Roger Ebert spent 31 years on TV, highlighting the day's movies in a way that was accessible for the audience, simultaneously informational and entertaining to watch.
Thanks to his passionate sparring with his fellow on-camera critic, the Chicago Tribune's Gene Siskel, Ebert's renown spread beyond the text of his reviews and right into pop culture history. The thumbs up, thumbs down approach is familiar even to those who don't know where the saying comes from.
At the time of his death on Thursday, Ebert, 70, had plans to bring his famed series, "At the Movies," back to life. He did it once before after it was canceled in 2010, reinventing the iconic film review series as "Ebert Presents: At the Movies," but soon ran into trouble with funding.
"In response to your repeated requests to bring back the TV show 'At the Movies,' I am launching a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter in the next couple of weeks," Ebert wrote on Tuesday, the day he announced he was taking a "leave of presence" since his cancer had returned.
He never got the chance to fulfill that goal. But in honor of his legacy, we've rounded a few of our favorite clips:
1. Roger Ebert got his start on TV in the mid-70s, and was paired with Gene Siskel, a film critic from a rival paper. In this 1979 clip of "Sneak Previews" below, the famed critics discuss Oscars picks:
2. Part of the fun of watching Siskel and Ebert, whose show later become known as "At the Movies," was seeing them behave like " the original frenemies," as one colleague told Slate magazine.
3. Another such favorite was their take on "Full Metal Jacket":
4. As one CNN.com commenter recalled, "At the Movies" was "a staple for me growing up as a kid (I'm 40) and as an adult. Just to watch them was entertainment in itself. ... Their colorful reviews (whether or not you agreed with them) and personalities will be missed!" This clip of them reviewing "Cop and a Half" is full of that spark:
5. And then there are the outtakes. Urlesque.com uncovered "the darker side" of Siskel and Ebert in 2010, just over a decade after Siskel's 1999 death.
“At first the relationship on TV was edgy and uncomfortable,” Ebert wrote of his longtime co-star upon his passing. “Our newspaper rivalry was always in the air between us. Gene liked to tell about the time he was taking a nap under a conference table at the television station, overheard a telephone conversation I was having with an editor, and scooped me on the story.”
How could Ebert miss the brilliance of Full Metal Jacket is beyond me.
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