Film critic Roger Ebert, who brought intelligent movie reviews to both newspaper readers and television viewers, died April 4th after a long battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancers. He was 70 years old. Ebert wrote about film for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly 50 years, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1975--the first movie critic to earn the honor. That same year, he and rival film critic Gene Siskel began co-hosting a Chicago TV program devoted to movie opinions. They moved to public television in 1978 (with the title "Sneak Previews"), before switching to commercial stations and several different titles; the pair later created a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" system for films that became widely parodied. Ebert continued to co-host the program after Siskel's death in 1999, but left the airwaves in 2006 after his voice became affected by cancer. He continued to write movie reviews and other subjects on the Internet, and had a strong following in social media. His last column came this past week, when he announced he would be cutting back his film reviews. Lovers of bad movies will recall Ebert wrote the screenplay for the 1970 potboiler "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls." Roger Ebert is survived by his wife, a stepdaughter and two step-grandchildren.
Here's an early edition of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, reviewing the 1976 film "Network" for a local Chicago television station:
"Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."--Alfred Hitchcock