Yesterday film criticism lost one of its most prolific voices with the passing of Roger Ebert at the age of 70. Ebert had been battling cancer for many years and had required several operations to keep his illness at bay. He had lost the ability to speak, eat, and drink without assistance after having his thyroid and salivary glands, as well as a portion of his chin, removed. Throughout his health challenges he continued to review movies for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he had worked for over 40 years.
Ebert was one of America’s most beloved and trusted film critics. In 1975 he became the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism. His columns were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and abroad, and he wrote more than 15 books, many by skillfully recycling his columns. In 2005 he became the first film critic to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But he is perhaps best known for devising the “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system with Gene Siskel on the popular television program “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies” .
Ebert’s credo in judging a film’s value was a simple one: “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you.” His favorite movie of all time? Citizen Kane.
If you are interested in exploring Roger Ebert’s life and writing, the Library has three of his books in our collection. We have both volumes of The Great Movies which collects his reviews of essential cinema. The Library also has a copy of his autobiography Life Itself: A Memoir.