Film critic Roger Ebert died yesterday at the age of 70. There have been countless tributes and RIP's out there from fellow critics, actors, filmmakers, bloggers, even President Obama. Most people knew him from his TV partnership with Gene Siskel, where their "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" was used and repeated so much it became part of pop culture, eventually they even had it trademarked. But he started his career when the Chicago Sun-Times film critic retired and he was put into the position in 1967. He always considered himself a writer and reporter above all. He wrote more than 7,000 reviews during his career, most of which I've probably read. He even won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975, the first movie critic to be bestowed the honor. He apparently had more than 31,000 Twitter posts, though I'm not a big Twitter person so I didn't read most of them. He also posted on his blog frequently, and I read most of those entries.
No one is more responsible for my growth in film knowledge and appreciation than Ebert. As I got into my teens and needed something to push my brain, I came upon Ebert's writing. I'd always preferred Siskel on the show, but Ebert's writing was like a whole new world to me. His weekly reviews (often pushing near 300 a year) have been regularly read by me for more than a decade. His "Great Movies" essays on the essential movies in history were always a welcome Sunday read. Any time I saw a new movie, usually even if I'd read his review before watching it, I wanted to see what Ebert had to say, even (and sometimes especially) when I thought he was wrong. Even today, I've seen a lot of Siskel and Ebert reviews on TV (or YouTube or SiskelandEbert.org where their reviews live now) but it's no comparison to what I've read from Ebert.
|With on screen partner Gene Siskel|
|Recently with wife of over 20 years, Chaz|