At the Movies, originally called Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, and later At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper is a movie review TV program in which two film critics share their opinions of newly released films. Its original hosts were Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
While Siskel and Ebert were hosts, the show was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards seven times and also for Outstanding Information Series. The show’s cancellation was announced on March 24, 2010, and the last episode was aired during the weekend of August 14–15, 2010.
During its run, the show was well-loved, and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate loss, the show possibly couldn’t have ended. Read on to find out the other reasons why this show was well-loved.
12. Roger Ebert Once Dated Oprah Winfrey
Believe it or not, Roger Ebert and Oprah Winfrey went out on two dates, but the one that made history started when they went to the movies. Afterward, they went to the Hamburger Hamlet for dinner. While having dinner, Ebert urged her into syndicating her show. This suggestion led her to take over the world. Good one for Roger.
Roger Ebert is also a Pulitzer Prize Winning writer. And they don’t hand these out to just anybody. In 1975, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his writing. Gene Siskel, on the other hand, was a Yale graduate with a degree in philosophy. Even though the pair is considered as acclaimed thinkers, they were commendeded for not talking down to their audience and for appearing more like quarreling brothers than university professors.
11. They Didn’t Fight That Often
There is a held belief that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert disagreed most of the time. This is, in fact, not true. They agree most of the time on either a negative or positive review, but since they were best known for their feuds in between, the belief has grown that the two were always at odds with each other. Taken from all of the films that they reviewed in their years together they only disagreed about 30% of the time.
Their differences are what made them so appealing. People find them funny and their reviews, while intelligent are upgraded by an easy chemistry and sense of humor. They were perfectly matched opposing power. While Roger Ebert was the thoughtful, artistic soul, Gene Siskel was the pushy, no-nonsense reporter. Their contrasting personalities, along with their academic knowledge of cinema, helped elevate the show and give humor in their reviews.
10. Siskel and Ebert Had Worked Together Even Before Their Flagship Show
Although the well-loved film review series started its run on September 13, 1986, as Siskel and Ebert and the Movies, it wasn’t the first time Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had worked on a TV program. From 1975 to 1982, the two critics had co-hosted the PBS series Sneak Previews.
Before the show, they came from the biggest rival newspapers in the country. Gene Siskel was the film critic for the elitist Chicago Tribune, while Roger Ebert wrote his reviews for the blue collar Chicago Sun-Times. Both newspapers had an intense rivalry. The stage was set for high tensions when one TV producer suggested pairing both critics up for a show in which they review and debate upcoming movies.
9. They Fought Harder For Each Other Than They Did Against Each Other
Though Ebert acknowledged that he and Siskel often disagreed on movies, when it came to real life, they always had each other’s backs. “In my darkest and moodiest hours, when all my competitiveness and resentment and indignation were at a roiling boil, I never considered [going our separate ways],” Ebert wrote. “I know Gene never did either. We were linked in a bond beyond all disputing. ‘You may be an a**hole,’ Gene would say, ‘but you’re my a**hole.’ If we were fighting—get out of the room. But if we were teamed up against a common target, we were fatal.”
Besides reviewing movies, they also talked about the nature of moviemaking. Though reviews were their main business, Siskel and Ebert worked hard to develop an appreciation for the art of moviemaking itself in their viewers. The pair investigated into issues facing moviemakers of the day, including the colorization of films, the virtues of letterboxing, the art of black-and-white cinematography, and why the MPAA was the same as censorship.