2014 Road Trip Photos #30: Roger and Me

Ebert and me!

Imagine it: a syndicated series called Ebert & Golden and the Movies. Every episode would’ve been thirty minutes of Ebert talking cinema and me nodding my head, taking notes, and silently scrunching up my face if I disagreed.

Welcome to my third annual Roger Ebert entry!

On the occasion of the noted film critic’s passing on April 4, 2013, I wrote at length about the impact he and his partner/rival/dear friend Gene Siskel had on me at an impressionable age. In 2014 I wrote about Steve James’ documentary Life Itself, which unexpectedly became a chronicle of Ebert’s final days as cancer took its toll. (We’ve also visited the Chicago theater named after Siskel, but that doesn’t count. Wrong guy.)

Here we are again with another Ebert tribute after a brief stopover in his hometown. We weren’t even supposed to be there that day.

Right this way for more of that famous thumb!

“Life Itself”: Ebert & Friends & Family & the Movies

Ebert!

A recently unveiled statue of Roger Ebert, seated outside the Virginia Theatre in his hometown of Champaign, IL. Photo by Anne Golden, from our 2014 road trip.

When film critic Roger Ebert passed away in April 2013, I wrote at length about the influence that he and his longtime TV debate partner Gene Siskel had upon my life. That entry is intro enough to explain why, when I heard there was a new documentary about Ebert, it was an obvious pick for my summer must-see list.

One contemporary peer labels Ebert “the definitive mainstream film critic”. Another, less charitable fellow in his field dismisses Ebert’s longtime TV career as doing their practice an injustice. (“Consumer advice is not the same as criticism.”) Several came together for the special occasion of Life Itself.

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Siskel & Ebert at/and/with/for/vs./because of the Movies

Most Internet users already heard the news: longtime film critic Roger Ebert passed away Thursday at age 70 after yet another bout with cancer. His passing comes fifteen years after that of his TV comrade, sparring partner, and dear friend Gene Siskel.

I can’t remember what impressionable age I was when I first encountered their popular syndicated movie-review series Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. Our local affiliates sometimes aired it on Saturday afternoons, sometimes in the dead of night, and occasionally found it useful for filling any programming holes outside primetime. I’d never seen anything like it; thirty minutes of two movie fans sitting in a deserted theater balcony and telling viewers whether they thought the latest movies were good or bad. It sounded like a dull concept for a TV show. I could imagine the fun if they were brandishing weapons, but just sitting there? Talking? Why?

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