Last month, I felt honoured when the BFI website asked me to select a female film critic as part of a piece they were running to mark International Women’s Day. I was pleased to be able at last to tip my hat to the great Marjorie Bilbow, whose reviews for Screen International had made a big impression on me in the early 1980s, when I was first starting out in journalism – not least because I don’t feel she has ever been properly appreciated. She was never a critics’ darling, like Pauline Kael, and since much of her work was for a trade journal and was published before the age of the internet, her “digital footprint” today is minimal.
Indeed I had the devil of a time trying to track down anything she had written. It was only thanks to diligent detective work by Isabel Stevens at the BFI that I finally managed to get hold of her 1982 review of Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, part of which is reproduced in the finished piece.
I felt even more honoured, of course, when I learnt that I too had been included as one of the 25 female film critics, with a lovely write-up by Jane Giles, legendary former programme manager of the Scala cinema and no mean film writer herself – please click on the pic below to be taken to her excellent review of Fifty Shades of Grey. “Like Cinderella, Bluebeard, Pygmalion or Twilight, it is a romantic fantasy and a fairytale…”
It occurred to me, belatedly, I should mention this here, since people are always writing things like “Anne Billson – who’s she?” and “No, I’ve never heard of her either” and “What’s she ever done, anyway?” and it might be that you have stumbled across this blog without having previously glimpsed my byline anywhere. So, please click on the pic above to be taken to the BFI website, where you can read all about me, but – more importantly – about Marjorie Bilbow. I’m not sure I’m worthy to be included in her company, or in that of Dilys Powell, Penelope Houston, C.A. Lejeune et al, but I can’t say it isn’t a thrill.