Siskel & Ebert were the reason why David Letterman has two chairs for guests.
Here is a video of them going door-to-door with David Letterman in New Jersey, just for the heck of it.
I grew up watching Siskel & Ebert and when Gene passed away in the late 90s it was awful. Watching this video of them now makes me sad, but it’s also nice to see them as they were.
You know how it’s sort of impossible for a band to be like The Beatles now, or for a folk singer to be like Dylan was in the 60s, to so thoroughly have an identity in the culture at large? That’s how Siskel & Ebert were to film criticism— they were The Beatles. It’s sort of impossible for anybody to be that now, especially in an age where everybody’s opinions about everything are all over the place. What they were is a thing that doesn’t really exist anymore, and it didn’t exist before them either. They invented a role for themselves and for a brief couple of decades they were America’s film critics, rivals and friends who loved each other and drove each other crazy.
TWO favorite S&E fights: the episode where Ebert gave thumbs down to Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables but gave thumbs up to Benji: The Hunted, and Siskel was furious about it; and the episode where Ebert was scolding Siskel for not giving thumbs up to Albert Brooks’ Mother, arguing that Brooks doesn’t make films that often. Siskel shot back without hesitation “then you should go back and give thumbs up to his first film, Real Life, which is better than this!” (Real Life had been released 17 years earlier.)
Ebert had adapted better than most to the way the media landscape had changed— rather than accept his fate as some sort of dinosaur of print media, he was as vital as ever, even in sickness, tweeting and posting his writings online with as much energy and passion as ever.
And he still seemed excited about movies, and wanted new movies to be great, and never gave in to false nostalgia for a previous era— he would bemoan bad movies but was a passionate enthusiast about any new great movie he came across.
UGH it’s great that they existed.
I just made my coworkers watch the review of “Cop and a Half” from Siskel & Ebert.
The Today Show invited Cody and I to stage a marriage proposal April Fool’s prank yesterday. Willie Geist was the only one in on it apart from the producers who hired us. Pretty fun to prank Martha! As we left the greenroom after the segment she coyly remarked, “Goodbye, liars.” I was worried Natalie might remember me from our 2008 interview but I guess the beard fooled her.
“Goodbye, liars,” said the convicted felon.
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.