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Heaven Is for Real

Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.

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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…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* 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.

#182 August 28, 2013

Sheila writes: Thank you all for taking the time to answer our survey! We will keep you posted on any changes that may come about. So let's get to the newsletter, shall we? Jack Kerouac famously wrote the majority of "On the Road" on one long scroll of paper. Kerouac found that taking the time to remove the finished pages off of the typewriter and replacing them with a fresh sheet interrupted his flow. California artist Paul Rogers, who has done ten book covers for Random House UK of Hemingway classic, has created an online scroll of beautiful illustrations for Kerouac's novel. Evocative and gritty, they make a great companion piece for "On the Road". You can see more of Paul Rogers' cool work at his site.

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A little black dress makes the world go round

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With the passing of Andy Williams, I keep imagining his golden tenor singing Henry Mancini's "Moon River." The song talks about crossing life in style. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is all about fashionable cafe society and love; in an adult fairy tale, you can have both even if you are two drifters.

The director Gregory Nava once commented, "Whenever any question of style or taste in dress comes up, I simply ask myself, 'What would Fred Astaire have done?'" Audrey Hepburn is Astaire's female equivalent: sophistication mixed with fizzy fun.

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#138 October 17, 2012

Marie writes: the ever intrepid Sandy Khan recently sent me a link to ArtDaily where I discovered "Hollywood Unseen" - a new book of photographs featuring some of Hollywood's biggest stars, to published November 16, 2012."Gathered together for the first time, Hollywood Unseen presents photographs that seemingly show the 'ordinary lives' of tinseltown's biggest stars, including Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. In reality, these "candid' images were as carefully constructed and prepared as any classic portrait or scene-still. The actors and actresses were portrayed exactly as the studios wanted them to be seen, whether in swim suits or on the golf course, as golden youth or magic stars of Hollywood."You can freely view a large selection of images from the book by visiting Getty Images Gallery: Hollywood Unseen which is exhibiting them online.

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#126 August 1, 2012

Marie writes: As I'm sure readers are aware, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London are now underway!  Meanwhile, the opening ceremony by Danny Boyle continues to solicit comments; both for against. (Click image to enlarge.)

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#106 March 14, 2012

Marie writes: It's official. I have died and gone to heaven. For here below, as part of an ongoing series exploring Britain's architectural wonders, the Observer's architecture critic Rowan Moore, introduces a spectacular interactive 360-degree panoramic photograph of "The grand staircase in the St Pancras Renaissance hotel" - which I regard as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have ever seen. I adore this building and always will; it's the stuff of dreams. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Go here to explore a 360 panoramic view of the grand staircase!

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John Huston's "Beat The Devil"

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The Ebert Club is pleased to share the following Film Noir cult classic, streaming free. I invite you to join the Club and dive into an eclectic assortment of wonderful and curious finds. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on my site. - RE"The movie has above all effortless charm. Once we catch on that nothing much is going to happen, we can relax and share the amusement of the actors, who are essentially being asked to share their playfulness. There is a scene on a veranda overlooking the sea, where Bogart and Jones play out their first flirtation, and by the end of their dialogue you can see they're all but cracking up; Bogart grins during the dissolve. The whole movie feels that way. Now that movies have become fearsome engines designed to hammer us with entertainment, it is nice to recall those that simply wanted to be witty company." - Roger, from his Great Movies review of "Beat the Devil".Beat The Devil (1953) Directed by John Huston. Co-written by John Huston and Truman Capote. Loosely based upon a novel of the same name by British journalist and critic Claud Cockburn; pseudonym James Helvick. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre, Robert Morley, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli, Bernard Lee and Saro Urzì.Synopsis: A quartet of international crooks - Peterson, O'Hara, Ross and Ravello - is stranded in Italy while their steamer is being repaired. With them are the Dannreuthers. The six are headed for Africa, presumably to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to buy land supposedly loaded with uranium. They're joined by others who apparently have similar designs. It was intended by Huston as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of his earlier masterpiece, "The Maltese Falcon" and the noir genre in general.

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#95 December 28, 2011

Marie writes: some of you may recall reading about the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. (Click to enlarge.)

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#48 February 2, 2011

Take a breath and be brave. Very, very brave.... smile....Behold the "Willis Tower" in Chicago (formerly the Sears Tower) - the tallest building in North America and its famous attraction, The Skydeck.  In January 2009, the Willis Tower owners began a major renovation of the Skydeck, to include the installation of glass balconies, extending approximately four feet over Wacker Drive from the 103rd floor. The all-glass boxes allow visitors to look directly through the floor to the street 1,353 feet (412 m) below. The boxes, which can bear five short tons of weight (about 4.5 metric tons), opened to the public on July 2, 2009.

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Intimate connections

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The Self-Styled Siren (aka Farran Smith Nehme) makes no apologies for her passion for pre-1960s movies. In a particularly lovely piece called "Intimacy at the Movies" she examines the mysterious forces behind her "old-movie habit." You see, the New York Film Festival was in October, and the Siren devoted herself to catching some of the big cinephiliac treasures of the fall, like Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cannes-winning "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," Raoul Ruiz's "Mysteries of Lisbon"... and she loved them, but...

Sometime around the two-week mark the withdrawal became too much and I posted on Facebook and Twitter that I was going to dig up a pre-1960 movie and watch it to the last frame. Maybe some followers thought I was being cute about how much I needed to do this. I was as serious as "All Quiet on the Western Front."

And I watched "Ivy" [Sam Wood, 1947; starring Joan Fontaine and Herbert Marshall]. And it was good. So good I started to wonder if this was simple addiction. It did feel uncomfortably like I was one of those people who went to sleep in Shreveport and woke up in Abilene. "Come on, Oscar nominee from 1934, let's you and me get drunk." But surely nobody ever wound up in rehab because they couldn't stop quoting Bette Davis movies. I can, in fact, stop anytime I like. Don't look at me like that. I have a Netflix copy of "Zodiac" right there on my dressing table, you just can't see it because it's under the eyeshadow palette. I've had it three weeks and haven't watched it yet, but I'm telling you I could watch it right now if I felt like it and if my daughter weren't already downstairs watching the 1940 "Blue Bird." I just don't want to. I'll watch "Zodiac" this weekend. Right now I need to keep watching old movies, I have too much else going on to quit something that isn't harming me anyway. Hey, did anybody else notice some benevolent soul has posted "Hold Back the Dawn" on Youtube?

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100 Great Moments in the Movies

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Roger Ebert / April 23, 1995

For the centennial of cinema, 100 great moments from the movies:

Clark Gable in "Gone With the Wind":

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Buster Keaton standing perfectly still while the wall of a house falls over upon him; he is saved by being exactly placed for an open window.

Charlie Chaplin being recognized by the little blind girl in "City Lights."

The computer Hal 9000 reading lips, in "2001: a Space Odyssey."

The singing of "La Marseillaise" in "Casablanca."

Snow White kissing Dopey Bashful on the head.

John Wayne putting the reins in his mouth in "True Grit" and galloping across the mountain meadow, weapons in both hands.

Jimmy Stewart in "Vertigo," approaching Kim Novak across the room, realizing she embodies all of his obsessions - better than he knows.

The early film experiment proving that horses do sometimes have all four hoofs off the ground.

Gene Kelly singin' in the rain.

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta discuss what they call Quarter Pounders in France, in "Pulp Fiction."

The Man in the Moon getting a cannon shell in his eye, in the Melies film "A Voyage to the Moon."

Pauline in peril, tied to the railroad tracks.

A boy running joyously to greet his returning father, in "Sounder."

Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock face in "Safety Last."

Orson Welles smiling enigmatically in the doorway in "The Third Man."

An angel looking down sadly over Berlin, in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire."

The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination: Over and over again, a moment frozen in time.

A homesick North African, sadly telling a hooker that what he really wants is not sex but couscous, in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Fear Eats the Soul: Ali."

Wile E. Coyote, suspended in air.

Zero Mostel throwing a cup of cold coffee at the hysterical Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' "The Producers," and Wilder screaming: "I'm still hysterical! Plus, now I'm wet!"

An old man all alone in his home, faced with the death of his wife and the indifference of his children, in Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story."

"Smoking." Robert Mitchum's response, holding up his cigarette, when Kirk Douglas offers him a smoke in "Out of the Past."

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg wading in the fountain in "La Dolce Vita."

The moment in Akira Kurosawa's "High and Low" when a millionaire discovers that it was not his son who was kidnapped, but his chauffeur's son - and then the eyes of the two fathers meet.

The distant sight of people appearing over the horizon at the end of "Schindler's List."

R2D2 and C3PO in "Star Wars."

E.T. and friend riding their bicycle across the face of the moon.

Marlon Brando's screaming "Stella!" in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Hannibal Lecter smiling at Clarise in "The Silence of the Lambs."

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain't heard nothin' yet!" The first words heard in the first talkie, "The Jazz Singer," said by Al Jolson.

Jack Nicholson trying to order a chicken salad sandwich in "Five Easy Pieces."

"Nobody's perfect": Joe E. Brown's last line in "Some Like It Hot," explaining to Tony Curtis why he plans to marry Jack Lemmon even though he is a man.

"Rosebud."

The shooting party in Renoir's "Rules of the Game."

The haunted eyes of Antoine Doinel, Truffaut's autobiographical hero, in the freeze frame that ends "The 400 Blows."

Jean-Paul Belmondo flipping a cigarette into his mouth in Godard's "Breathless."

The casting of the great iron bell in Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev."

"What have you done to its eyes?" Dialogue by Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby."

Moses parting the Red Sea in "The Ten Commandments."

An old man found dead in a child's swing, his mission completed, at the end of Kurosawa's "Ikiru."

The haunted eyes of the actress Maria Falconetti in Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc."

The children watching the train pass by in Ray's "Pather Panchali."

The baby carriage bouncing down the steps in Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin."

"Are you lookin' at me?" Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver."

"My father made them an offer they couldn't refuse:" Al Pacino in "The Godfather."

The mysterious body in the photographs in Antonioni's "Blow-Up."

"One word, Benjamin: plastics." From "The Graduate."

A man dying in the desert in von Stroheim's "Greed."

Eva Marie Saint clinging to Cary Grant's hand on Mt. Rushmore in "North by Northwest."

Astaire and Rogers dancing.

"There ain't no sanity clause!" Chico to Groucho in "A Night at the Opera."

"They call me Mr. Tibbs." Sidney Poitier in Norman Jewison's "In the Heat of the Night."

The sadness of the separated lovers in Jean Vigo's "L'Atalante."

The vast expanse of desert, and then tiny figures appearing, in "Lawrence of Arabia."

Jack Nicholson on the back of the motorcycle, wearing a football helmet, in "Easy Rider."

The geometrical choreography of the Busby Berkeley girls.

The peacock spreading its tail feathers in the snow, in Fellini's "Amarcord."

Robert Mitchum in "Night of the Hunter," with "LOVE" tattooed on the knuckles of one hand, and "HATE" on the other.

Joan Baez singing "Joe Hill" in "Woodstock."

Robert De Niro's transformation from sleek boxer to paunchy nightclub owner in "Raging Bull."

Bette Davis: "Fasten your seat belts; it's gonna be a bumpy night!" in "All About Eve."

"That spider is as big as a Buick!" Woody Allen in "Annie Hall."

The chariot race in "Ben-Hur."

Barbara Harris singing "It Don't Worry Me" to calm a panicked crowd in Robert Altman's "Nashville."

The game of Russian roulette in "The Deer Hunter."

Chase scenes: "The French Connection," "Bullitt," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Diva."

The shadow of the bottle hidden in the light fixture, in "The Lost Weekend."

"I coulda been a contender." Brando in "On the Waterfront."

George C. Scott's speech about the enemy in "Patton:" "We're going to go through him like crap through a goose."

Rocky Balboa running up the steps and pumping his hand into the air, with all of Philadelphia at his feet.

Debra Winger saying goodbye to her children in "Terms of Endearment."

The montage of the kissing scenes in "Cinema Paradiso."

The dinner guests who find they somehow cannot leave, in Bunuel's "The Exterminating Angel."

A knight plays chess with Death, in Bergman's "The Seventh Seal."

The savage zeal of the Klansmen in Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation."

The problem of the door that won't stay closed, in Jacques Tati's "Mr. Hulot's Holiday."

"I'm still big! It's the pictures that got small!" Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard."

"We're a long way from Kansas!" Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz."

An overhead shot beginning with an entrance hall, and ending with a closeup of a key in Ingrid Bergman's hand, in Hitchcock's "Notorious."

"There ain't much meat on her, but what's there is choice." Spencer Tracy about Katharine Hepburn in "Pat and Mike."

The day's outing of the mental patients in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

"I always look well when I'm near death." Greta Garbo to Robert Taylor in "Camille."

"It took more than one night to change my name to Shanghai Lily." Marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express."

"I'm walkin' here!" Dustin Hoffman in "Midnight Cowboy."

W.C. Fields flinching as a prop man hurls handfuls of fake snow into his face in "The Fatal Glass of Beer."

"The next time you got nothin' to do, and lots of time to do it, come up and see me." Mae West in "My Little Chickadee."

"Top o' the world, Ma!" James Cagney in "White Heat."

Richard Burton exploding when Elizabeth Taylor reveals their "secret" in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Henry Fonda getting his hair cut in "My Darling Clementine."

"Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" Alfonso Bedoya to Humphrey Bogart in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

"There's your dog. Your dog's dead. But there had to be something that made it move. Doesn't there?" Line from Errol Morris' "Gates of Heaven."

"Don't touch the suit!" Burt Lancaster in "Atlantic City."

Gena Rowlands arrives at John Cassavetes' house with a taxicab full of adopted animals, in "Love Streams."

"I want to live again. I want to live again. I want to live again. Please God, let me live again." Jimmy Stewart to the angel in "It's a Wonderful Life."

Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr embrace on the beach in "From Here to Eternity."

Mookie throws the trash can through the window of Sal's Pizzeria, in "Do the Right Thing."

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning," dialogue by Robert Duvall, in "Apocalypse Now."

"Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above." Katharine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen."

"Mother of mercy. Is this the end of Rico?" Edward G. Robinson in "Little Caesar."

☑ Click to expand. Comments are open.

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#21 July 28, 2010

Attention Ebert Club Members and fellow would-be chefs....drum roll... Marie writes: At long last, the highly anticipated "The Pot and How to Use it" is set for release! Containing numerous and surprisingly varied recipes for electric rice cookers, it is much more than a cookbook. Originating from Roger's 2008 Nov. blog entry, it includes readers' comments and recipes along side the Grand Poobah's own discerning insights and observations on why and how we cook. 128 pages, paperback format. Sept 21, 2010 release date. Available now for pre-order at Amazon at a discount.

(Click image to enlarge)Chaz visits Roger in the kitchen as he demonstrates the correct way to use the Pot. First, and this is very important; you need to remove the lid... :-)

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Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a friend have been debating about my qualities as a film critic, and they've involved a considerable critic, Dan Schneider, in their discussion. I will say that he has given the question a surprising amount of thought and attention over the years, and may well be correct in some aspects. What his analysis gives me is a renewed respect and curiosity about his own work.

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Dead of (Election) Night: Terrifying tales of campaign narratives run amok!

Skeletons in the closet! Bats in the belfry! Wolves in sheep's clothing! Pit bull-barracudas in Neiman Marcus clothing! Flying pigs in lipstick bursting forth from unlicensed plumbing fixtures! Befitting the sinister tone of season (political and scary), David Bordwell has published a brilliant essay he calls "It was a dark and stormy campaign," in which he examines the concept of "narrative," as it has come to be used in film and campaign circles. This is essential reading:

Clearly the presidential candidates have come to believe that what seizes the public aren't just policy views and promises. Now the campaigns want to tell stories in which the candidates are the protagonists. The life of Barack Obama, or Joe Biden, or Sarah Palin is said to be a story (usually "an American story"). According to Robert Draper's influential recent article ["The Making (and Remaking) of McCain"], John McCain's campaign has deliberately set out a series of "narratives": McCain endures suffering in Hanoi as a POW; he enters politics and fights for reform in government. Mark Salter, McCain's staff member and coauthor, has the responsibility of stitching incidents of the Senator's career into what he calls the "metanarrative" of McCain's life--rather as George Lucas presides over the Bible of the "Star Wars" universe.

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Beauties in black and white

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Q. You asked if readers raised on color had any thoughts on the B&W issue. I was born in 1971, and the worlds of television and cinema were fully in color. I grew up "hating" black and white, and dismissed it as something that was only used because there was no better option. In my teenage years, I saw two films that used black and white when color was readily available, and it worked exceptionally well: Woody Allen's "Manhattan," and David Lynch's "Eraserhead." These films convinced me that black and white is beautiful, and can help in the creation of mood and theme (although Lynch might have done "Eraserhead" in B&W for financial reasons).

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What we think we think we know (about movies)

"Have you seen her? Tell me have you seen her?" (Chi-Lites, 1971)

Some movies evoke strong opinions and some leave barely a trace behind in your memory. When I glance back at the deadline reviews I've been filing for the Chicago Sun-Times and RogerEbert.com the past few weeks, I notice that most of the movies haven't made much of an impression on me. Ask me right now and I couldn't tell you what I reviewed two weeks ago, much less what's coming up two weeks from now, without calling up iCal. I'm always amazed at how Roger does what he does -- which is way more than I feel capable of doing.

If you want to judge by the obligatory "star ratings" (and I don't, but in this case I think they reflect something), just about everything in the last month (I know: February) feels like a 2.5 to me -- just short of "recommended" (which would be 3.0), but not unwatchable if you wanted to pay the money and kill the time it takes to watch it. Passable (B-/C+) for what it is, but not memorable -- especially when you consider that the scale tops out at 4.0, with no "A+" possible. So, "Chinatown": 4 stars. "Sansho the Bailiff": 4 stars. "The Bank Job": 2.5. "Cocktail": 0.0.

We all have a pretty good what kind of experience we had watching a movie (though it may take a while, maybe even another viewing, to process it), and what we saw and heard. But to paraphrase something a filmmaker recently said (or that I recently read, even though I can't recall who or where): If you put 300 people in a room and show them a movie, you'll get 300 different accounts of it. Even when I take notes (as I do when I know I'm going to write about a movie), I invariably misremember a word here, a shot there.

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Shocking! Attend the hair of Sweeney Todd

View image Johnny Depp as Tim Burton and Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

"[Director Tim Burton] saw the picture as an homage to old Universal horror flicks ('Frankenstein,' 'The Black Cat'), creepy silent-film melodramas (any number of Lon Chaney spine-tinglers), and Hammer horror films (pulpy fare from the '50s and '60s). Both Burton and Depp say there are major nods to Peter Lorre's 'Mad Love' performance in Sweeney. Oh, and that shock of white in Depp's hair? A sign of Todd's trauma — and possibly a nod to Humphrey Bogart's skunk stripe in his lone horror picture, 'The Return of Dr. X.,' a Burton favorite. (Plus Depp says he's got a nephew with a white streak.)" -- Entertainment Weekly (November 9, 2007)

"Mr. Depp’s Sweeney isn’t a regular guy either. With a Susan Sontag patch of white streaking his pompadour, ghostly skin and distraught eyes, this Sweeney is both wretched and mad." -- The New York Times (November 4, 2007)

View image Humphrey Bogart in "The Return of Dr. X" looks more like Edward Scissorhands to me. It's the lips.

Bulletin: Johnny Depp plays the title role in a Tim Burton film version of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" -- and he's not a regular guy! In fact, he's "both wretched and mad," which (from the way the Times reports it) must be an entirely new take on the character. The Demon Barber, that is. Bet Sondheim wishes he'd thought of that.

But what of that mysterious shock of white hair that leaves the Times and EW writers stretching for an antecedent? Bogart in "Dr. X"? Sure, OK. Susan Sontag? Somebody needs to get out of New York more often. Hey, why not JoBeth Williams in the latter part of "Poltergeist"?

View image The late Susan Sontag, The Demonized Intellectual of 9/11.

You know there's a pretty obvious one that a fan of James Whale's "Frankenstein" and its sequel could not help but recognize, if only because it's the most famous streak of white hair in all of movie history...

(All will be revealed after the jump...)

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Telluride #3: Mickey in the limelight

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TELLURIDE, Colo. – It is the longest career in the history of show businesses. Mickey Rooney first appeared on stage when he was 17 months old. He made his first movie in 1925, when he was five, and on Friday night there he was on the stage of the Sheridan Opera House at the Telluride Film Festival, telling stores, doing imitations, singing the song he wrote when Judy Garland died, and then joining his wife in a duet of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”

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