screen."

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And while the industry will undoubtedly be poorer for losing French he still retains his enthusiasm for film as an art form.

"Cinema was the great art form of the 20th century and this century is continuing the same way."

Philip will be speaking about his career next month at the Bristol Festival of Ideas.

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