See You At the Movies, Roger

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough" — Roger Ebert

I grew up watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, first on PBS on a show called Sneak Previews, and then later when they had their network show, At the Movies. Coming from a long line of opinionated people who have never been shy about sharing their likes and dislikes, I loved hearing their opinions on the latest movies, and disagreeing with both of them (although I tended to disagree more with Roger than Gene.)

Gene and Roger didn't just review the latest blockbuster movies like Star Wars. They also spoke intelligently and at times passionately about foreign and independent films. I was introduced to many directors and movies that I never would have seen because of them — living in suburban south Jersey I may not have had a chance to see some of their more obscure picks until they showed up much later on video, but I remembered the films and their reviews, and that the two squabbling critics had given it a thumbs up. Siskel and Ebert helped me hone my critical faculties and love of movies (and the desire to talk about them and analyse them after viewing them).


After Gene Siskel died (too young!) in 1999, I continued to watch Roger with Richard Roeper, but it was never the same, I suspect as much for Roger as for the audience. Ebert created a whole new internet career for himself in the past few years. He was as opinionated and interesting to read as ever, and he gave opportunities to other film reviewers on his blog. He also wrote about his cancer battles and childhood and any other pop culture subject that struck his fancy. It was always an interesting read.

Ebert had many accomplishments. He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize. He co-wrote the schlocky but good-natured 1970 Russ Meyer film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. But I suspect he will be most remembered for his love of movies and his "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" reviews. RIP Roger. You will be missed.

Related:

I do not fear death, by Roger Ebert, Salon, September 15, 2011.

Roger Ebert’s 10 Most Brutal Movie Review QuotesHeavy

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