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April 04, 2013

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Petey

Ebert was a Golden God.

(My personal youthful experience of introduction to cinephila was figuring out that Siskel was always the wrong one. But that's obviously not nearly all that Ebert was. As I grew into a more mature cinephilia, I came to appreciate him more and more. Greatest Mainstream Popular Critic of All Time. And I did get laid once with a VHS of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but that's neither here nor there...)

Chris L.

Just devastating, especially given his blog post yesterday, which totally downplayed his health situation in favor of online redesigns, exciting new features, possibly a revived TV show...

It will take a while to process, but the main thing is he's no longer in pain or dealing with near-impossible restrictions of communication, movement, and so much else. And as much as any one piece of writing, I look to his toughness and equanimity in facing all that beset him late in life. Never a tinge of complaint. He just got on with it, as we now must.

I'd have loved the chance to know and work with him personally, like the various colleagues whose warm memories are being shared across the web today. (Nearly all of which make certain to reference Steak n' Shake restaurants. Gotta check one of those out sometime.) But he was nonetheless a lifelong friend and teacher through his words and example. No doubt about that. Peace and blessings to his wife Chaz and family.

Rand Careaga

Somewhere in my paper files I (hope I) still have an ad on yellowing newsprint carefully torn from the San Francisco Chronicle entertainment section in 1988 during the first local run of The Last Temptation of Christ. Half a dozen critical encomiums were featured, with the verdict of Siskel & Ebert at the top of the list: "Two Thumbs Up!"

Think about it.

Stephen Whitty

Thanks for this, Glenn.

I understand what you mean (and had actually just written something similar) about Roger as a critical influence -- that to movie-mad kids born circa 1959, and raised on the East Coast, there were other, elder gods. (And to realize now that I probably bought my copy of "The American Cinema" from Cinemabilia book clerk Richard Hell...)

But what I think about, more and more with Roger Ebert, is his courage, his determination, his calm and quiet bravery over the last decade. I never read a whining word from him, never saw anything but a man trying not to dwell on what he'd lost, trying to concentrate on what he had, and just doing the damn WORK. And he still never missed deadline.

I don't at all want to detract from his passion and erudition as a critic (although I too disagreed with him often). But what he stood for, how he lived, as a mensch? I'm in awe.

Brian

Lovely piece Glenn! As a 27 year old, I can pretty much say that, though I was a pretty avid At the Movies watcher, Ebert's website singlehandedly helped me to realize I loved the movies and helped me discover a whole new world of cinema. Without his great movies pieces, I may have never discovered Fellini, Kurosawa, Ozu, or the Marx brothers. I basically owe him my cinephilia.

jedgeco

"Ebert's website singlehandedly helped me to realize I loved the movies"

+1. One thing that I haven't seen mentioned in the tributes is that Ebert was one of (if not the) first major critics to put a huge chunk of his review archive on the web, for free, for any who was curious to delve through.

Thus, I'm sure that I'm not the only cinéaste who came of age in the mid-90s spending countless hours (in my case, staffing a computer lab for my work-study job, taking the "study" part loosely) on suntimes.com learning how to think critically about movies. Even though I parted ways with his critical perspective years ago, I still think of his writing has hugely influential on the way I think about movies.

george

Was listening to an old Ebert interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" today. He recalled the awe (and intimidation) he felt when he met John Wayne in 1968. Later, when he met younger stars like Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, he didn't feel the same awe.

Ebert realized that movie stars -- REAL movie stars -- are the ones who are stars when you're growing up. If they're your age or younger, they're just people. They're not larger-than-life icons.

Roger was right. I'd probably feel awe if I met Eastwood, Redford or Nicholson (who became stars when I was a kid). But if I met someone from the "Twilight" movies? Nope. No matter how many teenagers scream for them.

george

" ... that to movie-mad kids born circa 1959, and raised on the East Coast, there were other, elder gods."

I was born in 1959, and by the time Siskel and Ebert were on PBS (starting in '78), I was already a film buff, and had already read Sarris and Kael. Had already read a couple of Leonard Maltin movie guides to rags.

What all these critics did was expose those of us who DIDN'T live on the East Coast to foreign and indie films, and classics, that we otherwise would never have heard of. They made these mysterious films sound very exciting, and made us want to track them down. I give them kudos for that.

Mark

@ jedgeco

I was thinking the same thing yesterday, that Ebert's embrace of the internet expanded his impact, allowing him to become something beyond local movie critic and TV personality. He was already one of the most famous critics in the country, but the (literal) accessibility of his writing connected people to him in a whole new way.

If you were interested in any film with at least a small theatrical release from the past 45 years, you could probably find Ebert's review of it. For those just beginning as cinephiles, or those with just a general cultural interest, his site was very likely one of your first stops. His mastery of Twitter also exposed him to more readers, and is of a piece with the openness to ideas for which he is being rightly lauded.

Growing up in rural Illinois in the 1990s, I certainly feel a great deal of gratitude for the films and ideas I was exposed to by Ebert.

george

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkwVz_jK3gA

Siskel and Ebert outtakes, 1987. These guys could get testy with each other!

Steven Hart

What I liked best about Ebert was the way he grew as a critic, even as the media world shrank around him.

http://stevenhartsite.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/roger-ebert/

george

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcKgC6hJqDg

R.I.P. Annette Funicello, also gone at 70.

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