Film studies professor and critic dies

York Professor Emeritus Robert Paul “Robin” Wood, a senior scholar in York’s Graduate Program in Film as well as a film critic, died from complications resulting from leukemia Dec. 18. He was 78.

Born in England, Prof. Wood was a leading film scholar and critic whose work brought recognition and direction to film studies, elevating it to something worthy of scholarly consideration. After earning a degree from Jesus College at the University of Cambridge in 1953, followed by a teaching diploma, he went on to teach English in Britain and France.

He joined York’s Department of Film in 1977 and taught film studies until his retirement in 1990. He was chair of the University’s film program for several years, and with students and colleagues created York’s CineAction Collective. The collective, along with Prof. Wood, started the film studies journal CineAction, published three times a year and featuring essays and reviews by film critics and scholars. He was the journal’s contributing editor.

Before joining the University, he taught in the newly created film studies program at Queen’s University in Kingston for several years beginning in 1969, then returned to the United Kingdom to help start a film studies program at the University of Warwick in 1973.

His first film critique, written about the movie Psycho, was accepted for publication in the French journal Cahiers du Cinéma, which then led to the publication of several articles for British publications, including the magazine Movie in 1962.

Over time he became one of Britain’s most influential writers on film. Prof. Wood was the first to write seriously about Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock’s Films (1965). Several more books followed, including Howard Hawks (1968), Ingmar Bergman (1969), Personal Views: Explorations in Film (1976), Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (1986), Sexual Politics and Narrative Film: Hollywood and Beyond (1998) and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan…and Beyond (2003).

His work tackled everything from classical Hollywood cinema to contemporary concerns and the sexual politics of cinema. In 2002, he returned to Hitchcock, with Hitchcock’s Films Revisited.

Wood is survived by his three children, Simon of Toronto, Carin of Bath, England, and Fiona of Bordeaux, France, as well as five grandchildren and his longtime partner Richard Lippe.