The Digital Bits Honors Barrie Maxwell - 1947-2012

July 30, 2012 - 12:01 am   |   By 


Tributes from Barrie's Friends & Colleagues


Like a great many of you, I was a fan of Barrie Maxwell's. The minute his columns came in, I read them like I was reading a magazine article. Even if I was editing it - it was simply an entertaining read for me.

I loved reading Barrie because he was a passionate man; an informed man. Among his many intellectual pursuits, he was a scholar of cinema and someone who simply wanted to share his perspective. And thank God he had something worth sharing.

Thanks to the Internet Age we live in, I've been exposed to some incredibly talented individuals who have altered my perspective on film and opened my eyes to new things that I might not have taken the chance on. For going on ten years, Barrie did this with his columns here on The Bits.

Because of this Internet Age we live in, we've all been exposed to individuals who burp words out and consider themselves critics, reviewers and teachers. Barrie didn't burp words. Nor did Barrie try and pass himself off as someone who knew better than you. Barrie shared his love of life, art and movies with all of us who were lucky enough to read him.

Barrie was, in the immortal words of Bob Burns: "one of us."

I'm truly lucky to have met Barrie in person - he was exactly as his column was; rich with life, full of insight and above all else inviting and easy-going. My heart goes out to his wife Sue and his entire family. Words can't fully express how much we at The Digital Bits - as contributors and readers - are going to miss him, his words and his take on classic movies, great and small.

Todd Doogan, Contributing Editor
The Digital Bits

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If memory serves, I only met Barrie Maxwell once or twice. He immediately struck me as unfailingly polite, a bit modest and remarkably intelligent on an almost staggeringly deep breadth of topics. He was a true gentleman. In short, he was exactly the sort of man you'd expect from reading his columns.

Like most of you, I got to know Barrie through his words, both his columns for the Bits and the occasional email exchange. As a longtime reader and fan of the Bits, I looked forward to every one of his columns, guaranteed that he'd be introducing me to at least one movie I'd never heard of before. As a contributor to the site, his work filled me with a mixture of respect and envy. I'd feel like I really accomplished something by turning in a review of a single disc. Next day, here comes a new column by Barrie with reviews of 25 new titles! How did he do it? And how did he make it look so effortless?

If his prodigious output made the rest of us look bad, it was nothing compared to how he made our site look so good. He wrote with quiet authority, often persuading you without making it appear as if he were being persuasive. His tone always suggested he was more than happy, even eager, to hear differing opinions and other arguments. But if you wanted to engage in that conversation, you'd better know damn well what you're talking about or else it's an argument you were going to lose.

I've always paid close attention to what my Bits colleagues are writing about, partly as a fan, partly with an eye on making sure everything was up to our standards, and partly to make sure I wasn't planning on writing about something someone else has already covered. Barrie's work always met and exceeded the Bits' level of quality, so that was never a concern. But from time to time, he'd beat me to the punch on something I wanted to write about. And every time, Barrie did it better than I ever could. When Barrie would occasionally cover a disc one of us had already discussed, he was generous to a fault, referring his readers back to our original thoughts. He seemed to intrinsically know that despite the one-sided nature of what we do, at heart we want to start a discussion. Writing about movies or music or science or anything you love isn't much fun if there isn't a give and take. And for Barrie, the writing was always fun.

Losing Barrie's voice is a tremendous loss for us here at The Digital Bits but it's nothing compared to the loss suffered by his family and friends. I hope they can take some comfort in knowing how much he meant to us, his fans and colleagues around the world. Thank you, Barrie, for sharing your insight, observations and encyclopedic knowledge and for doing it so well. We're going to miss you more than I can possibly say.

Adam Jahnke, Contributing Editor
The Digital Bits

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Having been a regular reader of The Bits since my teenage years, it's safe to assume that I've spent countless hours reading the columns of Barrie Maxwell. His writing talent and his advocacy for film preservation are what enter my mind when I think of him, and what always kept me coming back for more.

I'll be perfectly honest though and admit that even though I've written somewhat regularly for The Bits for the past few years, I never had any kind of one-on-one contact with Barrie. I remember the couple of times that he mentioned me and my reviews in a couple of his columns, causing me to grin with excitement. The fact that someone who's work I've been reading for more than ten years was reading mine, and enjoying it, was a great thrill for a green-horned writer like me.

I'm deeply saddened that I never got a chance to get to know him and I'm equally sad that I'll never get a chance to read his columns again. My heart goes out to his family. His suffering may be over, but he'll live on in both our memories and our hearts.

Farewell Barrie. You will be missed one and all.

Tim Salmons, Contributing Reviewer
The Digital Bits

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I didn't know Barry personally. But I didn't have to as I've always felt that we were well acquainted. You see, Barry spoke to my curiosity about movies and the world like the consummate pro he was. He was the guy who knew what I wanted to know. What set Barry further apart was his willingness to share it with the rest of us. And we're all the richer for it. 

Barry will be missed.

Matt Rowe, Editor
MusicTAP

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While I didn't have the opportunity to know him that well I consider myself fortunate to have met him over the course of several HTF meets. I found him very warm and genuine - the type of individual you didn't forget. One really sensed, when speaking with Barry, his passion for collecting and watching films. He was one of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time. He will be missed.

Ron Epstein, Co-owner
Home Theater Forum

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The web is a huge and occasionally strange place. One of the very nice things about it is the ability to meet special people. Especially those who share common interests.

Barrie Maxwell was one of those very special people. Not only did he understand and love cinema, he enjoyed researching it and sharing the rewards of that research and knowledge with others.

He and I never met. But we communicated on a reasonably regular basis, as he was writing and researching. His presence at The Digital Bits was for many, a prime reason to visit there, and share his joy of the cinema.

He will be missed.

Robert A. Harris, Archivist & President
The Film Preserve

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Barrie Maxwell was a loyal supporter of Warner Bros. His enthusiasm for classic film from all sources served as an inspiration to the countless Digital Bits readers who looked forward to the insights and perspective he brought to his writings. For that we'll always be grateful.

Ronnee Sass, VP, Publicity and Promotion
Warner Home Video

George Feltenstein, SVP, Theatrical Catalog Marketing
Warner Home Video

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It is with deep sorrow that I learned of the passing of Barrie Maxwell. He was one of the few people in his field who not only talked with passion about movies, but possessed the knowledge to back up whatever his topic of choice. Not only were his writings informative and voluminous, but he was also fun to read and that is an attribute that cannot be applied to many. He will be missed.

Grover Crisp, EVP Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering
Sony Pictures Entertainment

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We at the National Film Preservation Foundation were saddened to learn of the passing of your esteemed Digital Bits colleague Barrie Maxwell. He was a trailblazer and over the past decade his reviews and columns set the standard for all those who enjoy home video. His insight, graciousness and love of cinema will be greatly missed.

Annette Melville, Director
National Film Preservation Foundation

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