From Aaron Cutler, Philadelphia, PA:
It all started with the Great Movies for me; I was a fledgeling seventh-grader who had heard that "The Godfather" was worth seeing, and I looked for reviews to back this up. Needless to say there were plenty, but Roger Ebert's stuck with me, and I read others and others and saw that he was right about them all. There were the famous titles -- "The Wizard of Oz," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Chinatown" -- and then the less familiar ones, like "The Man Who Laughs" or "My Darling Clementine," which I hadn't heard of before but came to love equally to the others, if not more.
I spent an entire summer once watching all the Great Movies; it took a lot of time and a lot of video rentals, but I got through them. I had become addicted to film; I had always loved literature and theater, and something in me craved this third, most novel way of telling stories. I had seen a lot of movies before I read Roger Ebert, but he made me appreciate them in a way that I hadn't before, using wit, savvy and genuine intelligence to help me strike at the core of each new title that I watched. I'm not saying that I understood them all, only that Roger Ebert encouraged me to try, and after I had gotten through the Great Movies I turned -- as indeed he urged -- to other movies, with similar directors, similar actors and similar themes. I learned very quickly that there are a lot of great movies out there, and I'm still learning that lesson to this day. I have lived a rich life in love with the movies, and I have Mr. Ebert's phenomenal commentaries to thank for my discovering them. I owe my life to you, Mr. Ebert; without you countless hours of it would have slipped away. Thank you for showing me the magic of the movies, and please get well soon, so that others may encounter that very same magic. I hope you feel better.