We at ScienceFiction.com are all sad to acknowledge the passing of Roger Ebert, one of the best and most well-known film critics in the industry. With thousands of published reviews, a dozen books on film and, perhaps most famously, the PBS film review show Siskel & Ebert that aired for many years, Roger will be missed for his witty reviews and insightful commentary.
What most people don’t know about Roger is that he was far more involved in the movie industry than as a critic. In fact, he’s been a writer, producer, and even been recorded commentary tracks on a number of DVDs you might well have on your shelf.
His writing credits included Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens and even the 1976 film Up! which has the following epic plot summary:
[The film] kicks off with the murder of one Adolf Schwartz (who bears a striking resemblance to another famous Adolf) by placing a ravenous piranha fish in his bathtub. Who did it? No-one knows or cares, as they’re too busy being distracted by busty Margo Winchester, who hitchhikes into town and gets involved with all the local men. It all ends with a series of complicated plot twists that reveal that just about everyone is really someone else. And if it gets too confusing, Russ Meyer helpfully arranges for a one- woman nude Greek chorus to pop up at intervals to explain what’s going on.
Yes, Roger definitely had a sense of humor, as further demonstrated by the number of odd films and documentaries he appears in, films with titles like Sex at 24 Frames Per Second, Searching for Debra Winger, Junket Whore, The People vs. George Lucas, Mysteries of Love, Reel Black Love and, my personal favorite, a small appearance in Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.
Finally, Roger’s ten favorite films of all time, in alphabetical order: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Floating Weeds, Gates of Heaven, La Dolce Vita, Notorious, Raging Bull, The Third Man, 28 Up, and easily one of the most profound science fiction films of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
We’ll miss you, Roger. Enjoy the early matinees in heaven.