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Siskel and Ebert


I stumbled upon a 1986 clip of Siskel and Ebert on The Tonight Show, where they dump on Three Amigos with Chevy Chase sitting right beside them.


Like a lot of budding movie nerds, I used to watch Siskel & Ebert (although not religiously) and have a lot of nostalgia watching them in this clip—looking and acting how I remember from their heyday.


It’s hard to fathom how much power they had, and influence on the culture. Their thumbs up or down made a huge impact, and they were respected even though they often had contrarian opinions (particularly Siskel). That’s because they had integrity.


You really did trust that they took their jobs seriously, that they knew what they were talking about, and unlike almost all of the reality programming now, they weren’t just staging arguments. When they disagreed, it was a real argument. But they were always professional, and decent. They believed in the critic’s mission and mandate and took it seriously.


The thing about great TV casts is that, even when they’re not the best actors, they have vivid personalities. Siskel and Ebert weren’t actors, but they were definitely personalities. Even today, it’s so easy to remember how they looked and sounded. Yet they weren’t at all staged.


All these years later and there still hasn’t been a movie review show close to what they were—and it’s not like people didn’t try. But my memory of the others is that they were scripted, stilted and lame. Siskel and Ebert just had that magic spontaneity and authenticity.


Dare I say it? Two thumbs up.

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I liked Three Amigos.

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Miss those guys. After Roger's cancer surgery took his voice, he wrote an extraordinary blog that I also miss tremendously.

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