Marty Meltz didn’t care what other film critics were saying about a movie. The only thing he had in mind when he wrote a review was his readers.

“He was a populist film critic,” said his wife, Lucille Meltz. “He didn’t write for the critics. He had a disdain for other critics. He thought they were too elitist.”

Meltz, who reviewed movies for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram for 30 years, died Wednesday in Hendersonville, North Carolina, surrounded by family and friends. He was 81.

A former resident of Lubec, Meltz moved to North Carolina last year after his health started to decline. His daughter, Mindi Friedwald, lives in Bat Cave, North Carolina.

During his many years as a film critic for the Portland newspapers, Meltz wrote hundreds of movie reviews that people from across the state often read before paying the price of admission.

“We went to the movies together every week,” his wife said. “But I would never see violent films. I was very selective about what we saw. We’d call it our date night.”

His wife recalled seeing one movie with her husband in Portland. A couple sitting behind them apparently did not know a lot about the movie they were about to watch.

“I remember hearing one of them say, ‘What do you think this movie is about?’ And the other person replied, ‘I don’t know. What did Marty say?'” Lucille Meltz said.

Marty Meltz was born in Philadelphia, but declined to pursue a career in his family’s successful wholesale seafood company. Instead Meltz attended Temple University and the University of Pennsylvannia. After graduation he worked as an accountant, taught high school math and served as a high school cheerleading coach.

Meltz met his wife in Philadelphia through Operation Match – the nation’s first computer dating service. She said they had to fill out a handwritten questionnaire, which was analyzed by a computer to match compatible couples. The program was designed by a group of Harvard students in the mid-1960s.

In the early years of their married life, Meltz and his wife spent their summers on Monhegan Island, where he operated his own gallery featuring fine art scenic photography. His original, hand-processed, limited edition photography was widely published in New England journals, purchased by Bowdoin College’s art museum and exhibited across the state as well as in New York City.

His love of Maine convinced him that they should move here permanently. The couple moved to Harpswell in 1970.

“He never wanted to live anywhere else, and felt his soul was deeply tied to the mysteries, moody weather and light, deep silences, and ocean scenes of the Maine coast,” his family wrote in an email. “His photography expressed his fascination with contrast, the wisdom of trees and gulls, and the miraculous movements of water. He saw life as a great game, which he loved to analyze and be challenged by – but he loved the gulls and the ocean because, for him, they existed beyond it.”

Meltz wrote movie reviews for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram from 1977 to 2007, his wife said. She said her husband reviewed at least two or three movies a week.

“Over the course of his career, he probably reviewed two or three thousand movies,” she said. “He was passionate about what he did.”

If the couple was going to take a vacation, Meltz would set aside the time to review a movie that he wanted to see before they left.

“We planned all our vacations around movies. Marty was extremely conscientious,” she said. “His reviews were intelligent, articulate and they were real.”

Meltz traveled widely in the United States, Europe, Mexico and Canada during his lifetime. For their honeymoon, the couple drove a Volkswagen bus across the country with three cats on board.

Jeff Blake, a friend of Meltz’s and a former Portland Press Herald copy editor, edited his movie reviews for the paper for about 10 years.

“He was the most passionate writer I edited and he loved movies,” Blake said. Meltz was a sound writer, but tended to write long sentences, he added.

“It wasn’t technically a run-on sentence and I would think, ‘There’s something wrong here,’ but he was an inventive writer and I couldn’t find anything. Sometimes I would just put in a comma because I thought I should, but he would be there on Thursday afternoon in his sneakers and old blue jeans and say, ‘What did you do that for?”

“It’s a testament to his passion.”

He conveyed that passion every week, Blake said.

“This was not a guy who ever mailed it in and I … really appreciated that about him,” he said. “And he didn’t care what other critics thought. He had a great eye for the quality of the movies. He had a really good eye for a well-done movie.”

A memorial service will be held this summer in Lubec.

“It will be small and intimate. He liked to keep things low key,” his wife said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.