Michael Wilmington’s favorite fable “Bartholomew Croy and the Bubbula Bush”

Michael Wilmington was a fierce film critic during a time when some of the greatest movies ever made were produced and immortalized. Yet, for all the reviews and essays, and articles he wrote about the movies, he said that one of his favorites was a story called “Bartholomew Croy and the Bubbula Bush”. Of all the film critics who ever gave their viewpoints and reactions to new films, Michael Wilmington is one that poured out his heart and soul into every review he wrote. See the side of him that tells a fractured fable of woe about the Hollywood movie-making machine and all the toils and troubles that go with it.

Michael associated with plenty of fellow critics, like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and knowledgeable film scholars, like Joesph McBride and David Bordwell, from both coasts and the Midwest. He taught film classes in Chicago and loved going to see the movies in the neighborhood theaters to hear the crowd’s reaction and feel the vibe. In a way he was a critic’s critic as he loved to talk about the merits of a film with fellow critics and he was always interested in conveying the essence of a film to his readers. He knew how important good criticism was and how it helped to provide new perspectives, perspectives that could otherwise have gone unnoticed and under-appreciated. Michael knew how to write film reviews that mattered. This is what we will be sharing more of as our documentary “There’s Always Another Movie” is finally completed.

Here are the opening lines of the fable and Michael’s reason for writing it. Along with a follow-up option to see the entire reading by Michael. Enjoy!


Michael Wilmington Made the Movies His Muse – A Film Critic Extraordinaire 1946 to 2022

Michael Wilmington with Studs Tekel 2006
Michael Wilmington with Studs Tekel 2006 Facets Film Festival

I thought I was going to have more time in 2022 to write this but as we all know, we always fool ourselves into thinking that we have more time. It is with much sorrow and sadness while I write this post, that today, Thursday January 6 at 1pm, Pacific time, my longtime friend and film mentor, as well as nationally known film critic, Michael Wilmington passed away. The last several years have not been kind to Michael since his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. When he broke his hip in June of 2021, he never fully recovered.

Michael was one of the first people I met in 1974 when I started as a film student at the University of WI-Madison. I know now that meeting Michael had an influence on my life and how I would think of and talk about film for the rest of my life.

Since the year 2000, I have been working on a film about Michael’s life and career as a film critic at the Chicago Tribune. In the middle of making this film, Michael wrote a film script, Night of the Shrieking Dead (NoTSD), that he wanted to act in as well. I was the director on this short film that is now the film within the documentary film about him, There’s Always Another Movie. The film is scheduled to be finished in 2022. I’m posting the Vimeo link for NOTSD here that showcases Michael’s writing and acting…


I know that I will be writing more about the life of Michael Wilmington in the days and months ahead. I think Michael was a cinema savant because of his encyclopedic knowledge of film. His love of film was infectious and I’m a better, and smarter person for having spent time watching films with him as well as the honor of making a film about him.

  • Tribute by Michael Reano, January 6, 2022 – Director of “There’s Always Another Movie”