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The show that made Siskel and Ebert famous. These two Chicago-based movie critics sit around and review movies, giving either "Thumbs up" or "Thumbs down." Noted for the good-natured ... See full summary »
One of the first widely popular film-review programs, this show gave reviews intended for everyday movie-goers, without trying to present an in-depth analysis of the filmmaker's 'artistic vision.' Popularized the "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" format of movie synopsis. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
That is I used to watch Siskel and Ebert spar when they were PBS icons, and recall the great reviews they gave cult films, the likes of which were "The Road Warrior", "Sword and the Sorcerer", and then deservedly skewer films like "Porky's" or "The Last American Virgin" ad nauseum. Then, the real gems of the show would appear, and they would lavish praise on films worthy of adulation and respect like "Raging Bull" or "My Dinner with Andre".
Oft times the young portly Ebert would disagree with his slim counterpart. The Abbott and Costello of film reviews. The Laurel and Hardy. No, they weren't intentionally comic, and often were adversarial, but this added a human dimension, and that's what movies, good movies (even a few bad ones) are all about. They pointed out the foibles and flaws of the filmic world, and helped steer and otherwise guide us to more deserving cinematic offerings.
Did we always pay attention? No. Were they always right? Mostly. Did they forever place their mark on media. Indelibly.
The formula has been copied with varying degrees of success (or lack thereof). None has held a torch to the original dynamic duo who gave us opposing, sometimes conflicting, but always informative points of view.
As others mentioned, yes, they went on to mainstream network TV with the thumbs-gag-thing, which made another stamp on our visual media psyche. But the thumbs thing (regardless of Roman origin) would have not meant anything without Siskel and Ebert.
Siskel is with us no more, and Ebert has narrowly escaped the fate of his slimmer partner, but soldier on with his outstanding insight into films and all things visual. One countered the other, and one still feels a sense of loss sans Sikels presence, but those filling in for him, notably Roepert, have done him proud.
The show is to be no more in the coming weeks (again, at the time of this writing), and I for one, not always having been a faithful follower, will miss it. I have fond memories of watching that show from Chicago while in California's smoldering hot and icy cold valley, and likewise when I moved to the relative Mediterranean calm of the San Francisco Bay Area. I didn't know much about Chicago then, but I knew it must be a place of great expectations to produce (or at least bring together) two such outstanding and well educated minds on what we find appealing, what we should like, what we should disdain, and what can fool us if we're not careful.
Thanks for reading.
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