Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were entertaining and insightful film critics. Click on the theater image to go to a 1978 episode... and enjoy!

“No good film is too long, and no bad film is short enough.” 
— Roger Ebert

Last night, I gasped with delight over seeing a re-airing of an old Siskel and Ebert from their WTTW days, 1978 to be exact.  “Sneak Previews” made its debut on Channel 11.

What a thrill to see an original episode – to hear their takes on “Grease” and “Jaws 2,” and discuss the Hollywood blockbuster, e.g., “Star Wars.”  Very prophetic.

Siskel and Ebert seemed so much more genuine and forthright than the sanitized, glitzy packaging of today, or worse, that sneer / snark fest that seems to pervade entertainment shows. 

These two had an earnest, passionate and blunt way of debating a film’s merits.  Gene Siskel died in 1999 from cancer-related complications.  He was only 53.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Ebert’s blog:

We began on the air in 1975. Four or five years later, home video first began to attract attention, but in the early years there were format wars, buying a tape could cost $79, and most big recent movies weren’t available. Then all of that changed, and the current era of DVDs and Blockbuster and Netflix and streaming online content began to unfold. Today, there would be an audience for the original Siskel & Ebert reviews of, say, “Batman” or “Jurassic Park,” or Ebert & Roeper trading opinions on “Crash” or “Brokeback Mountain,” or Martin Scorsese and I picking the best film of he 1990s.

As nearly as I’ve been able to tell, very few of our programs taped between 1975 and 1985 were preserved. The tapes were erased and re-used, or just thrown away to make room. Television lived for today’s program, not yesterday’s. I remember when Janet LaMonica, an assistant producer for “Siskel & Ebert,” climbed into a dumpster and rescued most of the work Gene Siskel did locally for WBBM-CBS.

[end excerpt]

Chicago movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert appear on a 1993 David Letterman show to discuss that year’s big films, Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” versus “A Few Good Men.”

Another nostalgic moment — seeing the old intro to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert At the Movies, when Siskel was with the Chicago Tribune, and Ebert wrote (and still does) for the Chicago Sun Times, (part of my newspaper chain).  Believe their program was called, “Sneak Previews” on WTTW-TV, one of our PBS stations, (Channel 11).

Gene Siskel died 12 years ago — and I still miss his verbal fencing with Roger Ebert.  Incredible, the lasting power and dynamic those two created.  Best of luck to Roger Ebert and his family.  Thumbs-up!

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