Death of film critic, with Hinde's sight, a great one

6th July 2006


Unique and eccentric: John Hinde

JOHN Hinde, an ABC war correspondent who became arguably Australia's most-loved film critic, has died, aged 92.

"He had a wonderful presence, a cheeky smile, and when he talked it waslike he was divulging something secret," said David Stratton, film reviewer for The Australian.

"He was also a very lopsided character; you expected him to fall out of frame," added Stratton, who remembers Hinde's tastes as being eclectic.

Hinde once told broadcaster Tim Bowden that he approached films as a consumer. "People didn't talk crap in those days as they do now, with a kind of forensic dissection of film," he said.

Hinde got his chance to review films for ABC radio in 1966, after the incumbent critic, Frank Legge, died in a car accident.

His popularity boomed when he moved to television.

He diversified into comedy with the help of Lisbeth Gore, first on Live & Sweaty, then on her Elle McFeast specials. "He was happy to send up his ancient status and had no qualms appearing in lycra, unlike all of us," Gore said.

The comedy sketches she wrote for him were often ribald, made more funny because they were at odds with his grandfatherly personality.

"He once dressed up as the Queen and delivered her Christmas message complete with false breasts, and revelled in it," said Gore. "And when he narrated the Mardi Gras special he took it from being a marginal event to being accepted and celebrated.

"He was a unique, eccentric person who was happy to have a go in a business obsessed by youth and beauty; he was pure content and character."

When he was dumped by ABC TV - prompting an outcry from viewers - he was bruised but also pragmatic, she said, because he knew the brutality of TV.

He studied medicine in Adelaide before becoming a newspaper journalist in Sydney.

Within a few years he had joined the ABC and an accident decided his fate: a senior correspondent was badly injured in a plane crash in World War II and Hinde was sent to the Pacific.

He had a few close calls himself and being caught in gunfire led to eyesight problems later in life.

Hinde was married to the novelist Barbara Jefferis, who died in 2004. He died in Sydney on Tuesday.