British Columbia·Audio

Rick Staehling, long-time CBC film critic, dies at 73

The beloved CBC film critic, who spent three decades steering listeners to the best of film, passed away Friday from lung cancer.

Staehling's last review on CBC's On The Coast was in 2010

Rick Staehling, a film critic for CBC for over three decades, died Friday. (@extrabolditalic/Twitter)

Rick Staehling, a long-time film critic with CBC, is being remembered for being a consummate film buff who always had time to nurture and mentor others to follow in his footsteps.

Staehling, 73, died Friday from lung cancer.

Staehling was a film critic on CBC for three decades, steering listeners to the best of film. He signed off from On The Coast in 2010, describing his favourite — and least favourite — movie. (Hint: he had no love for this Michael Jordan cartoon mash-up.)

Listen to a clip from Staehling's last interview on CBC's On The Coast with then-host Stephen Quinn:

In this interview from 2010, Rick Staehling talks his favourite and least favourite movies with then-host Stephen Quinn. 1:47

But Staehling wasn't just a film critic for the CBC; he also worked as an art designer for Vancouver magazine, and was a lecturer at Capilano University, the University of British Columbia and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Tom Charity, a friend of Staehling's and a programmer with the Vancouver International Film Festival, says he first heard of Staehling through the radio before working closely with him at the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, where they were both members. 

"His voice ... was so distinctive and that kind of wry humour and unsentimental intelligence just came through," Charity said. 

"He wasn't a film snob but he knew everything there was to know about movies."

Charity said Staehling was always willing to mentor young film buffs or students of all ages. 

"Rick was always so generous with his time and loved, he really responded to your enthusiasms. He was an enthusiast himself and he loved to share in your joy, what you took from the movies, and pool that with his own knowledge and send you off in different directions," he recalled.


Charity said that deep abiding love of film started when Staehling studied art design at the prestigious College of Design in Los Angeles. 

"From what I understand he kind of fell in love with movies in a much more profound way at that time in L.A. in the late 1960s, just by that proximity to Hollywood," Charity said. 

Staehling would often reminisce about this time in e-mails to Charity. 

His last e-mail was about Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood — a look at Hollywood in 1969. Staehling recounted to Charity how he lived only a couple of blocks from where one of the Manson murders took place. 

"He just loved all that stuff, all that kind of Hollywood ephemera," Charity said. "I'm going to miss him really sorely."

Staehling is survived by his wife, Lori.

Listen to the full interview with Tom Charity on CBC's On The Coast:

For more on the life of Rick Staehling, who passed away Friday, we're joined by his friend and programmer with Vancity VIFF, Tom Charity. 7:08

With files from On The Coast


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