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Village Voice film critic Andrew Sarris, 83

Andrew Sarris, a leading movie critic during a golden age for reviewers who popularized the French reverence for directors and inspired debate about countless films and filmmakers, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Sarris died at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan after complications developed from a stomach virus, according to his wife, film critic Molly Haskell.

Sarris was best known for his work with the Village Voice, which he joined in 1960.

His opinions were especially vital during the 1960s and 1970s, when movies became films, or even cinema, and critics and fans argued about them the way they once might have contended over paintings or novels.

Audiences discovered foreign directors such as Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman and welcomed new Hollywood favorites such as Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese.

"Andrew Sarris was a vital figure in teaching America to respond to foreign films as well as American movies," fellow critic David Thomson said. "As writer, teacher, friend and husband he was an essential. History has gone."

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