Picks and Pans Review: Siskel & Ebert & the Movies
Years ago, before they had a show together, I watched as Gene Siskel of the Tribune ran into Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times outside a Chicago press bar. Their rivalry sizzled. We reporters all said that Siskel was jealous of Ebert's Pulitzer and that Ebert envied Siskel's lucrative moonlighting on a local television station. These men fought every day—to get their names on marquees, to get interviews with big names, to get readers. They were critics at war. Which was precisely what made it genius to put them before a camera to talk about movies. They definitely argue. They're certainly opinionated. They know movies and use that knowledge to win fights—and not just to show off. They insult each other. In short, they're entertaining. And they're informative. I may often disagree with both (the more obscure the foreign film and the more they adore it, the more I know I'll probably sleep through it), but I leave their show knowing what movies I want to see. That's a critic's job and they do it well.