Roger Ebert's Death (1942-2013): Forefather Of Movie Blogging Passes Away

Roger Ebert Death

I've never been much of an obituary-writing guy, but Roger Ebert deserves to be celebrated.  So, rather than add to the hundreds of thousands of words that are about to be spent reexamining his remarkable life and career following his death today, I'm going to make one observation about his contribution to movie culture and then leave you with a clip that, I hope, will make you smile when you think of him.

My introduction to Ebert, and his equally mouthy partner in movie criticism, Gene Siskel, came via their thoroughly enjoyable syndicated television show At The Movies, which began as a PBS series in 1975, Sneak Previews, and eventually became Siskel and Ebert and The Movies from 1986 until 1999. (The year Siskel died.)  And though I'm quite aware that a) these guys were operating on television and b) blog culture was a long way off,  there's a real argument to be made that Siskel and Ebert are the real forefathers of the movie blog culture that exists today.

Siskel and Ebert: Proto-Movie Bloggers

Each week, they candidly curated a subjective list of movies that were opening that week.  They told the television audience which films were worth seeing and why,  which ones should be ignored, and which movies were worth actively seeking out at the video store if they weren't shown at the local cinema. And, by the way, their thumbs up or down system of rating movies was the proto-Rotten Tomatoes. As Roadside Attractions tweeted on Thursday afternoon: "Siskel & Ebert almost single-thumbedly made Hoop Dreams a thing. If they'd never done anything else, they'd still be indie film legends."

Siskel and Ebert lavished attention on obscure movies;  they taught their audience how to look at crowd pleasers with a critical eye, and they fought and bickered with each other in a way that made great television. Their TV show had all of the elements of a great blog:  curation, information, perspective and entertainment.  And they did it better than a lot of bloggers are doing it now.

Rest in peace, Roger Ebert. You, too, Gene Siskel. This is how I'll remember you: bickering brilliantly like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

Siskel and Ebert At Each Other's Throats

Follow Frank DiGiacomo on Twitter.

Follow Movieline on Twitter.


  • bringhimhome says:

    I miss you. I'm so sorry. I love you.

  • Great read, I simply passed this on to a friend who was carrying out a tiny study on that. And he really bought me lunch mainly because I came across it for him! So let me rephrase that: Thanks for meal!

  • You make some good points. I guess it depends on your standpoint. - Denial aint just a river in Egypt. - Mark Twain 1835 - 1910

  • Hey, found your site by accident doing a search on Google but I'll definitely be coming back. - He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money. - Benjamin Franklin 1706 - 1790

  • is just about one of the the best. hard work really dont have a great deal on somethin

  • this really is going on my twitte

  • Eventually, I founded the information I was seeking out for. We have now been taking out homework on this subject, and for 4 days I protect acquiring web-sites which are meant to have what I am hunting for, only to be disappointed utilizing the dont have of what I wished. I wish I could have identified your web-site sooner! I had about 25% of what I utilized to become in require of and your web page has that, plus the rest of what I vital to finish my researching. Weve got activated to this website right right here I like which you will observe authentic post written content that you'll be able to hardly uncover elsewhere. 1 excellent thing, you quite possibly can receive nevertheless these types of blogs, make certain you go on! I can no for a longer period see the well-liked media. It can be there lots rubbish printed, I bear it no very much a lot more quickly. A truly pleasant blog site and good write-up. I expend nights inside the earth huge web learning blogs, about tons of several subjects. I should original of all give kudos to whoever recognized your web sites and 2nd of all to you for composing what i can only describe as an publish. I honestly imagine theres a capability to writing content or blog site articles or blog posts that only several posses and frankly you may have it. The mixture of informative and fantastic subject material is definitely exceptionally scarce utilizing the enormous volume of web site around the on the net world.At all times keep a very beneficial give excellent outcomes

  • are you interested to exchange links%3

  • Excellent post.When talking about Free Palm Reading,it’s always interesting and mysterious

  • for many years to come, it is here, the best sales professionals, have a clean shot. A sharp increase in retained their rankings in search engines and blog essence and structure of the tank as well.