In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_ylxcdc106ikiarfthkcacasaacb

La La Land

This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other.

Thumb_jackie

Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Cast and Crew

* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#141 November 7, 2012

Marie writes: "let's see what happens if I tickle him with my stick..."(Photo by Daniel Botelho. Click image to enlarge.)

Continue reading →

"Avenge me! AVENGE ME!"

Primary_the-avengers-thumb-510x286-47025

Although I generally find it difficult to care about superheroes and the movies that franchise them, I liked Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series -- a lot -- so, if I go to see his Marvel Comics packaging-event "The Avengers," it will be because of him and not so much because of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or Nick Fury. (I should also say I'm intrigued by the idea of Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk and, like everybody else, I got a kick out of Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man," too.)

Yes, I know I wrote a piece on taking superhero movies seriously back in 2008, but neither the movies nor their fans have shown much interest in doing that. Instead, these movies have become mere team sports (like American politics), pep-rally occasions for fans to cheer and sneer, in person or online. (There's another essay to be written on the fratty/bully co-optation of geek culture, perhaps...) So, A.O. Scott gives "The Avengers" a measured review in the New York Times ("Superheroes, Super Battles, Super Egos") and Super Ego Superhero Samuel L. Jackson strikes back with a tweet: "#Avengers fans,NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let's help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!"

Continue reading →

Before "Airplane!" there were the Airport movies

May Contain Spoilers

There's nothing quite like the movies if you want to learn what people's hopes and dreams were during the period in which they were made. Take for instance the recent "Up in the Air". In the present when air travel has turned into something to be endured, George Clooney's Ryan Bingham showed us how it can become an enticing way of life. The same subject was also portrayed extensively, under a very different light, some forty years as the "Airport" movies dealt with our fears of dying in new and horrible ways, while glamorizing our dreams of flying first-class, surrounded by a movie star in every seat. As the trailer for one of these features once put it: "on board, a collection of the rich and the beautiful!" They also marked the advent of a new genre (the Disaster Film) as well as the "Ark movie" which Ebert's Little Movie Glossary defines as "mixed bag of characters trapped in a colorful mode of transportation". How many films can claim to this kind of impact?

Continue reading →

The Duke on Rooster: "My first good part in 20 years"

Primary__20_20_20john-thumb-350x519-28429

By Roger EbertDecember 8th, 1968

Hollywood, California -- Over in a comer of the big sound stage, John Wayne was playing chess. He was leaning against a packing crate and studying the board in complete oblivion to the commotion Henry Hathaway was raising 10 yards away.

Hathaway got into the movie business as a juvenile in 1908 and has been directing action and Western pictures since 1918. His directing style remains unchanged; he gets excited about three times a day and starts shouting at people. But he has white hair and looks gentle, as opposed to Otto Preminger, who has no hair and looks dangerous, and so Hathaway is known as a terror but regarded with affection.

Just now he was haranguing a group of extras who were supposed to be a courtroom crowd. "You're all waiting for the other fellow to sit down," he was saying. "Now it's clear as day that some of you have got to sit down before the rest of you do. So when the judge comes in, don't everybody stand around with his hands in his pockets." His tone was that of an eminently reasonable ship's captain addressing a cargo of madmen in the hold. "Now let's try it."

"Here we go," Wayne said. He plays the part of Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit," a Western comedy, adventure, satire or what-have-you based on the best-seller by Charles Portis. The press releases describe Rooster as a mean, ornery, one-eyed, no-good, low-down rapscallion, and Wayne obviously enjoys the part. He took another look at the chess board, decided not to move until the scene had been shot, got up and moseyed over to the set.

It turned out that the light men hadn't arranged the lights to their satisfaction, so Hathaway decreed a 10-minute break and Wayne walked back off the set, pushing his eye-patch up on his forehead.

"This is, oh, maybe the fifth or sixth picture I've made with. Hathaway," Wayne recalled. "Every director has his own way of handling actors. John Ford, now, had a rapier wit and if he wanted to zing somebody he'd hit 'em quick and pull back. Henry, on the other hand, uses a club."

What was the last picture by Wayne and Hathaway?

"Let's see. That would be 'Sons of Katie Elder.' I don't care for it much, myself. I had just got over that cancer operation and I thought I could hear myself breathing all the time. Everybody said it was my imagination. Well, old Henry was very thoughtful of me, of course, since I was recuperating and all. He took me up to 8,500 feet to shoot the damned thing and the fourth day of shooting he had me jumping into ice water. Very considerate."

Wayne chuckled. "All the same, give Hathaway a good story, and that's what 'True Grit' is, and he's great. He's not so good on his own stories; I found that out. He can't quite get objective about them. But I love this story. I tried to buy the rights and then I found out Hal Wallis was bidding on it. Between us we pushed the price clear to the sky, and then Wallis got it and cast me anyway."

The story involves a spunky little frontier girl (played by Kim Darby) who sets off to avenge her father's murder and hires Rooster as her paid gunman. Glen Campbell, the hot young country singer and TV host, makes his screen debut in the film as a Texas Ranger.

"The picture's got to make a bundle," Wayne said. "And for a change I have a good part. I'd say this is my first good part in 20 years."

There were protests from Wayne's listeners. "Well," he said, "what the hell has there been? I'm always the straight guy who heaves the pack up on his back shouts, 'Follow me!' Everybody else in picture gets to have funny little scenes, clever lines, but I'm the hero so I stand there.

"Howard Hawks worked out a whole system based on that. He'd just stand me up as a target and run everybody at me. 'EI Dorado,' that was just a remake of an earlier picture by Hawks, 'Rio Bravo.' And in both pictures you had Robert Mitchum or Dean Martin as the drunken sheriff, and you had the old deputy and the young kid, and where did that leave me?

"And in that picture, Who Killed What's-His-Name? Yeah, the John Ford picture: 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.' They had Lee Marvin as the colorful heavy, and that young Irish fellow playing the intellectual, and Andy Devine playing the best friend, and Jimmy Stewart to get a laugh kicking the horse crap out of his way, and what was left? Try to wind your way through that one..."

Wayne said he was talking in professional terms. "What I mean is, I haven't been short of good roles in terms of starring roles, but I've gotten damn few roles you could get your teeth into and develop a character. Until Rooster in 'True Grit,' I haven't had a role like that since 'The Searchers' (1956). And before that, maybe 'Sgt. Stryker' or 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,' another great Ford picture.

"But look at 'The Quiet Man.' Everybody was a character but me. For three fourths of the movie, I had to keep alive just walking through it. Those are the tough ones to do. At least in 'Rio Bravo,' I had a couple of gags in addition to furnishing the father image."

He unwrapped some peanut brittle and took a bite. "And old Rooster is going to be a lovely role. When this picture's over I got to go to work and get some of this weight off." He grinned. "But it's pretty nice playing a fat old man."

Hathaway walked over, slapped Wayne on the shoulder, and said, "All right then, Duke, let's get to work. Always assuming, of course, that I can get those damn fools to sit down when the judge comes in."

"Heah come de judge," said Wayne.

Some 200 of my TwitterPages are linked at the right. var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname = "Roger Ebert's Journal"; a2a_config.linkurl = "http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/"; a2a_config.num_services = 8;

Continue reading →

March 13, 2010

May Contain Spoilers

Welcome club members.

This is intended as an oasis in the melee of the web, where we can gather. Who are we? We are you, and the friendships that have formed in the nearly two years I've been doing my blog. You don't need to be told that you are a remarkable group, an astonishment to those who are accustomed to the usual web discussion forums. • • • Speaking of forums, we have opened our Private Club Thread. Needless to say, it will defeat the purpose of the thread if you share the link outside the Club.

Continue reading →

Sherman Torgan: In Memory

The New Beverly Cinema. Where else would "The Tenant" receive top billing over "Rosemary's Baby"? (Photo by Dennis Cozzalio)

Sherman Torgan, 63, the owner and operator of my old neighborhood repertory movie house, the New Beverly Cinema, died of a heart attack while bike riding in Santa Monica. The New Beverly, on Beverly Blvd. between Formosa and Detroit, was the source of many happy movie memories for me, especially during the late 1980s and early 1990s when I lived nearby, at Oakwood and Sierra Bonita.

According to the New Beverly's own site, the place was a vaudeville theater and then the original location of Slapsie Maxie's nightclub, where Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made their West Coast debut. For nine years it was an adult movie theater (The Eros), until Torgan took it over and turned it into a movie-lover's rep house in 1978.

Torgan's son Michael posted a message on the theater's site today that reads, in part: Due to the sudden and completely unexpected passing of my dear beloved father Sherman, the New Beverly's programming will be cancelled until further notice.

Sherman was my father and my best friend, and his passing has left me and my family completely devastated. He was the main force behind the New Beverly from May 5, 1978 until the present. I simply do not know when I will be able to fill his shoes. My pain and sorrow are truly too much to bear right now. He was still so young and full of life, and was doing what he loved so much, riding his bike on the Santa Monica bike path, when he died. My mom and I are in utter shock. For background and updates, please visit Dennis Cozzalio's Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

Continue reading →

`Bringing out' Scorsese

Martin Scorsese's new movie, "Bringing Out the Dead," is one of his best. That means a lot when you are arguably the greatest active American director. The film, which opens Friday, stars Nicolas Cage as a paramedic whose runs through Hell's Kitchen are like a bus route through Dante's Inferno.

Continue reading →

Frank Sinatra's legend lives on in films

When the book of 20th century popular entertainment is written, Frank Sinatra will get a chapter as the best singer of his time. As an actor, he will be remembered for the good films, and for a distinctive screen persona as a guy who could win a heart with a song.

Continue reading →

Jerry Lewis: "The King of Comedy"

Primary_eb19830509people110319989ar

Cannes, France -- "I had left," Jerry Lewis was explaining. "I was gone for about two minutes. The heart goes into what they call v-tach." He demonstrated, clenching his fist. "It gets half-way closed and it freezes. I was dead and this lovely black nurse came and hit me a Larry Holmes shot to the chest and brought me back. Then I went into a state of fear."

Continue reading →

Muhammad Ali: The Actor

Hollywood, California – Up on the Sunset Strip, the giant billboards march from Hollywood to Beverly Hills. They average 1,200 square feet in size – gigantic outdoor pop art monuments to Donna Summers and the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and “Grease."

Continue reading →

In Memory: Howard Hawks

When Howard Hawks came to visit the Chicago Film Festival in 1968, they asked Charles Flynn to get up on the stage and introduce him. And Flynn, who was helping to run Doc Films at the University of Chicago at the time, gave an introduction that was so simple in its eloquence that I remembered it the other day, when I learned Hawks had died.

Continue reading →

Interview with Thomas Tryon

Where is the piece, the editor wanted to know, about Thomas Tryon? I knew where it was, but I wasn't telling. It was in that dark and musty cupboard of my mind where I keep all those articles which (a) I hope never to write and (b) which would be mean and nasty if I ever did. When Ingmar Bergman was a bad little boy, his father would lock him in a closet and tell him there were things in there that would bite off his toes. My cupboard is the same.

Continue reading →