The Death of Roger Ebert

The Death of Roger Ebert

Film critic Roger Ebert has died at the age of 70. After undergoing surgeries to combat cancer Ebert had lost portions of his jaw and his ability to speak. This however didn’t stop him from reviewing movies. He was frequent presence on social media connecting with fans and getting his opinions out about Hollywood’s latest offerings.

Just yesterday I was reading his announcement of taking a ‘leave of presence’. Ebert was going to undergo radiation treatment for the recurrence of cancer and would cut back on his cinematic viewing. He had planned to continue to review movies in a limited capacity. As he said he was going to indulge in a critics fantasy reviewing “only the movies I want to review”.

Roger’s final review was The Host about a week ago, which he didn’t think much of.

Unfortunately, the death of Ebert was not a surprise. As I’ve written before I was always a big Siskel and Ebert fan and would be a regular viewer of their show. Their show was a blessing for any movie fan. They provided a program that discussed the artistic merits of the movies and the opinions from our two hosts.

At the time the so-called ‘entertainment shows’ that filled the airwaves would consist of Hollywood gossip and tabloid reports with all superficial news. Finally Siskel and Ebert provided a small little show that actually focused on the films these actors were starring in!

The Most Famous Thumbs in Cinema –
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert

Now thanks to the internet there’s no shortage of finding movie news, reviews and discussions by critics and fans on actual films, but at the time Siskel and Ebert were the oasis in a sea of Hollywood gossip reporting.

Of course they got their own flak. A ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ was pretty simplistic don’t you think? But it was a shorthand device of giving viewers the most basic opinion on a movie. Plus, it gave them a moniker to mark their final verdict on a movie, which would be proudly displayed on movie posters to entice movie audiences to buy a ticket.

I’m not going to go too much further with my affection for Gene and Roger. I’ve written about them and their show previously when At the Movies ended three years ago.

In short I always liked Roger. I have a few of his books. I was always amused by his I Hated This Movie book. There is something entertaining about a critic who gets so passionate about his personal hatred of a film. Ebert was very good at articulating that.

I listened to several of his dvd commentaries on films that he was a fan of and it was clear that he really loved his job watching movies. He would have to be to continue reviewing movies with his health issues in recent years. Although I  didn’t read his reviews regularly and disagreed with his opinion on a lot of films, I’m sorry to hear of his passing.

Not too long ago I was re-listening to an old tape I had of the Howard Stern show where Siskel and Ebert were guests. It just reminded me of how much fun the two of them were together, not only were both passionate about the movies, but each of them had a pretty good sense of humor.

*CORRECTION – Apparently Ebert’s final written review was for Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, which he gave a thumbs up to.


 



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3 Responses

  1. Marshalsify says:

    R.I.P. to the late great popular film critic and television co-host Roger Ebert who became the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize along with his fellow reviewer and sometime sparring partner Gene Siskel could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with their trademark thumbs up or thumbs down, died yesterday in Chicago at the age of 70, his legacy will live on!

  2. spaceodds says:

    R.I.P to Ebert. Sure I disagreed with a few of some his film reviews, but at least he tried to find positives in a flawed film, hardly surprising since he wrote the trash classic that is Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. However his books have been illuminating, its obvious the guy knew and loved cinema, something that's very rare when it comes to film critics. The only other critic I can think of who has a true passion for what he writes about is the British critic Mark Kermode.

    Siskel however I detested, he really gets on my nerves and his voice had that know it all tone to it. Sure it may have made a good double act, but still.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There Was 1 Movie Review That 'Siskel And Ebert' Did It Almost Led To A Fist-Fight' Gene Siskel Gave A Movie 'A Thumbs-Up' 'Roger Ebert Gave It A 'Thumbs Down' They Went On To The Next Film 'Benji The Hunted'!-(1987.) Gene Hated It Roger Loved It But Gene Siskel And Roger Ebert Got Into A Very Heated Debate Over It. It Looked Like Roger Was Getting Ready To Give Gene Siskel A Kunckle-Sandwich But The Arguement Stopped At The Last Minute They Went On To Some Other Movie. There Is A Review About 'BTHD' On 'Youtube' But Thats' Not The 1 That I Saw On Tv. The Video-Tape Was Proably Destroyed At Thier Request Too Bad As I Found Thier Reviews That They Did In The Early/Mid 1980s' Really Good. I Also Liked 'Sparky The Wonder Dog' 'The Dog Of The Week' Segment Too.

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