Daily Archives: February 12, 2006

Tom Milne, 1926—2005

An obituary, written in February 2006 for Sight and Sound. — J.R.

Film history has always been at the mercy of technology and markets, yielding the brutal shifts from silent to sound pictures and from black and white to colour, as well as the reconfigurations of films on television. More recently, digital video and the Internet have ushered in a confusing transitional period that we’re still in the middle of, recasting our canons of films and film critics alike according to what’s available.

Improbably, most of Carl Dreyer’s major films —- which until recently were almost impossible to see anywhere in decent prints —- are now available in pristine form to anyone on the planet with a multiregional DVD player. Yet those of James Whale that don’t qualify as horror, including such 30s masterpieces as Remember Last Night?, Show Boat, and The Great Garrick, remain firmly out of reach. And the warm, mischievous, shy yet gruff, and dedicated critic who introduced me to all this and much else — Tom Milne, who died in Aberdeen last December — is barely known today because little of his prose has made it onto the Internet.

For those with backlogs of Monthly Film Bulletin and Sight and Sound from the 60s through the 80s, it’s hard to think of other London-based film writers during that stretch who wrote more cogently and passionately about film.… Read more »