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Atlantics

It’s unlike few other movies you’ll see this year or possibly this decade.

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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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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.

#351 April 2, 2019

Matt writes: The full line-up for our 21st annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival (a.k.a. Ebertfest), running Wednesday, April 10th, through Saturday, April 13th, is now available on RogerEbert.com. We are dedicating the festival this year to the memory of one of our favorite actors and frequent guests, Scott Wilson, whose great 1984 film "A Year of the Quiet Sun" is among the selections. We also look forward to celebrating the longtime on-air partnership Roger had with Richard Roeper, who will be on hand for two special screenings, as well as the legacy of "Rachel Getting Married" director Jonathan Demme.

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#345 January 8, 2019

Matt writes: In our first Ebert Club newsletter of 2019, I am joining my publisher Chaz Ebert, editors Brian Tallerico and Matt Zoller Seitz, and fellow assistant editors Nick Allen and Nell Minow in wishing you a Happy New Year!

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#339 October 16, 2018

Matt writes: Scott Wilson (1942-2018) may be best known to modern viewers for his work on "The Walking Dead," yet his great screen career spanned several decades and included numerous memorable performances. His first two films, both released in 1967, proved to be classics: "In the Heat of the Night" and "In Cold Blood." He earned a Golden Globe nomination for acting opposite Stacy Keach in William Peter Blatty's 1980 horror offering, "The Ninth Configuration," and went on to be featured in unforgettable pictures such as "The Right Stuff," "Dead Man Walking" and "Junebug."

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Why we love zombies

I made a wisecrack recently that, as far as I can tell, the zombies on AMC's "The Walking Dead" are metaphors for zombies. (Fortunately the show has the sense to hire guest stars like my friend Scott Wilson to add a human dimension to the endless splatter.) Another wise and talented friend, Kathleen Murphy, wrote something about the undying appeal -- and flesh-creeping significance -- of zombies a few years back that, unfortunately, can no longer be found on the web. But she was kind enough to send me the introduction ("It's alive!"), which I happily resurrect from the abyss for you here. Dig in:

Back to back, belly to belly I don't give a damn, I done dead already Oho back to back, belly to belly At the Zombie Jamboree

by Kathleen Murphy

In the hierarchy of horror movies, zombies usually come in dead last, behind glam monsters like vampires and demons, witches and werewolves. Ambulatory corpses are rarely pleasant to look at, and it's devilishly difficult to project personality through all that putrefaction, what with your fleshy bits constantly dropping off. Mostly zombies just shamble and chomp, activity that falls somewhat short of the meat-and-potatoes of high-class drama. 

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Blackie come home

Every time I see a dog in a movie, I think the same thing: I want that dog. I see Skip or Lucy or Shiloh and for a moment I can't even think about the movie's plot. I can only think about the dog. I want to hold it, pet it, take it for walks, and tell it what a good dog it is. I want to love it, and I want it to love me. I have an empty space inside myself that can only be filled by a dog.

Not a cat. I have had cats and I was fond of them, fonder than they ever were of me. But what I want is unconditional love, and therefore I want a dog. I want to make its life a joy. I want to scratch behind its ears, and on its belly when it rolls over. I want to gently extend its tail so the dog can tell it's a fine tail indeed. I want to give it a shampoo, and sneak it bites from the table, and let it exchange the news with other dogs we meet on the street. I want it to bark at the doorbell, be joyous to see my loved ones, shake hands, and look concerned if I seem depressed. If I throw a ball I want the dog to bring back the ball and ask me to throw it again.

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Siskel & Ebert at the Jugular

What does it feel like to resemble the Phantom of the Opera? You learn to live with it. I've never concerned myself overmuch about how I looked. I got a lot of practice at indifference during my years as the Michelin Man.

Yes, years before I acquired my present problems, I was not merely fat, but was universally known as "the fat one," to distinguish me from "the thin one," who was Gene Siskel, who was not all that thin, but try telling that to Gene:

"Spoken like the gifted Haystacks Calhoun tribute artist that you are."

"Haystacks was loved by his fans as a charming country boy," I observed.

"Six hundred and forty pounds of rompin' stompin' charm," Gene said. "Oh, Rog? Are those two-tone suedes, or did you step in some chicken shit?"

The real Phantom: Lon Chaney in 1925

"You can borrow them whenever you wear your white John Travolta disco suit from 'Saturday Night Fever,'" I said.

"Yeah, when are you gonna wear it on the show?" asked Buzz the floor director. "Enquiring minds want to know."

"He wanted to wear it today," I said, "but it's still at the tailor shop having the crotch taken in."

"Ba-ba-ba-boom !" said Buzz.

"Here's an item that will interest you, Roger," Gene told me one day, paging through the Sun-Times, his favorite paper, during a lull in the taping of our show. We taped in CBS Chicago's Studio One, home of the Kennedy-Nixon debate.

"It says here, the Michelin Man has been arrested in a fast food court in Hawaii for attempting to impersonate the Pillsbury Dough Boy."

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You wild, beautiful thing. You crazy handful of nothin'

That's the hard-boiled Dragline, speaking of Cool Hand Luke.

After she read my obituary of Paul Newman, my wife Chaz asked me, "Why didn't you write more about his acting?" She was right. Why didn't I? I've been asking myself that. Maybe I was trying to tell myself something. I think it was this: I never really thought of him as an actor. I regarded him more as an embodiment, an evocation, of something. And I think that something was himself. He seemed above all a deeply good man, who freed himself to live life fully and joyfully, and used his success as a way to follow his own path, and to help others.

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