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People Only Die of Love in Movies
Film Writing by Jim Ridley

Author(s): Jim Ridley

Editor(s): Steve Haruch

Combining a cineaste's encyclopedic knowledge of film with a child's sense of wonder, Jim Ridley wrote about movies in a way few others can.

He reveled in the joy and mischief of cinema, dwelled on its beauty and violence, and navigated the full breadth of its mythology with clarity and enduring curiosity that earned him the respect of critics around the country. At the time of his unexpected death in 2016, Ridley was editor-in-chief of the alt-weekly Nashville Scene, the paper where his incisive, wide-ranging film reviews won him a devoted readership beginning in 1989.

People Only Die of Love in Movies takes its title from a line in the 1964 movie musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the subject of one of Ridley's best-known pieces, included in this volume. In all, the anthology collects nearly one hundred of Ridley's film reviews, essays, and journalistic works, expertly organized by editor Steve Haruch into writing by film genre (e.g., Westerns, the Nouvelle Vague), cinematic theme (e.g., heroes, sexuality), and writing style (e.g., negative reviews, narrative journalism) to demonstrate Ridley's range.

People Only Die of Love in Movies invites its readers to revisit favorite films, discover new loves, and immerse themselves in the unparalleled writing of a discerning and knowledgeable critic.

Biography of Author(s)

Jim Ridley was a writer and editor at the Nashville Scene for more than twenty-five years, its resident film critic, and most recently the paper's top editor. Under his editorship, the Scene won forty awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, averaging better than five per year. Ridley took home first place in arts criticism twice himself. He also contributed to other publications such as the Village Voice, the Criterion Collection, and Cinema Scope. As a champion of arts cinema, Ridley's advocacy helped save the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville from closure in the early years of the new millennium.

Biography of Editor(s)

Steve Haruch is a writer, editor, and filmmaker based in Nashville. His work has appeared in the Nashville Scene, the New York Times, NPR's Code Switch, the Guardian, and elsewhere. He is currently producing a documentary film about the history of college radio.


  • "A moving tribute to a great American film critic, this collection brings together an exhilarating array of the best of Jim Ridley's writing, carving out clever pathways to guide readers through his far-ranging yet always very personal cinephilia—and through film history itself—and to paint a vivid picture of this beloved Nashvillian. The loss of Ridley's big-hearted and stylish voice left a giant hole in contemporary film criticism, but this book performs a great service by creating a permanent reminder of the magnitude of his writing and film-advocacy achievements. Thank you, Steve Haruch, for this labor of love."
    Liz Helfgott, Editorial Director, The Criterion Collection
  • "Ridley is among those few 'reviewers' whose writing really does move into the realm of enduring film criticism. His examples are taken from the wide history of international cinema, and he makes unexpected connections between films that abide by a taste for cinema that is also, I want to say, an ethics of cinema. The organization of this volume brings Ridley's critical imagination to the fore."
    Jennifer Fay, Director of Cinema & Media Arts, Vanderbilt University