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By Greg Goodsell

4/5/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Heavyset man introduced many to critical thinking and artistic analysis

For many years, Roger Ebert was known as the "fat one," his co-host Gene Siskel the "skinny one." They would chat about movies and say what they liked, or didn't like about the films they had seen that week, giving it a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on their syndicated TV show "At the Movies." Ebert was so, so much more - one among only three American journalists to win the Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism, but it was through this half-hour show that many were introduced to the world of analytical thought. Ebert has joined his co-host Siskel, who passed away in 1998, after losing his long battle with cancer at the age of 70.

 

Roger Ebert, right, with cohost of 'At the Movies,' Gene Siskel. Ebert insisted that he and Siskel, in all their years, were never social, and would only nod to one another if they spotted the other one riding their elevator.

Roger Ebert, right, with cohost of "At the Movies," Gene Siskel. Ebert insisted that he and Siskel, in all their years, were never social, and would only nod to one another if they spotted the other one riding their elevator.

Highlights

By Greg Goodsell

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/5/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: Rober Ebert, cancer, death, movie critic, Pulitzer Prize, Gene Siskel


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Chicago Sun-Times reviewer had a very simple approach to film criticism: Find out what the director was trying to do, and see if he was successful. The author of countless books, he joined the newspaper part time in 1966 while pursuing graduate study at the University of Chicago. Wining the job of film critic the following year, his reviews were eventually syndicated to several hundred other newspapers, collected in books and repeated on innumerable Web sites. There's no question that he was the most influential film critic of his day.

His 1975 Pulitzer for distinguished criticism was the first, and one of only three, given to a film reviewer since the category was created in 1970. He got his first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.

Celebrating such legends as Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, he offered words of encouragement for then-newcomer Martin Scorsese.

Ebert did have his particular likes and dislikes. He would often call down films he felt went through the boundaries of good taste, and took such favorites as "A Clockwork Orange" and "Blue Velvet" for their brutality and violence.

People would then point to his earlier days as a screenwriter for nudie filmmaker Russ Meyer, penning the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" - an act of tasteless violence being perpetrated the very moment his name in the opening credits rolled on the screen.

It wasn't possible to dislike Ebert as the man loved movies. On his original TV show, Siskel and Ebert would host a "Dog of the Week," usually an exploitation or horror movie that was then playing New York City's 42nd Street. If they found the film worthy of attack, it was a sure sign to run right out and see it on the basis of their condemnation.

Ebert served as an even bigger inspiration when he lost portions of his jaw and the ability to speak, eat and drink after cancer surgeries in 2006. He overcame his health problems to resume writing full-time and eventually even returned to television. "You play the cards you're dealt," Ebert wrote. "What's your choice? I have no pain, I enjoy life, and why should I complain?"

Ebert, your seat has been saved and the movie is about to begin. Thank you.

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