Roger Ebert 1942-2013
The first movie I can recall seeing at a theater was Pinocchio. From that first time I became enamored with movies; following my brothers, parents and grandparents in our love for cinema. I was fortunate to have sat in some of the old regal movie theaters with their intricately carved terra cotta walls and bright marquees. There was one theater that stood out from all the rest for me. It had a lobby with marble columns that soared up towards a high domed ceiling. Between the candy counter and the aisle entrances were black wrought iron gates trimmed in gold. Seats were covered in a maroon colored velour fabric. They probably looked deeper in color due to the orange glow of lights coming out of the cauldrons and pots that were part of the carved reliefs along the walls. I loved going to see a film in this movie palace. In fact, I thought I could easily get hired as an usher there because of my strong affection for movies; not understanding I was underaged by a few years. As times changed so did movie houses; going from the ornateness I just described to square, flat walled boxes that were void of any personality. I will say the plus for me was when stadium seating was introduced; eliminating my anxiety over the possibility the seat in front me getting occupied by a tall person.
I see this bridge between old and new being similar to Roger coming on the scene. There were movie critics before him, but he took movie reviews in a new direction. Roger made them personal, adding a quick turn of words that could be sarcastic as well as funny. What I liked most about his reviews were the way they made me feel as if he was talking directly to me. Roger’s reviews were not only the highlight when I read the newspaper, they instilled a comfortableness that I still get to this very day when holding the pages of a newspaper. Because of him, when I decided to write movie reviews; I wanted to make them personal. To show how the movie related to me was something important I wanted to share with the readers. There is nothing like having a movie surprising the viewer and taking them away to a different place. I will sadly miss Roger’s reviews but I can just see him now having spirited discussions with his dear friend Gene Siskel and some of the classic movie stars from yesteryear.